All posts tagged: college

Graduation day

Commencement officially marks the end of student life, even though in our minds, the transition was made the day we finished our last exam in college. We’ve entered the next level of that video game that never ceases to fascinate us. Treasures have been found, hills climbed, landscapes traversed, battles fought and won or lost, accomplices identified, cheat codes memorized indelably. The time has come to remodel the avatar and refine the tasks. Staging black gowns and graduation hats, the class of 2009 officially ended its undergraduate tenure. There were smiles and flashes everywhere; Commencement 2009 at SMU (Singapore Management University, from where I graduate) became the culmination of all memories created and collected over 4 years. My own ineffability thus far was transcended by a sense of delight and hope, and a tinge of nostalgia. The commencement address, delivered by a member of the Keppel Coporation, was, in all aspects, disappointing, dismaying and demotivating. The R word was justified in being featured in the speech, but certainly not expected to consume it entirely. Tell …

Off the beaten track

College degrees are analogous to fashion trends. The ones that manage to attain critical mass sell like hot cakes, albiet periodically. The 80s were for med schools, the 90s saw students flock to engineering, the early 2000s started the fad of computer wizards, the last 4-5 years have generated an inordinate number of bankers, and the next few, I predict, will see the masses revert back to the doctors and engineers. In fact, fancy foreign banking experience, which once scored points for eligible bachelors (particularly Indian, since the arranged marriage concept is almost alien to other nationalities), has become quite the tabboo this season. During my own time in college, I have seen many a talent wasted in the race for the most popular college degree. Off beat degrees, it seems, are still only for the daredevils, the rich & hence financially secure, and those who can’t make the academic cutoff of mainstream courses. Of course, there are those who discover only midway through college that they are not cut out for the rat race. …

The 3 best graduation speeches

[Update September 2018]: I’m excited to share that after 7 years of travelling the world – 5 of those without a home or permanent address – I’ve written a book about my journey! My first book, The Shooting Star, charts my journey from the cubicle to the road and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. Published by Penguin, the book is now available on Amazon and Flipkart. Words can be ‘weapons’ of mass inspiration, especially when the right ones are found at the right moments, moments which tend to define the rest of our lives. The following three graduation speeches inspire me most as I prepare to undertake the journey that lies ahead. One. Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple, to the Class of 2005 at Stanford. Two. Chetan Bhagat, an IIT grad and the author of Five Point Someone, at Symbiosis (India) Convocation 2008. Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort …

Is college education over-rated?

As a graduating student, I’m starting to question the purpose of a college education. Is a ‘degree’ really worth all the money, time and effort? Do we really learn what they think we do, does it really prepare us for the big, bad world?  I doubt it. After 3 years in college and counting, I have started to doubt that I learnt anything ‘real’ at all in college. I’ve learnt so much more outside of classes and outside of college, and that is probably complimentary to growing older. So when I consider college in isolation, I’m not convinced it’s a value-add. I found the following video on youtube. It’s so brilliantly made and clearly illustrates the point that I’m struggling to make. Maybe it’s just me, but spending close to 3.5 years in such a grade-centric environment has almost killed my belief in education, staggered my creativity and made me reconsider any ambition for further education. It never occurred to me that in college, everyone will be running a politically correct race for grades, with …

The end is nearing

This is HUGE, bigger than huge. I am graduating in exactly 2 months, 17 days. It might seem like an exaggeration, but things always look commonplace when they happen to other people. I wonder if other people have felt the same way about finishing college – overwhelmed.  It struck me recently when I happened to run my degree progress report: So there it is. I am going to be a graduate in less than 3 months. And it is huge.

Last semester at college

It’s been a while since I talked about the real stuff that’s been bothering me. The Olympics, Indian news channels, people, are all very well, but I’m pushing aside things that I should really be thinking about. I’m exactly 3 months and 15 days away from graduating. Overwhelming, if one word could sum it up. It’s going to be the end of 3.5 years at college, it feels like the end of an era, and also like a fleeting moment that passed me by with my eyes still shut. The nostalgia is not looming yet, the friendships are still strong, but the future (suddenly?) isn’t looking bright enough. For 3 years, I have been waiting to miraculously discover the trail that my life’s supposed to take. What will I change in the remaining 1/2 of the year (or 3 months, 15 days to be more precise)? Disinterest is giving way to anxiety, and anxiety to fear and hatred. Fear and hatred of my future, of the things that lie ahead for me, of the sell-out that …

Working in a bank

For a long time, I thought banks were plain evil. I guess it started with how everyone (almost everyone) in college wants to get a job in a bank, some bank, any bank. To me, it came as a stark reminder of how people are all rowing their boats towards the same lighthouse, and how they’d probably crash on the same rock. It isn’t for the love of the work. Only money. A series of poor judgments and a phase of desperation later, I find myself working in, well, a bank! It puts my ‘principles’ on dubious grounds. It makes me a two-faced hypocrite. It took nothing less than courage to walk into that office, stamping over everything I had quite believed in. A week and a half into it, I’m almost proud to say I’ve survived. I must admit how baseless my “logic” was. At least as far as Marketing is concerned, a consumer bank is extremely similar to any other consumer goods company. They merely sell financial plans, like a telecom company would …