Originally I wanted to write about the 3 most important things in college. Now that the writer’s hat is on, I can’t think of the third one. And think about it a bit deeper, I picked 3 because that’s what most people try to come up with. Why not 2? Maybe the third one will pop up one day, naturally.
College has been a lot of things to me at different times. When I started off, college was schooling. The continuity of high school. It was just another school, just bigger and more expensive. At that time, like many others I went to school because that is what my parents wanted me to do. I was doing it for them. I studied to please my family. Maybe that’s why it felt like another school. Asian kids grow up mostly to satisfy their parents. I went because I had to!
Then when I met Alex and joined BASA, college was all about extracurricular activities. I showed up to every BASA meeting, to pretty much every single event BASA held. That was when I took responsibility of my education for myself. I took it off my parents’ hands. College was a ‘business’ ground for me then. For various reasons, I stopped caring so much about grades, even though I still kept it up. One big reason was because I believed that I wouldn’t learn much from classrooms. Learning takes place after hours, when we had brainstorming sessions about business ideas with other business students of BASA, meetings, retreats, and launching initiatives. I learned a tone from the Textbook Service. It was the first year and we weren’t getting enough help. I remembered going around parking lots putting flyers on windshields for our service. And late nights with Chelsea Waterton and Alex inputting the books into the system. Learning was happening then, for me. Also during this time I read Alex’s blog post about “balance is bullshit”. I thought it was the bang!
That leads to now. Alex’s gone off campus for a long time. I have long forgotten the feeling of studying for someone else. I have been doing it for myself the past 3 and half years. I don’t think my previous focus or belief was wrong. Here are 2 things I currently believe are most important for a college student:
1. Friendships. College is the best time for creating and looking for lasting friendships. Before college, friendship merely meant whoever I felt fun hanging out with. After college, though not impossible, it’s a lot harder. You have to question: “should it just be work colleague or can it be friendship? Am I being professional? Would this affect my work?? etc. College is when we ask some of the most important questions of life, such as who we are and why we are here. That is when genuine things can happen, especially friendship. I stop caring about trying to fit in with my friends (like high school). It’s now about this is who I am and these are friends that fit with who I am…
2. Personal Development. A lot of efforts are placed on developing professional qualities for college students. And for good reasons, especially in Business. College is mostly about employability. The danger comes in when I start to do everything (and the emphasis is on EVERYTHING) to advance my professional development. At one point, I felt like I was doing a lot of things for someone else. And it’s a deja vu all over again. Instead of my parents, I was trying to please potential employers. That is not to say I try to go against it. The emphasis is EVERYTHING. Like going golfing “because 80% of business deals are done over a game of golf” or scramble to be the President of XYZ because that’s what potential employers look for. There is nothing inherently wrong with golfing or being the President of XYZ. It’s the motive that’s wrong. And I think we as society are placing less emphasis on personal development, on building characters. College is perfect for this because asking honestly who we are and why we do what we do require truly solid character.
2.5. Be Audacious. Okay maybe this is point 2 and a half. Kinda tied in with point 2. “What do we have to lose?” No mortgage, no status, no wife/husband to lose. We can be safe later on, when we have a house to pay off, 2 cars to get loaned for, and 3 kids to send to school. Now, the worst that can happen is that we put in a few more hours at the menial job to pay off the phone bill! Be audacious now when we can.