If you behaved like this in high school, there is a good chance you have a high salary

For those of us that had less than picture perfect high school experiences, we are comforted by the fact that when we grow up we take our own future into our hands. Your popularity level, what table you sat at, and whether you related more to the crowd on Freaks and Geeks over Dawson’s Creek wasn’t supposed to impact your future. Well, guess what? That is apparently wrong.

According to a new study published this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology your behavior in high school impacts your career choice and your income level. Here’s hoping you were a well-rounded brainy jock with a great sense of humor who was universally liked.

Good person = good future = good income

Basically, if you were a responsible, good student, with an interest in academics, your future turned out just fine no matter your IQ or your parents’ socioeconomic status. These good students, who also didn’t tend to have trouble with reading and writing, had higher associations with getting bachelors and masters degrees and having a more prestigious job both at the 11- and 50-year mark. After 50 years, these students also were all associated with higher income.

What is important to note here is that habits form in your youth can impact you much later in life. “This study highlights the possibility that certain behaviors at crucial periods could have long-term consequences for a person’s life,” lead author Marion Spengler, PhD, of the University of Tübingen said.

Research involved 80,000 students over 50 years

Educational researchers, political scientists, and economists are increasingly interested in the traits and skills that parents, teachers, and schools should foster in children to enhance chances of success later in life,” Spengler said. “Our research found that specific behaviors in high school have long-lasting effects for one’s later life.”

Spengler and her team studied data collected by the American Institutes for Research from 346,660 U.S. high school students in 1960, and then at follow-up data from 81,912 of those students 11 years later. In 2010, 50 years after they launched the study, they looked at the profiles of 1,952 students.

When the students were matriculating, they looked at their behaviors and attitudes as well as personality traits, cognitive abilities, parental socioeconomic status, and demographic factors. As adults the researchers focused on educational attainment, income, and occupational prestige.