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Born to win: College is not a zero-sum game

By Kendall GibsonSpecial to the Chronicle

The term “higher education,” which is a brilliant pun used to describe college, implies that upon entering a university, you have a solid base of previous learning. But for some people, there lays a huge crack in their foundation – one caused by the lack of a rudimentary social element: respect for others.

How is it that people have made it to college without a grasp of what it means to function as a member of society, and how is it that they have developed no compassion whatsoever for other people?

Here is what the problem boils down to: you were bred to compete. Your parents pushed you with sports, they demanded higher grades, and they pursued their childhood dreams vicariously through you in direct competition with other parents. Then once you reached high school, you became part of an institution built on even more competition and standings.

College, however, is completely and utterly different, and biting at the necks of your peers is frowned upon. Whereas in high school there is a clear social pyramid, the social structure of college is a web. With no social peak to strive for, why do you still compete?

The most cutthroat source of competition I have seen is internships by way of extracurricular leadership positions. Clubs with no need for leadership roles end up with twenty, and fierce competition exists for each. Why do you think club presidents put up with all the paperwork and extra stress? It isn’t because they’re passionate about the club; it’s because they want to pad their resume.

The whole point of an internship or leadership position is that it is a learning process, much like any of your classes. Don’t treat them like trinkets that serve only as decoration on your resume. They are invaluable experiences, and it is a shame that they are gobbled up by those who know only how to make themselves look good on paper.

The same goes for class registration. Have you ever played that game with four handles and a big light in the center, and the last person to press their button gets zapped? Registration is treated like that. Trust me: you’re not going to get hurt if you don’t pick classes three milliseconds after the portal opens.

Your favorite classes will probably be ones that you didn’t expect to like anyway, so don’t worry about choosing the perfect ones. And don’t be anal about ratemyprofessors.com, because taste in professors is subjective. Besides, the professors who rise to the top are ubiquitously described as easy graders. Is the only value in a professor his or her propensity to give you a higher grade? You should push yourself to perform better, not game your schedule to raise your GPA.

We even compete over drinking, of all things. Why would you ever strive to poison yourself quickly and more efficiently than others? Because you’ve been raised to win, that’s why. The mood of certain parties is that if you don’t reach the seventh level of drunkenness with the others, you lose. However, nobody likes the final stage of drunkenness. It’s a scary place, and that contest is not one worth winning.

Look around campus. We are all scared, depressed, sad little creatures living out our formative years in these honeycomb dorms, and it is imperative for every member of our community to respect that.

Nobody is holding your hand at college, and nobody is pushing you to win. We have been unbridled, set free from the dogma of high school. So better yourself everyday, discover what it means to be you, and be kind to your fellow students. If you don’t, you lose.

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