Monthly Archives: October 2012

Affirmative action is a necessity

I used to really oppose affirmative action. Whenever the topic would come up in conversation, I’d always strongly argue against it. It’s an unfair policy. Why should students be penalized or rewarded for having a certain ethnicity in college admissions? That’s out of our control. Last year, I even took a survey in which I voted that I was against affirmative action.

But after spending a year and a half in college, my stance has changed. I’d like to take that vote back. Berkeley doesn’t have an affirmative action policy, so I see first hand what it’s like to not have one. And what I see is this: the lack of diversity throughout the campus is detrimental to student learning. Continue reading

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Filed under College Admissions, Finding Yourself

Goal setting is broken: It’s okay to not have a long term goal

For a long time, I believed that I was wasting my life because I didn’t have a goal. The conventional wisdom is that if you don’t have a goal, then it’s necessary to set one. We’re told that long term goals give our life direction and without one we’re just wasting time. There are many people who buy into this way of thinking and then worry and think it’s a bad thing that they don’t have a goal.

But this way of thinking is wrong. We need to unlearn goal setting because goal setting is a backwards process. Continue reading

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Filed under Finding Yourself, Fulfillment, Self Improvement

Forget about grades, just enjoy this life

Going through schooling, we’re preached the importance of having good grades. We’re told that if we get good grades, then we’ll be set for life. We’ll get into college. We’ll get into grad school. We’ll get a good job, have a family, live a good life, and live happily ever after. So we follow this mindset. We sacrifice sleep, our health, our mental stability just to earn an A. It’s okay to suffer now in order to get good grades because we set ourselves up for success later.

But this way of thinking is backwards. We don’t need to suffer now. We can live happily, get good grades, and let our happiness lead us to finding success. And we don’t even need good grades. Just live happily and let our happiness lead us to finding success. Steve Jobs had a 2.65 GPA in high school and dropped out of college. Colin Powell barely graduated high school while Richard Branson didn’t even make it through high school. Malcolm Gladwell couldn’t get into graduate school because his undergrad grades were so poor. Continue reading

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Filed under Curriculum, Finding Yourself, Self Improvement

Stop comparing yourself to others

Yesterday, I saw an article about a book a 17 year old is writing. It’s about education. He’s proposing a completely new system to education including getting rid of the standardized tests like the SAT. I think it’s great, we need more awareness that the current state of education sucks.

And then I wonder why I’m not writing a book. I should be doing that. I’m three years older than Nikhil is and I have the same goal that he does: positively change education.

So I tell myself that I’m going to write a book. I tell myself that I’m starting today. I don’t know anything about the process it takes to write a book, so I do some research. Writing a book is going to be harder than I thought. I don’t have time to write a couple hours every day; I’m a university student and I need to learn how to parse inputs using regular expressions by tomorrow. My motivation starts to waver. Continue reading

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Filed under Finding Yourself, Fulfillment, Self Improvement

Be the best you

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing is truly a good thing. If it’s good for the world, for myself, for others.

A couple of days ago, I had a fight with one of my colleagues. We’re both helping run the Berkeley Math Tournament (if you’re a high schooler in the Bay Area, you should register), and we were working on a schedule for tournament day. I didn’t like her idea — I felt it was a huge waste of time, so I told her it was stupid.

She didn’t take my criticism well and so we started fighting. I don’t like backing down in fights, and as it escalated, harsher words were said.

She stormed out of the room and didn’t come back. I felt bad. I hadn’t fought with anyone in a long time. Continue reading

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How to get into the school of your dreams: 6 admissions essay tips

College admissions is hyped up as one of the most stressful times of your life. For most people, it’s the first big application that they’ve done. There are no guarantees. This isn’t applying for your high school honor society, this is something more. If you don’t get in to a school you want, you see yourself as a failure.

And that’s the way most people view the college admissions process: they view it in a negative light. People don’t think about how much they can accomplish if they get into MIT. They think about how much they’ve failed if they don’t. Too many people see college admission as “happiness on the other side”; if you get into the school you want, then you’ll be happy. People are motivated by failure.

Let’s change this way of thinking. Why not be motivated to have success — why not be happy first? We know that if you’re happier, then you’re more creative, you have more energy, you can think better. So shift your mode of thinking — don’t put happiness after being admitted. Be happy now and let it lead you to being admitted. And if you’re not happy, just forget about the negative thoughts. Think positively. If you want to be happy, then you can be happy. Continue reading

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Filed under College Admissions, Fulfillment, How to write

5 ways for teachers to improve their student’s writing

In english class, we’re taught to recognize motifs, literary devices, and analyze characters. But we’re not taught how to write. Schools believe that we’ll learn how to write by diffusion: read and write without instruction, and we’ll know how to write. But it doesn’t workHigh schoolers suck at writing.

High schoolers suck at writing because our schools fail them. Starting from elementary school and through high school, english classes just aren’t providing the necessary teaching for kids to become good writers. Here are a couple things teachers can do in the classroom to improve writing: Continue reading

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Filed under Curriculum, How to write