Competition in College : Tips for College Success in the US
Competition The trick in American colleges, it’s not getting in but staying there. My first day of college as an undergraduate, the dean spoke to all he incoming freshmen. He said “I want all of you to introduce yourselves to the person on your rightÉ” and he said, I want all of you to introduce yourselves to the person on your left.” Then he said, “Only one of you will succeed in graduating.” He was pretty much right. Of nine hundred incoming freshmen in my class only about three hundred and fifty got their degrees. What happened in between was college. Now, in most countries… in many countries you take a test to find out which college you’re going to be able to go to and it’s ranked according to your score and once you get in your worries are pretty much over. You have to work, but not as hard as you had to do with fear of failure and a low test score hanging over you. In America, your test scores matter. They’re part of the admissions process: TOEFL or SAT or GRE or LSAT or whatever. They’re an important piece of the puzzle, but here we know that the test score is not going to predict your college any more than having speed and accuracy of kicking and lots of strength is gonna predict how well you can play soccer. To know how well you’re gonna play soccer you actually have to play on a team competing against against other players. And that’s how we view college. So you should see college in that model, like a competitive sport. If you want to play the game, you have to start on a small team, say your undergraduate school, and you prove yourself by being such a good player there that you get to play on the professional team which is the Harvard MBA program. Alright? So, in America, while there is competition to get into the best schools, the real challenges begin after you are in class. So you need to think of every class as a match. Alright? Now, you might think, “Well, I’ll be okay.” There are a lot of teachers who grade on something called “a curve.” If you imagaine there fifteen people in the class, the teacher divides it up and there’ll be… right.. we have AÉBÉCÉDÉand F So there’ll be like, 1 A, 3 B’s, 7 C’s 3 D’s and 1 F. No matter how well or how poorly you do, it’s all in relationship to the other players, not absolute. So you can have a 99 average, and if somebody has a 100 average, that person gets the A, and you get the B. So who’s gonna get the A, you or me? That’s the competition that you will face. So, now, some people play sports only to play, to compete for a ranking. They don’t play to win. Like a marathon that’s a very long and only one person can win, but many people play just to finish. And that’s okay. That’s a legitimate reason for playing. But still even to finish a marathon you have to train really hard. And if your grades fall too low, you’ll be dropped. You’ll be dropped from the race So you have to take into consideration the competition. You have to stay in the top half. And remember. The top half gets harder every year because the low ones have already been dropped and the competition is among these people, and then these people. So the competition gets tougher every year. American colleges are competitive game, and you have to play really hard just to finish.