Sunday, January 27, 2013

Make a fair comparison

A conversation with a friend in Swaraj University. She has taken the
huge step of not continuing after 12th to any degree course, and instead
joined Swaraj Uni. There are genuine worries about the future and
whether she will be able to be on par with formal qualification holders
in the fields she aspires to work in.

So I have this to say: If you want to compare yourself with someone
who's done engineering or arts or commerce, then fine. But then please
take into account these factors:
First, in your comparison, do not take yourself as you are right now.
Rather, consider what your skill levels will be 3 or 4 years down the
line. Look at how much you've grown as an individual in these few months
just since your 12th exams ended, and now extrapolate it. Because you
should compare yourself with your ex-classmates who will graduate 3/4
years from now, not with people who have already graduated.

Next, estimate the total financial expenditure that your average
college-going comparison subject is going to do till the time she/he
graduates, which you will not be doing.
This includes the course fees,
the extra tuitions (lol!), all the expenditure on books, stationary,
xeroxes and printouts, the daily commuting expenses, health expenditure
(given the pressure in degree courses, it will make a considerable
component).. and don't forget to include all the leisure, movies, eating
out, lifestyle and vacation expenses that you would have to do to cope
with the degree course and to fit in with the college-going crowd, and
which, since joining Swaraj, you've practically nullified.
Total ALL of that into account.

Now, to make the comparison fair, make all that amount of funds
available to you, at your disposal right now itself, so that over the
next 3/4 years you can use this if you have to start a business or make
some capital investments towards your career.

So, after you've given yourself all this TIME as well as all this MONEY
(and it's a lot), and knowing that all this time is completely yours,
that there won't be any submissions, exams, deadlines that will occupy
your time, knowing that for all this time you will not be doing anything
which is against your will or which will not contribute to your further
life (like so many subjects in my 4-yr course were!),...

THEN let's compare and see where you would stand in comparison with your
friends who are pursuing college.

And AFTER their graduation is over, let's take a status check. Their
level will be minus all the expenditure they've done. You will have
plenty left over, and possibly even more if you've used these years to
earn. I'm deliberately avoiding the term "money" because there might be
earnings in other parameters, like material comforts, social
connections, emotional well-being, romance (this IS the time of your
life for that after all! ask any 17-22 yr old what would they rather be
staying up late for: exam preparation, writing for submission, or making
love?), ...

...travel experience, general knowledge, understanding of the world and
in-depth opinions about it, possession of skills that will be of use
moving forward (degree holders typically need to be trained for their
first jobs on joining anyways, which wouldn't be necessary if they
already had picked up those skills during their college days). So the
people you have to be compared with, will be in dire need of doing a
job, any job, that can repay them what they've invested so far. And that
in monetary terms only; in the many other parameters there is no telling
how they'll catch up; it could take years and it might never happen at
all. The jobs they will have to take will probably be in compromise with
what they really want to do. They may even have to change location to a
new place, and start their social life from scratch.

You, on the other hand, will proceed as you were, will probably be doing
whatever it is you wanted to do and will be already good at it. Your
absolute salary level may not be the same as their packages, but
remember that whatever you are getting is in addition, whereas they have
a huge negative to make up for.

Yes, I know I'm leaving out a lot here. But the rest of the mainstream
is there to fill you in on that. I am only doing my part: bringing to
light here the other side of the balance, which others will overlook to
the point of making it invisible if you keep paying them too much
attention. So do not make an unbalanced calculation of yourself; factor
in all these things as well; make a fair comparison.

If you can grasp this, then you will get an idea of the loss of
potential that I am feeling, having been through 4 years of college and
then 2.5 years of job. These years of our life, were made for much, much
more than what the mainstream will have us believe, and we're never
getting them back. Sometimes, we need to look at someone who has lost
what we have got so we can appreciate it better.

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