10 Ways to Tell You Are More “Book Smart” Than “Common Sense Smart”

I’ll start this article with a confession (I’ve heard that that’s better than starting a confession with an article): I am a person who is most definitely more “book smart” than “common sense smart.” In my personal opinion, and for the purpose of this article, an individual who is “book smart” is intellectual and analytical: someone who likely excelled in school. An individual who is “common sense smart,” on the other hand, has perhaps learned more from experience than from an education, can offer up useful and practical information, and is often better at hands on work than someone who feels more at home analyzing Freud. As I said, I definitely feel that I am more of a book smart individual than a common sense smart kind of person. To give an example: I started college when I was 16 but struggled with the pretzel-making machine at an amusement park summer job. I describe myself as an “articulate ditz,” both because I think it sounds catchy and because it’s true. There are of course plenty of people who are a mixture of both types of smart, and many would argue that to be successful in this world you have to be a mixture of both. Then there are people like Robert Ingersoll who have offered up a strong opinion on the topic:

“It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”~ Robert G. Ingersoll

Well guess what, Robert? You may or may not be right, but at the end of the day, we are who we are (even ask Ke$ha), and nerds are essential to society. So, my fellow “book smart” people, bear in mind that haters gonna hate (and graters gonna grate….cheese all over the casserole you have no idea how to cook). Here are 10 ways to tell you are more “book smart” than “common sense smart”:


10. Making a cup of coffee sounds like a potentially difficult task (hey, there’s a reason they invented the Keurig). Making honor roll, on the other hand, comes pretty easily. In short, “common sense” tasks often pose a greater challenge than those you’d encounter in an intellectual or academic setting.


9. You’re not sure how to change a flat tire, but you can change a grammatically incorrect sentence into beautiful writing. At least if you get a flat tire on the highway you can offer your editing skills in exchange for someone’s help?


8.You feel that you’d have a better shot at getting into law school than getting into culinary school. Your strength lies in acing exams, analyzing dense reading, and forming persuasive arguments as opposed to doing more hands on type tasks. This can be of benefit to you when it comes time to form a persuasive argument as to why you should not be responsible for completing a “common sense” task.


7. You were never “too cool for school” (because you rocked at it), but you might have been cool enough to put off filing your taxes (no, not because you’re a rebel, because filing your taxes sounds complicated).


6.You’re better at memorizing facts than remembering how to format something a specific way. You can write a great paper, but spicing it up with excellent formatting or presentation is a tad more difficult. Writing well = more intellectual. Formatting = more hands on.


5. Navigating your way to a venue where you’re giving a speech causes you more anxiety than actually giving the speech. Giving a smart sounding speech? Easy. Finding your way to a location? Not as easy. A “common sense” task of the sort can be challenging for the “book smart” type. Now which way to the nerd convention?


4. You’d rather attempt to fix the error in an algebra equation than attempt to fix the kitchen sink. We’re good at nerdy stuff, but when it comes to being handy around the house (or anywhere, really), you should probably count on someone else to be of assistance.


3. You’d rather give a stranger your opinion on an important topic than give him or her a map you drew attempting to explain the subway system. Understanding something that what arguably takes common sense to understand? Can be challenging. Explaining said information? Even more challenging.


2. You feel like you’d be more efficient at proofreading your boss’ article than doing administrative tasks for him or her. This relates to the whole formatting thing (see #5). As ridiculous as it might sound, crafting a well-written article sounds easier than competently completing various administrative tasks.


1. People go to you for book recommendations, but not so much for advice regarding everyday tasks. It’s cool, imagine how annoying it would be if the phone were constantly ringing because people wanted some tips on unclogging the shower drain. It’s reminders like those that should rid us of envy of the common sense savvy. Now go be a nerd.


Cover Photo by juhansonin

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