3 Things They Don’t Teach You in College

Saturday, June 30th, 2007
  1. Corporate America doesn’t care how smart you are. A wise man once told me your first degree might get you in the door, but after that it’s all about what you do in the workplace. And the best thing you can do is network with the right people, maintain upward momentum, and if at all possible, avoid doing any real work. Unfortunately, there’s little glory or reward for the technical experts who really make things work and bring in the dollars that the CEOs brag about on their new yachts.

  2. You should’ve found your soul mate already. The dating scene changes dramatically after college; no longer are you surrounded by people your age and intelligence. People are tougher to find, much less idealistic, and many are already married or in long term relationships.

  3. You never stop learning. The technical world moves so fast that almost anything practical you learned is outdated before the ink is dry on your diploma. Many work in fields only loosely-coupled to their studies, and being successful often means learning a good bit about related disciplines. One caveat is to avoid letting yourself become spread too thin; another piece of good advice I’ve heard is to be knowledgeable about all areas and an expert in one.

Harvard Ends Early Admissions

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Kudos to Harvard for announcing the end of early admissions. With skyrocketing tuition and applications making college applications into a real pressure-cooker for high school students, it’s about time someone took some of the stress out of it. While elite colleges may love filling 20-50% of their classes with more affluent students set on attending their schools, it rushes others to complete SATs and applications while giving up choice and flexibility to weigh financial aid offers.

Harvard and the other Ivies really have the impetus to start such a change; they’ll always have the reputation to draw plenty of applicants. Hopefully the idea will trickle down to more schools and give high school students back a bit of their time and sanity.

Swimming for a Diploma

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Both Fark and Digg picked up this Boston Globe article on college swim tests and the handful of MIT graduates who still have to pass it in order to graduate. As a Cornell alumni, I have to weigh in that we, too, had a swim test. You passed it your first week as a freshman or you got enrolled in a swim class to fulfill the physical education requirement.

It’s a shame that only 14% of colleges still have such a requirement and the number is dropping. The Earth’s surface is over 70% water, and if you believe in global warming, that number is only going to increase.

Lenape Alumni Board

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Brian tipped me off to the Lenape High School Alumni site, where you can share a bio and contact information with old classmates and see what everyone else has been doing. It’s fascinating to see how far and wide people have traveled and who’s lives have followed or dramatically changed paths.

Sheepskins

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

Hanging behind me are two pieces of paper that should make me very proud: my undergraduate degree from Cornell and a master’s from Penn State. The first I worked hard for and really consider an accomplishment; the second prompts mixed feelings.

Being a book-smart kind of guy, an advanced degree was always in the back of my mind, even as I took a job after Cornell. It took a while for that job to pick up steam, though, so I looked to solve my boredom by doing a master’s on the company’s dime.

Financially it was a great deal, career-wise it was a moderate booster, but I just wasn’t that passionate about the material. The electives were great - robotics, neural networks, genetic algorithms - but the bulk of the material was dull but necessary systems engineering and math. In hindsight, it was worth doing, though I would’ve preferred all those hours to be infused with more of a spark.