Are Nerds More Successful Than Jocks? New Study From Shows How High School Status Correlates to Careers

Does your status in high school impact where you'll eventually be in the workforce? As high school graduations approach, asked over 6,000 full-time workers age 30 and older to categorize their high school persona, and then compared those personas in terms of job level, salary, industry and job satisfaction. Categories included personas such as student government, athlete, geek, honor society, cheerleader, drama club, teacher's pet and class clown.

"Thirty-nine percent of workers age 30 and older said their high school experience had an influence on the job they hold today," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at "While there are a variety of factors that determine one's career path, high school involves learning experiences inside and outside the classroom that can shape interests and personal networks at an early age. It's essentially a stepping stone into a world of opportunity."

Job Level

Comparing job levels, the study suggests that cheerleaders were more likely to hold a vice president role. Those who were in student government and teacher's pets had the greatest number of workers serving in director/manager/team lead positions today (24 percent). Teacher's pets also had the greatest number of workers holding administrative/clerical positions (41 percent). Former honor society members, athletes and geeks were more drawn toward professional and technical services positions at 59 percent, 55 percent and 52 percent respectively.


Former student government members were more likely to report making a six figure salary with 12 percent stating they are paid an annual salary of $100,000 or more. Ten percent of honor society members said they earn six figures, followed by 7 percent of athletes, geeks and class clowns.

Student government and honor society members and athletes ranked highest among those who earn an annual salary of $50,000 or more at 49 percent, 47 percent and 45 percent respectively.

Teacher's pets were more likely to report earning less than $35,000 per year at 37 percent.


When examining industry groups, a greater number of cheerleaders reported going into travel and insurance than other personas while a greater number of those in student government went into education. The results also suggest that drama club and honor society members had more workers drawn to healthcare positions. Drama club was also ranked as one of the highest among personas in public administration/government. More geeks reported holding positions in engineering and retail than other personas while teacher's pets were ranked as one of the highest in construction and banking and finance. Class clowns were among the more likely of all personas to pursue a career in manufacturing and communications while more athletes were drawn to transportation.

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction levels are highest among teacher's pets and cheerleaders. Eighty-one percent of teacher's pets and 76 percent of cheerleaders said they are satisfied with their jobs overall. Geeks and class clowns had the greatest number of workers who reported dissatisfaction with their jobs at 21 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Satisfaction with Career Progress

Contentment with career progress is more prevalent among teacher's pets and athletes. Fifty-nine percent of teacher's pets and 57 percent of athletes reported they are generally satisfied with their career progress. Student government members and geeks had the greatest number of workers who reported dissatisfaction with their career progress at 32 percent and 31 percent respectively.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 6,154 U.S. employees (employed full-time; not self-employed between February 11, and March 13, 2008). Percentages for some questions are based on a subset of responses to certain questions. With a pure probability sample of 6,154, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.3 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies. A full methodology is available upon request.

About is the nation's largest online job site with more than 23 million unique visitors and over 1.6 million jobs. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. , Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company and Microsoft Corp. , the company offers a vast online and print network to help job seekers connect with employers. powers the career centers for more than 1,600 partners, including 140 newspapers and leading portals such as America Online and MSN. More than 300,000 employers take advantage of's easy job postings, 26 million-plus resumes, Diversity Channel and more. and its subsidiaries operate in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

   Media Contact:
   Jennifer Grasz

First Call Analyst:
FCMN Contact:


CONTACT: Jennifer Grasz of, +1-773-527-1164,