On any given day, my blog gets an average of 11 visitors. Nobody reads my shit. I also don’t blog all that frequently, and when I do, other than 1 tweet and 1 share on Facebook, I do very little to promote my stuff. Usually I get a couple of comments from some friends if the topic is relevant to them (read: basketball), and that’s about it. I only blog because writing has always been therapeutic to me. 3 days ago, I had gotten so tired of seeing stories in the news about kids in college committing suicide because they were overwhelmed / depressed, that I decided to do something about it and publish my transcript for the world to see how little your GPA matters. That’s when things started to go crazy.
Within the first few hours of sharing the post on Facebook, I could tell that this article was getting a little more love that usual, with my phone pretty much constantly buzzing with notifications. But my picture with Michael Jordan had gotten just as much love, and so I didn’t think much of it. It took about 24 hours for things to really kick into high gear though. By the following evening, the number of likes on the post were going up in increments of 100, every 30 minutes. The post seemed to have actually gone viral. The blog couldn’t quite handle the traffic, and the site went down for nearly 6 hours, before things got fixed.
But forget all the likes and the retweets. What has been truly incredible is the response I’ve gotten from so many people that have written in. I guess that’s what you get if you leave your email address in a blog post. My hope was that 1 person somewhere in the world, who was suffering from extreme anxiety about his / her grades would read this post, and possibly feel a little better. Instead what I got was an outpouring of support from current students, to be students, and people who had graduated years ago. Even some parents wrote in to express how this had changed their view on parenting. I got emails from students that were currently suspended from universities due to bad grades, and had lost all hope for a future. I heard from people who had actually contemplated suicide in the past. I got messages from as far away as Israel and Bangladesh. I heard from people who were working 3 jobs because they couldn’t afford school, and so their grades were down in the dumps. Some people quoted the Talmud, some called me a hero. Thank god I didn’t end up with any marriage proposals (though that would have probably left my mom thrilled).
Through the craziness of the past 3 days though, there were only 3 things that crossed my mind: 1. I felt a responsibility to respond personally to every single person who had written in (which I did – I can’t go to bed till I have inbox zero, and so I haven’t slept very much this week), 2. Was it just a coincidence that more than 75% of the messages I got were from people of East Asian or South Asian descent? and 3. Holy shit, there are so many kids in college who are suffering from the same overwhelming feeling that I went through, and yet nobody has bothered to tell any of these people the truth about the real world: It isn’t your GPA, but your relationships that will ultimately determine everything – not just what sort of success you have in your career, but generally in all spheres of life as well. Relationships are what make the world go round (that, and gravity I think).
The past three days have made it abundantly clear to me that no college in America is actually preparing students for the real world. I had always felt that it was just the classes that were full of nonsense that I would never use in my job, but after this response, I realized that the entire experience is lacking something fundamental: They just aren’t keeping it real. Nobody is teaching these kids the importance of building relationships. About being on time. About being responsive. About being courteous. About fucking grammar! The number of people in the American work force that don’t know the difference between “their” and “there” is absolutely mind-blowing. Hey Harvard – how about you teach your students to string together a sentence before you dive into string theory?
The American education system needs reform. It’s too expensive. It’s too antiquated. It doesn’t teach you the skills you need for the life. More than anything else, it just doesn’t keep it real.