In other words, I don't think that it is a case of
A. The most socially adept people immediately building a social network, resulting in better exchange of information and therefore better grades,
B. The smartest and best students happening to naturally also be the most sociable,
C. The smartest and best students forming a clique and deliberately excluding the poorer students.
I think it's largely that people who are really into a subject and may not have the best social skills tend to find it easy to bond over studying, and so quickly form tight-knit nerd clusters which mostly talk about nerd shit, which reinforces the curriculum. Meanwhile, the less studious among the class kind of avoid the nerds, and engage in more social activity outside of academia, until they realize they're struggling with the class and try to join study groups or get tutoring from the nerds, who naturally are kind of put off by the sudden attempt to engage and recognize that they're not being approached due to shared interests, but primarily being used for their knowledge.
Yeah, and I can say from experience that nerds can be fucking vicious about stuff like that, especially when they're younger. It's like "Hey, BMOC, you're in my
house now, and I've hated bastards like you since I was in short pants."
Especially when it's a transparent case of people palling up because they are out of their depth.
When I was a kid, I was in the gear-head crowd. You know, motorcycle jackets and engineer boots. Because I am a gamer, I had friends in the nerd crowd. I eventually got the two crowds to mix, more or less by accident. The nerds got drunk and the gear-heads got exposed to something more intellectual than beer and back seat sex, and both groups were better for it. The gear-heads got slowly drawn into the rich club, and did better. The nerds got to unwind and have some fun around people who had decided to accept them on equal terms for reasons that were never really all that clear.
But that sort of happened naturally. If the gear-heads had tried to cozy up because senior finals were 4 weeks away, the nerds would have found ways to avoid the whole thing.