November 23, 2009

What College is about

Today a Year-1 student approached me asking about minoring in Statistics. He complained that there are too many prerequisite courses and he was not so sure whether he could accomplish it. And here is what I replied:

...There are prerequisites; however, you may consider waiving them by consulting the math department head... [This practice] is common for students pursuing advanced levels of achievement. Do never be impeded by mere stated prerequisites. You will find the experience of taking advanced courses especially rewarding as you will learn a lot along the way and challenge your intellectual limit.

While I was reading Cal Newport's How to Win at College recently, I've been thinking, for what we came here to college? A higher than everyone else's GPA? A presidency of a student club? Being awed by peers and favored by teachers? The last two paragraphs of the above stated book really touched me:

I conclude this book with these words because I believe that pursuing your ambitions for the right reasons is more important than any specific strategy for succeeding at college. If you want to succeed because you like the attention, then this book can't help you. If you want succeed to prove yourself to others, then this book can't help you. If you want to succeed because you enjoy adulation and praise, then this book can't help you. You will never really win, because the fear of failure will always be lurking around the next corner.

If, however, you want to succeed because you love the excitement of pushing your potential and exploring your world and new experiences, if you want to succeed because life is short and why not fill it with as much activity as possible, then you will win. If you approach life with an attitude of never having regrets and always having a hopeful smile on your face, you can find a measure of success in all your endeavors. Don't have no regrets, but have plenty of fun along the way. In the end, that is what it is to really win.

So prove yourself only to yourself. Strive to reach your limit. There is no defined success for everyone. Success is defined for you and for you only by achieving the mightiest things in the world as you can.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post for anyone in college. I feel that many people would be more successful if they followed Cal Newport's advice. Some stress is beneficial, but the reasons behind their work should be these, a love of learning and a full life. Instead of constantly straining and comparing themselves to their peers, they could enjoy what they were doing. There would be less despondency, depression and frustration in the college community.
    Thanks for the encouraging reminder!