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Job Skills Importance of Intelligence in science

  1. Sep 19, 2016 #1
    I’ve constantly been informed that I am smart, if not brilliant by everyone around me. Unfortuantely for me, I’ve always believed that, and have never worked hard as a result, managing to get good grades without any work, which has further influenced my perception of myself. Recently, however, I have sustained a concussion, and realized that I am not as intelligent as I thought I was. I am completely infatuated eith the mechanisms of the brain, and have always wished to be a neuroscientist, but now am experiencing serious doubts. In short, what is the required intelligence for success in science, especially neuroscience? If I learn to work hard, would that absolve me of failure in science as a result of my sudden self-doubts about my intelligence?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2016 #2
    I'm not saying people with mental retardation can be successful in science, so intelligence is definitely a necessary factor. But in my opinion it's a very small factor. Hard work is a much more important factor. You can be the most intelligent person around, if you don't do the work you'll get nowhere. Hard work is much much more important than just raw intelligence.

    Sure, with intelligence you can get through courses very easily. True. But that only last until a certain point. Every single person will hit a wall sooner or later where raw intelligence doesn't save them. The people who did not learn hard work usually are the first to drop out.
  4. Sep 19, 2016 #3
    I have two issues now:
    1. How am I supposed to know if I am intelligent enough?
    2. How do I learn to work hard? It's a skill that I have never required before, but now, caught in the throes of PCS, I must face the harsh truth.
  5. Sep 19, 2016 #4


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    1. There is no litmus test, I'm afraid. You have to jump into the water and either sink or swim. The thing is though, most people can figure this out with a few classes. If you're struggling to keep up in your first year classes while putting forth your best effort, that might be a sign that you're not on the right path. But remember that everyone struggles a little bit. If graduate school is a realistic option for you, you don't need to be getting perfect scores in all of your classes, but you should be able to get high scores (As) in at least a few of them, and do moderately well (at least Bs) in the rest.

      Something else to pay attention to is your own interests. If you continue to be interested in the material despite struggling with it, that's a good sign. If you find you have to force yourself to pay attention and you're constantly taking every opportunity you can to think about other things, that's a bad sign.
    2. This is something you have to figure out for yourself. And by "hard" it's not necessarily something that has to be a struggle. You learn how to organize yourself and your schedule. Learn how to study efficiently. Take time to work through problem sets - not just the assigned ones, but the extra ones. Learn good test-taking strategies. On top of that there's the drive to get up early in the morning and crack the books when it would feel nicer to sleep in. You can't really learn that last part, I don't think. If you're on the right path, it's there more often than it's not.
  6. Sep 19, 2016 #5


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    Most important for you is healing from your concussion. Your cognitive qualities can be reassessed later.
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