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Looking for a specific word for 'the only option?' Phrase in my head is:

Graduating from college shouldn't be the ________ in telling whether a person will be successful.

For some reason, I have zero-sum/end-sum in my head but I am not convinced that is the right word — but perhaps sounds like it.

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  • 4
    Shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all in determining ...
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 6:49
  • ... shouldn’t be the essential factor in determining ... Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 10:32
  • the only criterion.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 17:03
  • Are you talking about options that lead to success or options for telling whether someone will be successful? Your sentence is confusing. Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 21:36
  • litmus test....
    – Drew
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 0:06

2 Answers 2

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Decisive / deciding / determining factor, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary:

the most important reason

Their example sentence:

Cost was the decisive/deciding/determining factor in their decision.

Attribution: "Decisive/deciding/determining Factor." Merriam-Webster. Accessed June 13, 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decisive/deciding/determining factor.

0

yardstick. dictionary.com

any standard of measurement or judgment: "Test scores are not the only yardstick of academic achievement."

As in:

Graduating from college shouldn't be the only yardstick telling whether a person will be successful.

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