My advice to my kids when they start school:

Back  in my university days, I, like many other people, was guided by a firm conviction that good grades were everything.
Both my parents and my teachers kept insisting that high achievement would help me unlock all the important doors of this world. A high score is the key to a successful life!

And I blindly believed those words…

I remember the time when I used to drive myself to exhaustion with studies, simply in order to get a high score in an exam.

And it all seemed to make sense. But now I don’t want my son to study as hard as I used to at his age.

This might sound strange, but let me explain my point of view.

1. No one has ever asked me about my grades.

No employer ever asked me about my achievements at university!

No résumé I’ve ever had to complete contained a field entitled “Performance at University.“ However, all of them had one entitled “Work Experience.”

2. I’ve forgotten everything I learned at university.

My memory works in an exceptional way: I used to forget all the course material immediately after the exams. When I started my National Service, I realized that in all my years at university I hadn’t learned anything.

And, even though my grades indicated otherwise, my academic knowledge was a complete mess — scraps of information that I knew neither how nor where to apply.

As it turned out, years of exceptional university performance didn’t give me any advantages over “less-educated” people.

In the end, my first two months of hands-on work experience gave me more useful knowledge and helped me acquire more professional skills than the previous four years at university spent in pursuit of good grades. 

3. The pursuit of good grades harmed my health.

Some people can grab everything on the fly, but I’m not one of them. To make knowledge stay in my head, I had to learn the material by heart. In the run-up to an examination period, I used to revise for 12-15 hours a day. I still remember falling asleep during lessons and on public transport because of severe exhaustion.

Due to chronic fatigue, my productivity decreased and my mind grew unreceptive to new knowledge. My days passed as if in a fog.

Looking back, I feel surprised by my tenacity, perseverance, and patience; by how I used to force myself into doing stuff that made me positively sick with boredom. But I’m somehow certain that I won’t be able to repeat this “feat” again.

4. I didn’t have time for other people.

At university, I had plenty of opportunities for cultivating a personal network of useful acquaintances. But I was too busy revising.

Studies and thoughts about studying used to take up almost all of my time. There wasn’t enough left even for a private life and meeting up with buddies.

Perhaps the most valuable opportunity you get at university is making useful friends.

University is your springboard for forming fresh relationships, a proving ground for your abilities at socializing.

I’ve noticed a curious fact: all those people who used to lead gregarious lifestyles at university are now well to do. 

If I was given another chance, I would choose to devote less time to studies and more to student movements, activities, and parties. As for that all-important diploma? Without any regrets, I would trade it for the unofficial “University’s Most Sociable Person” title!

5. All the moneymaking skills I can boast of at present were acquired outside of university.

Effective learning is only possible when there is genuine interest. Unfortunately, modern education kills such interest by clogging your head with all sorts of theoretical information that will never prove useful in real life.

An hour of watching programs on the Discovery Channel gives me more information about thе world than I received during my 15 years of studies.

I’ve managed to learn English on my own in just 1.5 years after becoming genuinely interested in that language. And that’s following 13 years of unproductive “obligatory” English studies at school and university.

Preparing entries for my blog did more to help me learn to express my thoughts in writing than all my years at school put together.

This is the advice that I’ll give to my kids when they start school:

The difference between grades A and B is so blurred that it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the quality of your life. But achieving an A requires investing significantly larger amounts of your time and effort. Is the game really worth the candle?

It’s your skills that help you pay your bills, not your university grade sheet. Gain experience, not grades. The more experience you have in different areas, the more you’re worth!

A prestigious degree or diploma won’t give you a tangible advantage in life, but influential friends will. Pay more attention to making new acquaintances and communicating with people — this is the real key that’ll open all the doors of this world for you!

Stick to doing things that you personally find meaningful. Don’t try to live up to other people’s expectations. Only the presence of genuine interest can set you on course for great achievements…

Baba Osman…. 


6 thoughts on “My advice to my kids when they start school:

  1. Nice piece. Am no exception to this but I must say after my first year in the university I came to this *realization* and I sought to seek not only the grades but the understanding of the concepts am taught. Let me be quick to say this: studying to gain grades in itself isn’t entirely bad. The key is being able to balance every faculty of your life. Many people like myself failed in this regard. Even though I realized this aspect about our educational system after my first year, I wasn’t able to really live up to building my social life.

    I will also say that any venture you find yourself in, once there’s a standard or a price to be won attain the highest whiles not forgetting the little things that matter most.

    Baba nice piece. I like your grammar and construction.


  2. It a good piece but not entirely true.
    University education does not only give you knowledge for work but also shape your behaviour. You cannot tell me you still behave the way like when you were an SHS graduate or similar to your colleagues that could not further.
    The knowledge we acquire in the university may not directly come into play at work but you may have to convert it into something else before using.
    The assignments we may made to do, sometimes upto 120 pages in the university will always help you in any firm that demands report writing.
    Sometimes the lecturers stress us just to let us have a feel of the stressful environment of work.
    For me, I can humbly say that the university made an impart in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

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