College life part 2

A first year student wrote to me: ”I am very interested in the CMU software engineering program but my friends told me that it is very difficult. Many people who studied it have switch to other easier programs. What do you think? Please advise."

Answer: Education is an investment of your time, effort and money for a better future. It is NOT something that you want to waste. As I have written in several articles previously that student must find what they really like because if they do not like it, they will not go very far. The choice that you make now will affect the rest of your life. Whatever field of study that you chose today, you will have to live with it for a long time. Please think about it carefully. Do you want to spend your life working on something that you do NOT like? Do you want to work in a job that you will count every minutes and wait for the end of the day? Right now as first year student you have to make decision based on what you like. NOT making decision on what you like but follow your friend's advice could be a mistake. If you chose an easy field of study then my question is what would you get from that?

If you go to college just to get a degree but NOT knowledge than any easy field will do. The same thing happen to people who travel without a map, without a destination than any road is fine. Would you be happy to do that for the rest of your life? Would you accept anything that come along? Would you willing to work on any job, including jobs that do not require any education? Do you know how many students select “easy area” then regret later after they graduated and could not find jobs? How many of them have paid a lot of money for a piece of paper called “Degree” that have NO VALUE? How many of them waste time and family's money on something worthless? How many of them will have to work on something that have nothing to do with their college education? College is NOT the place to find something easy to do. You do NOT go to college to study something easy. You go to college to get educated. You go to college to gain knowledge and develop skills that can help you build a career for the rest of your life. As college student, you must challenge yourself. You must investigate different options to find the right field of study that you like. You must make decision NOW and you will be better later. Please talk with school counselors and professors who may be able to help you to select something that fit your interests.

In college, there are many temptations. Some students select easy field of study because it will allow them more time for entertainment. They can go to parties, they can play video games all days, they can sit in coffee shop and watch people pass by, they can spend more time talking about movie stars and music bands. Then suddenly they will have to deal with a bigger issue: What are they going to do with the rest of their life? What are they going to do with degrees that do not mean anything. If you think college is a big party with friends, at the end of college when the party ends, you will find that many of your friends were only there for the party. When there is no more party, you will have no more friends and no more relationships. Without the knowledge and the skills, a college degree is ONLY a piece of paper. As first year student, you must realize that time in college is short, in just about four year you will have to find job and earn a living for the rest of your life. Please do NOT miss this opportunity to study and to meet people who are there to get educated. By study with people who are serious about their education, you will find true friendship that last longer than the time you are in college. Maybe you also find a friend that you want to spend your life with, someone who will help you, encourage you and share the life with you.

I hope you find my advice helpful. I hope that you can make the most of your college experience and avoid many mistakes that other have made. You have many opportunities to set yourself on a path to happiness and success. By making the right decision now, you will be much better tomorrow.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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