The most valuable lessons I learned from college

Why do we only focus on the classroom lessons? What about the invaluable life skills that we pick up while we bunk classes with friends? [ Day 16 of “One Day, One Blog”]

I did my B.Tech From Govt Model Engineering College and completed PGDM from XIM, Bhubaneswar.

I am a huge fan of both my colleges! Here’s why.

If you have read some of my previous articles, you may have come away with the impression that I was a horrible student who fared very badly in college. While that is not entirely incorrect if my marks were the measurement criteria, I believe that I did not come away with an empty mind.

I learned some incredibly valuable lessons from both these wonderful colleges.

Today, when I see the spoon-feeding mechanisms that seem to be the order of the day in many colleges, I worry that these children are missing out on a lot.

So what are these important lessons that I learned?

Respect

“Give respect, even where it is not due. It’s an investment for the future” — me :)

I once got into an altercation with a teacher over a lab experiment. I felt the teacher was being vindictive towards me and I was being punished unfairly. While I refused to budge on my stance over the issue, I never raised my voice at her. After the incident, I continued to show her the same respect that I have always accorded her.

In this particular case, it turned out that I was right. But there have been plenty of incidents where I was wrong. I always make it a point to clearly express my regret and apologize in such circumstances.

Perhaps, that is the reason why despite being very mediocre in my studies, even today teachers remember me fondly and welcome me with a smile when I visit them.

Today, the attrition among teachers in colleges are quite high. So perhaps the students do not get the same opportunity to form the bonds that we did. But when I see them snubbing authority to be cool, I am often tempted to give a whack on their head.

I recognize that there are a lot of students who do respect the teachers. But I do feel that the majority thinks respecting teachers is “uncool” — perhaps its the onset of old age that this bothers me so much.

In the earlier mentioned incident, the teacher concerned never expressed any regret. That created a big impression on me. I always make sure that I don’t do that with my team.

Team Work

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” — Mattie Stepanek

Let me tell you about a certain Professor at XIMB. All XIMB-ians upto a certain generation will get the reference.

He would give us assignments that needed to be submitted on or before 11:59 pm on the said date. These were projects that needed to be completed as a team.

There would also be at least 3 such other assignments ( without the 11:59 pm deadline) and 2 quizzes which we would need to be prepared for in the same time frame.

We rarely had an assignment that was to be done in an individual capacity.

And most of the time, all these projects had different team members.

In the 2 years that we spend in XIM Bhubaneswar, we definitely learned about multitasking and working with different teams. You learned to get along with people ( you had no choice — its either that or flunk) and complete the task as a team.

I was shocked to realize that today there are companies that sell completed projects to students. When you do that, please realize that you are not just missing out on the subject knowledge. You also loose out on knowing how to operate in a team.

Loyalty

“ Within the hearts of men, loyalty and consideration are esteemed greater than success.” -Bryant H. McGill

Once, some of my best buddies decided to fiddle around and create a radio. A bit of DIY, you might say. But they did not stop there. They decided to go ahead and start transmitting in the local FM frequency. Being very creative individuals, the “content” of transmission was …err…. Yeah, lets not get into that.

Unfortunately for them, their warden had tuned in and caught them in the act. All of them were suspended. The perpetrators, the audience and the landlords ( the original occupants of the hostel room from where the transmissions took place), all were in trouble.

The college authorities spent days “questioning them” to isolate the real transgressors. If anyone gave in, those kids would have had to face much more than a suspension.

But the sheer loyalty they showed each other ensured no one got thrown out. While I am not recommending that people try a similar stunt, I learned a big lesson on loyalty from my friends that day.

Organizational Skills

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” -Albert Einstein

I call these life skills for a reason. Often, while recruiting for non-tech roles, I probe to find out if the candidate has organizational skills. Because if I find this particular skill set, it also encompases some of the above mentioned qualities.

Some of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from Govt Model Engineering College comes from running around the campus , organizing various events. Making do with limited resources, talking to complete strangers so that they sponsor a banner for 1000 bucks at the sports meet, motivating team-mates as they get ready for events, negotiation with other teams, you learn all that and much more .

In fact, it is the relationship built from running around organizing various such activities that resulted in a friendship that is Fourth Ambit, today.

Hard work

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” -Colin Powell

When I say that I was super lazy in academics and then claim that I learned the value of hard work from college, it may sound contradictory, right?

At XIMB, I was elected to be part of the placement committee. At the end of our tenure , which includes a full fledged placement week, we had 100% placements with over 180 offers ( quite a few had multiple offers at the end of the week). This was sheer hard work by a team of students and some of the faculty.

When the going gets tough, you roll up your sleeves and get your hand dirty. That’s one lesson I learned from my Alma Mater.

Outsourced project work, events organized by college management — these are depriving the students from valuable life lessons.

I wish our institutions would pay attention to these lessons, which occur beyond the classrooms.

— — — — — — — — — — — —

Friends, this is the Day 16 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog

If you have liked this article, please do hit the ❤ so that it will help others discover this article. Thanks much!