Washington, Oct 16 : A new study from University of Illinois has found that high school students with good social skills are likely to earn more than their counterparts with similar test scores but fewer social skills.
The researchers found that social skills as conscientiousness, cooperativeness, and motivation were as important as test scores for success in the workplace.
"It's important to note that good schools do more than teach reading, writing, and math," said Christy Lleras, a University of Illinois assistant professor of human and community development.
"They socialize students and provide the kinds of learning opportunities that help them to become good citizens and to be successful in the labour market.
"Unless we address the differences in school climates and curriculum that foster good work habits and other social skills, we're doing a huge disservice to low-income kids who may be entering the labour market right after high school, especially in our increasingly service-oriented economy," she added.
During the study, the team analysed data of 11,000 tenth graders for 10 years, who were a part of National Educational Longitudinal Study.
They tracked their scores on standard achievement tests, teacher appraisals of such qualities as the students' work habits, their ability to relate well to peers, and their participation in extracurricular activities, a proxy for the ability to interact well with both students and adults.
The teachers' assessments were then compared with the students' self-reported educational attainments and earnings 10 years after high-school graduation.
They found that high-school social skills predict better earnings than test scores.
"You could argue that the reason these behaviours matter is that kids who display them are more likely to obtain a college degree and in turn have higher earnings. Certainly that is part of it, but even after if controlled for educational attainment, there were still significant effects," she said.
Participation in sports and school organizations also had strong effects on a student's future educational and occupational success.
"For African American and Hispanic students only, participation in fine arts led to significantly better earnings compared to whites. This suggests that different activities teach kids different kinds of skills and learned behaviours," she said.
"My findings show that the most successful students are those who have not only high achievement test scores but also the kinds of social skills and behaviours that are highly rewarded by employers in the workplace," she added.