Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I was having trouble coming up with a topic for this one. Not that I don’t have tons of ‘what I wish I knew before’ scenarios, I do. But I’m not done learning from most of them just yet. I don’t have a pretty and neatly wrapped box set of advice with a bow on top that I could pass on to you at this time.
Me and Boonsri in CO
I asked my good college bud Boonsri Dickinson
(check out her latest post on SmartPlanet
) what she thought. She said she wished she knew that grades didn’t matter. I very much agree on this one. So that’s the wisdom I am imparting upon you today.
I can only speak from my own experience when I say this. Grades are not everything. They’re just not. It seems that the only time they come into play is if you’re after a very official type government job. And even then, there are ways around the GPA barrier.
Everyone I know from my work life, the people I respect the most there, the people I know that went on to start their own successful businesses, the ones who are more creative and intuitive than the rest, none of them had particularly stellar GPA’s. Now, this may just pertain to the people I happened to come across, and this may just be an Engineering thing, I dunno, you be the judge.
Employers seek way more than just GPA. In fact, at least in my field, it seems that hands on experience is far more valuable. Partaking in projects, working in teams in general, even if not in the field they are after.
Sleep when you want to
I really do wish I didn’t spend so much time stressing out and worrying about midterms, and finals, and homework assignments, and all those other pesky huge difficult tests every week or two. I remember not sleeping, studying all hours, passing up on live concerts, weekends at the beach, and just plain old hang out time, all because I ‘just had too much to do’. But that’s bullshit. I had far more free time back then. And I had far more fun stuff to spend that free time on available to me, than I do now.
Take a break!
I’m fairly positive that had I spent less time stressin’ I would have actually done a lot better in some classes, and definitely would have retained more long term understanding of the subject matter.
Let your mind go..
Can you imagine how much deeper of an understanding you could have if you really grasped what it all meant? If you took the time to sit there, eyes glazed over, and bask in the wonders you are learning about, allowing your mind to wander and take you to the far realms of physical understanding.. rather than franticly writing down every word, actively expelling energy while attempting to not miss any detail, all the while never really getting the main point.
I’ve had my share of ‘Eureka!’ moments over the years. The first time I understood what it meant to have a triple integral over 3 dimensions between functions representing planes in space, when out of the blue polar coordinates became intuitive, when kinematics and reverse kinematics for a 6 degree of freedom robotic arm suddenly made perfect sense! Those were amazing moment.
Polar Coordinates six degree of freedom robotic arm
None of which I would have experienced, had I been worrying about details, and final grades. No. In those rare moments, I was able to let my mind go, and to see what was really going on physically without the bullshit of exam scores. I wish I realized I should do that more back then, and I wish I knew how at the time.
Take it easy
What’s my point in all this? Well, if I had it to do over, I would go to class to listen and understand, not to do well on tests.
My advice to you, if you’re still in school, go to class to listen, open your mind, drop the pen and the stress. It’s not helping anyone.