"Street Smarts" vs. "Academic Intelligence"

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“Street Smarts” Vs. “Academic Intelligence”

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People are born without knowledge but they collect it during their lifetime. Whether a person is more skilled in street smarts or academic intelligence depends on the conditions in which he or she has grown up. Academic smarts and street smarts have a lot in common but each aspect has its own peculiarities. Street smart help people survive while academic intelligence results in good grades. These two are definitely necessary but street intelligence is more essential in real life.


Concerning analytically intelligent (or book smart) people, their intelligence is employed to analyze, evaluate, and judge information. Book smart is merely an intelligent and well-educated person who performs well academically. However, such person manages with situations, especially severe or stressful ones, from an intellectual position, utilizing facts, information obtained mainly from books. In other words, it is a traditional school-type of learning when a teacher shares information and students learn. Academically intelligent people know all the theories no matter whether they are valuable or useless in life and they perform well in classes and exams. They believe that value lies in possessing information and reading books. In practice, book smarts are pretty good at repeating particular information, but when they have to answer questions about real-world issues their minds cannot say anything. Personal opinion is appreciated more than simple retelling of impractical facts. All people can be academically intelligent in school, college, university, etc. , but this does not mean that a person with a degree will possess common sense.

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Concerning practical intelligence (or street smart), is learning through experience from real life. A person learns everything from his or her personal experience, and this cannot be taught during lessons. Regarding advantages, being street smart means that a person of this intelligence type can read people, knows when someone wants to take advantage of him or her. Moreover, street smarts know how to interact with different types of people in particular with unsavory characters. They know how to reduce tension and stressful atmosphere in a lousy situation. According to an article in Forbes, such influential personalities as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates quit college and became very prosperous in their careers. Their success came from a personal ambition rather than from knowledge. They will never rely on books to teach them how problems are handled and how things work. They are strongly prejudiced and have more practical knowledge of how to act in a given situation. They are independent and do not always look for assistance from others. Frequently they have their own approach. They are able to go to a remote environment without Google tools and arrive to the destination place in time, they can tell a person’s character only by handshaking and keep their facial expression motionless when going past beggars.


Street smarts are essential in real life situations while academic intelligence is important at least for general development.

Works cited

  1. Friedman, B. (2017). Why Street Smarts Are More Important Than Book Smarts. Forbes. Retrieved from
  2. Grossman, M. R. (2018). Street Smart vs. Book Smart. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  3. Levy, L. (2020). Street smarts vs. book smarts: Which is more important? The Washington Post. Retrieved from
  4. Liu, Y., & Liu, J. (2019). Study on the Correlation Between Academic Intelligence and Social Intelligence of College Students. Journal of Higher Education Research, 40(3), 48-55. doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1003-0565.2019.03.006
  5. Murray, K. (2018). Street Smarts Vs Book Smarts: Which Is More Important? IvyWise. Retrieved from
  6. Sternberg, R. J. (2018). Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Sternberg, R. J., & Zhang, L. F. (2014). The Nature of Academic and Practical Intelligence: A Response to Howard Gardner. Educational Researcher, 43(1), 22-26. doi: 10.3102/0013189x14522420
  8. Vockell, E. L. (2013). Educational Psychology: A Practical Approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  9. Webb, C. E. (2018). The Relationship between Street Smarts and Academic Achievement in a Sample of High School Students. Journal of Education and Learning, 7(1), 1-8. doi: 10.5539/jel.v7n1p1

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