NextPath – 13 Things I Wish I Learned in College

NextPath – 13 Things I Wish I Learned in College – yes, I realize that I’m still in “college” (in Canada we call it University 😉 ), but there are a few good points in this…

1. Getting to the Point

This is a very, very important skill. I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s not just that it is important, it also seems to be something that few people can do well, when in fact everyone needs to learn how to do this well. The director of my program at university is a great and intelligent guy, but I recently heard him speak, starting with a five-minute disclaimer that he was going to have to be brief on that occasion. Essays and papers for school that give wordcounts (or worse, pagecounts) are hardly improving our ability to get to the point.

2. Making Proper Presentations

This is also very important. Many of my courses involve giving presentations, and this is good. However the assumption is clearly that practice makes perfect… and this is true, once you’ve learned how to do something. The problem is that how to give good and effective presentations is never taught at all, so people give a poor presentation, and then the next time, give another poor presentation. I consider myself a pretty good presenter these days (I definitely wasn’t always), but I’m still learning and know that I always will be.

9. Taking the Initiative

This one is very tricky. University is a set of required courses, which have set durations, set textbooks, and set assignments with set questions at set lengths. There is almost never any room to initiate anything, so the only people who ever do so are the ones who don’t sleep because they’re volunteering for student societies or other volunteer activities.


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One Response to NextPath – 13 Things I Wish I Learned in College

  1. Mattt says:

    Word counts / page counts are stupid. Outside of the insane people who write too much (and I’m not talking about the people who write too much trash), I’ve never met a person who hits the page count spot-on. You’ve always got to go back and add a bit here or there to make it x pages. Or maybe you added a bit here or there as you went along writing it the first time.

    With my KGB essay in PSCI last semester, I had to give up at 11/15 pages because there wasn’t any more to say. But I could have explain it with 1 page even. Heck, I could explain it to you in one sentence: Russia is screwed.

    But the worst part is that you’re not even doing anything original. You “research” tens or hundreds of pages that other people wrote and researched and then summarise it in “your own words”. What does this really add to society? Nothing. Yeah, it increased my personal knowledge of the subject but it doesn’t prove anything beyond a) I can read and b) I know how to find synonyms.

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