5 books every student must read before they graduate

It’s becoming clear and clearer that school at all levels is not preparing us enough for the real world. Unlike high school, college or varsity, life does not have an exam and a memorandum. School is designed in such a way that it is programmatic and hence we study under a program. The truth is that life doesn’t have any programs; you create your own. Life after school is usually frustrating for most people as they feel stripped away from their souls because of the eight to four jobs. The rhythm and routines of an eight to four and once-a-month income job breed a boring and uninspired life. Simply put, you’re in a survival mode. In order to cherish life and find inner happiness human beings need to be in a position of thriving — not surviving. Here are five books that will help you bypass the hell of a life after graduation.

  1. The Alchemist

The alchemist is a fable about following your dreams. Each and every one of us was born with something we treasure. Within us lies an untold story which only gets communicated to us by our silent voice. These stories are often silenced forever by the choices we make and fear of failure. Most students are studying for careers they’re not passionate about because of circumstances. Just like Santiego in the Alchemist, our treasures have been communicated to us through our dreams. Without getting too much into details, it is important that as a student you appreciate the fact that dreams are real and the silent voice within is real. Reading this book will help you synthesize the world of possibilities in dreams so you can make a decision. You could decide to quit and follow your dreams or graduate, and then follow your dreams. The most important thing is that you ultimately follow your dreams.

2. Rework

Rework is a book for entrepreneurs or starters. It deconstructs the myth of workaholism and emphasizes the importance of breaking long term goals into smaller, and achievable tasks. “Break your estimates into smaller bites. That is, instead of one 12-week project, structure it as 12 one-week projects.” It is common practice for students to draw out quarterly study time tables that only last for 2 days and gather dust on the wall throughout the year. Learning is very incremental and trying to go at 4 subjects or modules a day after classes is unrealistic and inefficient. We all know the guys who spent every day in the library killing hours and still got chowed by the course. Instead of having a quarterly study timetable, work on a daily study plan with one or two modules to study for. Things change daily in school and the workload is unpredictable. You need to be flexible and responsive to the dynamics of your workload. These principles will help you later in running your own business while you’re working. Do not stay all night studying and not learning anything so you feel better about yourself. “Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.”

Never give yourself a badge of honor for pulling an all-nighter; it is stupid! The clever student is the one who went early to bed because she figured out how to study for few hours and still pass. How are you going to participate in other things and learn new stuff while you are staying in the library? This book will teach you other concepts that will prepare you for life under and post grad.

3. Rich Day, Poor Dad

We all go to school so that we make money. When all is said and done it’s all about the moola baby! Passion my ass! Who is passionate about assignments, exams and Harvard referencing style? Try next door! Not here (in Juju’s voice). One of the demons that will keep you employed until you even forget about your dreams is debt. The book teaches you the value of money and how to get money to work for you. Imagine you have assets valued at more than your combined annual salary of your first 3 years of work. That’s enough money to make more money and follow your dreams at the same time. Being an investor at a young age, even from as little as R100, could be the difference between you being a slave for a payslip and travelling the world just after graduation to search for your treasures. There’s no better way to prepare yourself than to be financially prepared.

4. Lean Start-up

College and varsity years are years of experimentation. At this age, no one expects anything from you other than a pass. As you age, debts and other responsibilities (marriage) pile up in your life and tie you up. As a result, your risk appetite gets depleted and you become very conservative. You can’t even play power ball. It’s too risky. Lean start-up will help you cultivate a culture of starting small and failing small so you can move on. In academia, it can help you to pivot early in your first or second year to a course that you like more instead of failing many times because you don’t want to be defeated. If you don’t enjoy it, leave it. Don’t wait to graduate, go to work and realize on your first performance review that you were not meant for that job. Embrace failure and pivot. Don’t get too stuck on the name and stigma. You will never get that time wasted back! This is the modus operandi in tech start-ups and this book will dissect the concept very well for you.

5. The hard thing about hard things

One of my favorite books. This is about starting a business when there are no easy answers. This is about passing when all odds are against you. No bursary or financial aid. It’s about getting a piece job to buy food while you are studying. It is also about preparing yourself to find jobs when there are no jobs. It’s about passing that module while everyone has been failing it. This is problem solving. This is your manual for life. This is making it despite your sponsor dropping you. Damn, google this book and get onto it ASAP!

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