We are amalgams of innumerable thoughts, experiences, and sensitivities

March 17th, 2014, 8pm

To my students, who by looking to me for answers, push me to question my own knowledge.

As you get older, you’ll start to notice life is full of patterns. You see more smiles on Fridays than on Mondays, people prefer down-to-earth writing over pretentious, jargon-littered writing, and words of encouragement are better-received than criticism. The thing about patterns is, they’re consistent.

Here’s another one that has long been true: those with the best ideas and most skills get the best jobs. Some examples: there’s the highly educated (Neil deGrasse Tyson), educated (Steven Spielberg), the college dropout (Steve Jobs), and the not-even-a-diploma-but-rich-anyway (David Karp). See another pattern? They come from all kinds of backgrounds.

You probably know what I’m getting at. It’s admission decisions week, and a whole lot of you are stressed out. Some of you will get into your top choices, most of you won’t. In happiness or sadness, if you need to cry, or talk to someone, please do it. But the truly great is neither discouraged by failure, nor complacent by triumph. To get up after a fall, you need resilience. To get even better after success, you need motivation. Countless sources — from scientists, to decades of research, to articles from The Harvard Crimson — have talked about these two qualities as indicators of personal and professional success. You won’t, however, find them saying that the name of your college will get you far in life.

(And to those who are scoffing “psh…going to the better colleges will get me better opportunities,” well, sure, but don’t take that guy from Cal State Fullerton lightly at the job interview. He might have a chip on his shoulder, loves the opportunity to compete with big shots, and is hungry to show his talents. Employers sure love a person with heart!)

I’m not saying college isn’t important. Of course, it is. But if you assign it too much weight in the measure of your self-worth, then you’re doing yourself a great injustice. We are amalgams of innumerable thoughts, experiences, and sensitivities, all of which will be more valuable for your future spouse/friend/employer to know about than the name of your college.

Whether you attend a JC or an Ivy next year, I encourage you to strive for what really matters in life. I wish for you to be good human beings, and to solve problems, and to help one another. Open your mind, your eyes, and your ears. You’ll realize whom are the people you most admire, and notice that your reasons won’t include what college they went to.

Amal, Adrian and Christine said thanks.

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Donovan Bui

Casual musings on travel and living. See my photos at http://donovanbui.com

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