Views of a Graduating Student

I was asked to write an article by the same name for my college magazine. My views as I leave college in a couple of months.

It was a difficult task writing that article. To begin with I didn’t really know what my view as graduating student should be. Should it be nostalgic about the last 3 years? Or should it be blatant and truthful? Was I supposed to write how much I will miss college and my life here? Or was I supposed to say that thank you for the education, but, seriously, I can’t wait to get out of college? What was I supposed to say? That what would be diplomatically correct but that would also make sure I was not a “sell-out”?

With all these questions in mind, I did manage to write, though after alot of anxiety attacks because the feeling of leaving this place hadn’t settled in then and still, to an extent, hasn’t.

So I am putting up the article, in original words, as submitted to the editorial team, for further criticism.

I have had a lot of “views” about my past, my present and my future as a college student. In the last three years, I have messed up and I have seen other people mess up. I have seen ordinary people achieve extraordinary feats. I have wished for things to change but never worked hard enough to be part of the change. I have criticized the college, but never tried to help change the very things. I have given up hope. I have lost friends. I have failed. But through all of this, I have learnt lessons. And because I don’t really know what my ‘View as a Graduating Student’ should be, I am going to share the very things that Pune and college have taught me. So, if you don’t mind reading and are someone who likes listening to what other people have to say, read on…

Go stick your finger into a power socket and switch it on. What is your first reaction? Ouch! That pretty much sums up what college is. It is quick and it’s a shock. To deal with college you have to be firmly grounded in your beliefs and you have to be smart. If you don’t really believe in anything, you will mess up. And if you’re not smart, you may just end up going through it again.

You’re sure to have made a lot of mistakes in the past years of college. Learn from them. Don’t go sticking every finger into the power socket. And if you also happen to be smart, learn from your neighbour’s burning hair.

Make your beliefs your virtues. Live by them; because it is very easy to become a man without principles who drifts along. You have to believe in something – gut, karma, destiny, anything. Don’t become the pebble that follows the course of the river. Become the boulder that changes its course. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to slip, to do wrong. Be a brave man and not give in. But also, don’t let your beliefs be rigid, change them with time as you go along. Adapt. I have seen a lot of people slip the past few years and become people they never intended becoming. Probably the biggest challenge that lies ahead of you is not getting lost amongst the crowd. Be an individual with an identity and a belief that is yours and yours alone.

Don’t put too much importance on your results. They are more of secondary deciding factors than the primary. The primary factor will always be you! Your college exams, CAT and all the other entrance exams that are calling out to you, will ever only prove the fact that you have brains and that you can use them. They were never a measure of success. So don’t lean on them heavily. Your success will depend on the person you are. Where you come from, what you studied, who your friends were won’t dictate who you become. What you are, surely will.

One of the most interesting back stories of the modern computing and IT industry is how many of its pioneers were college dropouts. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, for example, both left Harvard in mid-term and one of Gates’s proudest boasts is that he was responsible for persuading Steve Ballmer (now Microsoft’s CEO) to drop out of Stanford. The list continues with Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle and Michael Dell, founder of the computer firm that bears his name. And although Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, did graduate, they both dropped out of their PhD programmes. This rather runs against the conventional narrative – that an expensive college education and a good degree are essential prerequisites for success.

“The IQ test was invented to predict academic performance, nothing else. If we wanted something that would predict life success, we’d have to invent another test completely.”

– Robert Zajonc

Have ambitions in life. Have goals. They will lead you. Aspire to become something. I am not asking you to be all figured out in life. But for now know what you want. Atleast you’ll be doing something that you believe in and not following blindly in the footsteps of others. Don’t ever allow yourself to be pushed into doing something.

Don’t give up hope too easy. Life always comes around with better things. The lows in life will teach you to enjoy the happy moments. They’ll teach you to live life by the minute. And also, don’t take life very seriously. Find the humor in it. Smile a lot, even when things are down and out.

“Life goes by so fast, that if you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it.”

– From the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Remember your friends and stay in touch. They are the very people you’ll be meeting in board rooms from now on. Keep them close. You never know when you may need them for blood transfusions or insider information.

In the end as the last 3 years conclude, old inhibitions have eroded, aspirations have changed, new habits have been formed, people have grown up and lessons have been learnt. For the future, remember:

Exercise, be healthy, it will go a long way. Drink, but don’t drink too much. And never drink and drive. Learn from the number of accidents you and your friends have had the last couple of years. Give up smoking. It was never good to begin with. Control your anger. Getting worked up never helped anyone. Manage your stress. Stick to deadlines. Start work early and not at the last minute. Become responsible. Enjoy life and live the moment. Life is too short to be spent on reading articles. Go write your own.

Remember this doesn’t end here. It is only the beginning, ‘for you and I shall meet again’, most probably in board room battles (!). Let’s move on with our lives. We have to write whole new chapters. Class of 2012, let’s graduate!!!

Much Love:

Class of 2009