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Is it more beneficial, academically, to pursue ideals or be pragmatic?

When I ask myself this question, I encounter some internal conflicts:


I feel good
Others feel good
The world becomes a better place

Implementation can be tricky
Success not guaranteed


Work gets done
Good grades
Success almost 100% guaranteed

I feel like a lemming
The world does not benefit much

Grades k-8:
I was pragmatic. What do I need to do to "be good"?

Grades 9-12:
I was still somewhat pragmatic; however, I didn't feel like the world benefited when I aced a class.

University Freshman-Sophomore:
I felt like I could make the world a better place. I publish a little. My grades aren't so hot anymore, "but who cares?"

People care about grades. Grad schools care about grades. Unfortunately, the best I can do is around a 3.7 if I'm perfect and 4.0 every class from now on. More realistically I could get a 3.6 if I just strike a good balance between idealism and pragmatism.

I currently keep my world-benefiting ideas in a text file on my desktop labelled "ideas.txt." Some of those ideas are very dangerous if they get into the wrong hands. Some of those ideas require me to go find some very interesting people to make them a reality. Others are really small, on the order of post-it notes. I guess this little text file is my creative outlet.