Of course, the real world doesn't work that way, and few have better explained why this is so than Ta-Nehisi Coates (h/t Yglesias). As Coates explains, the skills you need for surviving poverty are frequently at odds with the skills you need to succeed in the professional world:
It defies logic to think that any group, in a generationaly entrenched position, would not develop codes and mores for how to survive in that position. African-Americans, themselves, from poor to bourgeois, are the harshest critics of the street mentality. Of course, most white people only pay attention when Bill Cosby or Barack Obama are making that criticism. The problem is that rarely do such critiques ask why anyone would embrace such values. Moreover, they tend to assume that there's something uniquely "black" about those values, and their the embrace.
If you are a young person living in an environment where violence is frequent and random, the willingness to meet any hint of violence with yet more violence is a shield. Some people take to this lesson easier than others. As a kid, I hated fighting--not simply the incurring of pain, but the actual dishing it out. (If you follow my style of argument, you can actually see that that's still true.) But once I learned the lesson, once I was acculturated to the notion that often the quickest way to forestall more fighting, is to fight, I was a believer. And maybe it's wrong to say this, but it made my the rest of my time in Baltimore a lot easier, because the willingness to fight isn't just about yourself, it's a signal to your peer group.And yet a willingness to use violence is obviously shunned in the professional world and can easily lead to one losing one's job. So to leave the street and get a real job involves an ability to change languages and demeanor in a very stark way. But it's more than that. To succeed, one must abandon the language, demeanor, and sometimes the friends of one's youth -- an act that is often defined in terms associated either with prostitution or treason. In a real sense, succeeding in one realm almost requires failing in the other.
Please read the whole thing.