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What I wish I had Known in My First Year

Last week there was an orientation day in our college for the first years. So I thought what my senior self could have said to me as a kind of sermon. Here’s it goes. By the way, knowing things doesn’t matter. But knowing those when it’s highly essential, is desirable. For example, in the first year rather than by the end of 4th year.
Let’s go through one by one.
01. Choose what you want to do
02. Decide what you want to learn
03. Is everyone equal?
04. Manage the time
05. Read as much as you can
06. Invest in Life skills
07. Set a long-term goal
08. Know who you are
09. Understand what education is
10. And, what ‘Job’ really is?
11. Computer Skills

With details:
1. Choose what you want to do
This might be the first step anyone would want to take. Why because, joining Engineering has been associated with a variety of weird answers ranging from no-good-college-in-my-neighbourhood to just because I didn’t what to do.
A number of things help here. Some people might not be academically interested. For them, honestly, Engineering gives so many hours of free time that one could virtually  manage a business or become a pro gamer using the free time available.
If you are reading this, I presume that you like reading more than others. Isn’t it?

2. Decide what you want to learn
The college hours are too less ,giving ample time to pursue anything. That can be taking dance classes, piano classes or simply more time reading. Decide on one thing and master it. It helps because when people ask what you do other than the professional ones, you can take pride in saying : “Oh yes, I play Chopin’s composition during my free time.”

3. Is everyone equal?
In college you get to meet so many people. The crucial decision is to take who are your acquaintances and who are your friends. With the social networking sites, the line is now heavily blurred but it is useful to remember whom to seek in times of difficulty.
Like anything, friendship takes a lot of time,energy.

4. Manage your time
Perhaps the most important point.If you carefully observe, you find that, in two of the above points abundant time resource  is talked about. Why is it important to safeguard time and make the most out of it? Simply because, you are earning money in terms of time. You may hear about CEOs earning lots of rupees, but how much time they get for themselves? Hardly any. This is a bizarre conundrum which is hard to digest. So maybe, you want to be jealous about your time.

5. Read as much as you can
This is one thing everyone should strive to achieve. If you weren’t into books or reading, may be try reading only one book whole month. As the months progresses, the book count can be suitably increased.
What I have noticed is that, the best people read a lot. I mean like hell. Then they discuss about it. So to be a part of a meaningful conversation, useful stock is necessary and it is got only by reading. And reading is not limited to books in the traditional sense. It can include blogs and other channels too. Listening to a very good podcast is as good as reading.

6. Invest in Life Skills
Another important factor. In school or the intermediate , studying the core subjects drains a lot of time and anyone is hardly left with free time. Come Engineering and, you get plenty to make most out of it.
So what can be probably done? These include subjects such as Body Language, Social Norms, Life Hacks(making the most of available time) etc. and things like that.  Suggestion would be reading best sellers like Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People, Allan Pease’s Body Language, Going through the questions relating to topics like Body Language, Etiquette etc on Quora( Observe that #5 is repeated here in a subtle way).

7. Set a long term goal
This is a kind of necessary thing, I believe. If there’s no direction in life, we would virtually start chasing everything. Having a long term goal, however mediocre it may sound, is a good thing. As and when the priorities change which demand a necessary change in goal, then the goal can be modified.

8. Know who you are
It’s an important thing to come in terms with. We all have unique abilities, which are a product of different basic core competencies. Some may like coding,others visual arts, some others just plain reading while some others insists on experimentation. Though we don’t know exactly what we are good at this point of time, learning new things is a necessary thing. I didn’t know I love writing and after initial hesitation, I gave it a try and now I love doing writing not just a blog but scribbling wherever I find a blank paper.
Some might not had an exposure to know that there are a number of games. For example I never knew there existed a game called Go, which is  an abstract  game, I now enjoy playing that game than anything else. The takeaway is that by experience variety of things, we can come to realize what we want to do for the rest of life. No one in the world can help you except yourself.
Understanding the type of personality of a person helps too. Find out your personality by taking a free test here based on Briggs-Meyers typology.

9. Understand what Education is
Education now a days has no value in traditional sense. If you look at the billionaires list on the Forbes list , many of them are college dropouts. In some other fields such as business, many don’t have an education at all. The acumen they possess is simply because of their ability to reason how the system works and what they should do to make sure they get through. That is what we should learn , in or outside of a college.
Recently a movement called UnCollege is making waves. When the world class materials from universities like MIT are freely available, how can one resist the urge not learning from it? Here what is significant is the rationale behind the  idea –  What should one learn? It’s worth noting that when a Stanford Artificial Intelligence class was offered online to anyone in the world with an internet connection, more than 58000 people signed up.
In such an environment, knowing what is really important for oneself becomes a prime factor. To say, we should try to reason to find the best that is available to us and go in search of things we don’t get there.

10. And, what ‘Job’ really is?
I can’t say anything about it since I don’t have an experience. But this essay by Paul Graham is worth reading. I bet.

11. Computer Skills
This is something no one teaches you. The truth is, as the society is looking more at the computers for everything, the basic skill set which includes using a computer will be an asset.
So what are the things that you should learn right now? The foremost is the ability to touch-type. It is a boon to finish an assignment in 30 minutes by touch typing that with sorrow we  peck at the alphabets on the keyboard for 3 hours.
Being knowledgeable about using a text editor in an advanced way( I suggest Vim), office suite like LibreOffice or Microsoft Office is also very helpful. When you are asked to do a chart with some advanced calculations, rather than cutting a sorry figure, a little acquaintance with the likes of Excel is highly called for.
Also, being a Linux/Unix literate from early on is very helpful.

This isn’t an end. But a start to a remarkable journey.

P.S: Other pages I feel worth looking at:

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