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Your academic experience doesn't have to be all about the grade.

This story appears in the December 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Have you ever wondered how academic grades play into entrepreneurial success? We know you can be a successful entrepreneur even if your college report card is abysmal, and we know an A in your class won't guarantee your business success. But that doesn't mean you should dismiss your class performance altogether. "It's important to work hard and do your best, and the grades will follow," says Jay Azriel, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. The skills and knowledge you take away from your classes are far more important than grades, notes Azriel. It's better to get a C and have a firm grasp of a subject like accounting or financing or business writing than to earn an A but walk away from the class without a clue.

Although Michael Schneider, 25, loves entrepreneurship, he didn't do particularly well academically in college--and he was already running a business at the time. He had started Fluidesign, a Los Angeles-based web design, graphic design and technology consulting company, in 1998, while still in high school. As a student at the University of Southern California, Schneider did just enough studying to get by and saved most of his energy for running the business--much to the dismay of his professors. "I really didn't balance it," recalls Schneider. In fact, he had difficulty getting into USC's Marshall School of Business with his poor grades. It was only after appealing to the director of admissions in a personal interview, where he convinced her of his entrepreneurial drive, that he was admitted. Though Schneider struggled with grades until his graduation in 2003, his business is quite successful. Fluidesign is slated to earn $1.8 million in 2006.

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