Should you have a “Story?”

I recently went to see a Stanford Med student give a talk about med school. I have no idea if I want to go to med school but I thought it would be interesting to hear just in case. This student told us about her undergrad experience, applying to med school, and a little bit about her first year. It was all really interesting but there was one thing she said that really stuck out to me.

She was telling us about an interview that she had with one med school she applied to. Apparently these schools look at every single detail from the application and they ask tons of questions. One of the interviewers asked her why she chose to spend one of her summers coaching girls basketball instead of, say, doing research or something else that fit with her path of medicine. This med student then gave everyone in the room advice and said we should make sure that what we do during summers and free time should fit our overall “story.”

By “story” she meant that everything we did should contribute to this image of the person we wanted to be at the end of the day. I agree that there should be an end goal for who we want to be in life. However, I think that the only way to figure that out is though trial and error.

My personal philosophy is that you should try as many different things as you can so that when you do settle down on a career, you have already been exposed to as much as possible.

I’ve talked about this before, but I do feel like much of middle and high school is just prep for what’s next and that’s why I was so excited for college. I wanted to learn for the sake of learning and explore everything. However, the idea that we have to act in a calculating way and justify our choices to someone for the sake of having a “story” is the exact opposite.

I’m still figuring out what I want to do in college and for a career, but I do know that my decisions will be made based on my interests and not because I have to stay within the confines of some arbitrary “story.”

Also, it’s easier to see how all the choices you’ve made in life fit together in hindsight. For example, Steve Jobs dropped out of college but continued to take classes that he was interested in. He took a calligraphy class that later contributed to the typography in the first Mac.

You never know where you’re going to end up in life, so I say try as many different hobbies and take as many classes as you can, because you never know what you’ll find interesting until you actually try.

Side note- That’s also a lot of pressure to put on someone who doesn’t know what they want to do yet. If they don’t know what they want to do, how are they supposed to make sure it all fits nicely into one story? It’s like walking from point A to point B through an obstacle course for the first time, but being told you have to lead another group through as you’re trying to figure it out for yourself.

Those are my thoughts, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

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Let’s talk about…

Community College.

As I said in the last post, I do attend community college and I wanted to talk more about that.

I feel like community college gets such a bad rap (maybe just where I’m from) and it really doesn’t deserve it. I’m guilty of looking down on it too, but I’ve since changed my stance.

I used to think that community college was a last resort place where only people who flunked out of high school go. Yes, there are people like that, but there are also so many other types of people: brilliant kids who couldn’t afford a 4-year school, international kids who are trying to work the system, adults who are rekindling their passion for learning, and kids like me who ended up there by chance.

Throughout my first year in community college, I’ve been exposed to the many benefits of this route- saving money (like so much money that I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t take this route), having small class sizes (my biggest class is a 60 person lecture), and getting to scope out different majors and classes before spending lots of time and money switching in a 4 year university.

All of these benefits are great, but there are a few downsides that I’ve experienced. The biggest one is transferring.

My goal going in to JC (junior college) was to transfer out as fast as I could. This is a lot harder than it sounds. For one thing, I’m 18 years old and I have no idea what the hell I want to do for the rest of my life. Sure, I’m interested in the brain, so I just default to what I’ve heard and just say neuroscience. But my JC doesn’t offer major specific classes like Neuroscience, so I have no idea what it actually entails.

The other thing that I didn’t know going in was that each (public) college that I consider transferring to has slightly different prerequisites for the same major. So forget about transferring out in two years if you have a high unit major, because by the time you actually decide what specific major you want and what schools you want to keep open, you’ll already have been in school for a year.

I really don’t want to discourage anyone from considering community college as an option, because I truly think the positives outweigh the negatives, but I also want people to know what their getting into, because I didn’t. It’s just frustrating to go into something with no resources. But I hope this didn’t completely turn anyone off of community college.

I’m still getting used to it here, but I’ve really grown to like it.

Let me know in the comments if you have similar experiences or completely new ones!

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College

All throughout middle school, teachers prepare you for the next step in life- high school. Same goes for high school, you spend four years preparing for college. I thought college was going to be the time when people stop preparing you and finally let you live, but apparently the rules are very different for those of us in community college.

As  a senior in high school I thought my life was set. I had a spot in a good college, I was almost done with high school, and it was almost summer. Little did I know that my life was not going to be that simple.

As a graduation present, my parents took my family and I over seas for one of the best family vacations. On vacations, the point (at least for me) is to be detached from everything, including email. Now here’s a tip about international travel- make sure you check internet at least a few times in your trip otherwise you may miss that very important email from your future. In my case, my college had emailed and asked for the transcript from that one elective class I took over the summer before junior year. Of course, being in another country, I didn’t send it in time and that was that.

In the split second after reading that rejection letter, my entire life was changed. I went through all seven stages of grief of course, but afterwards my eyes were opened to the endless possibilities of the rest of my life.

This evil email was no longer evil because it freed me from expectations. Yes, I still wanted a good job later in life, but after months of nonstop thinking about what to do, I realized that this is a blessing in disguise. I no longer had to follow convention, and I realized how ridiculous this convention was. People are so focused on the future that they rarely stop to enjoy the present.

I know how cliche this sounds, but it’s the truth. When you have the future laid out for you by the generations who came before, there is no time for self exploration, much less world exploration.

I am at community college right now, but this path is so different than the one I expected that it really opened my eyes to the world around me.

So, this is the story of how I was freed from convention.

Stay tuned to find out what life on the wild side is like…. 🙂