Confessions from cutthroat academia

I was reading an article earlier about cutthroat students in law school. Apparently there are crazy people out there who would do anything to get the top grade in the class, including but not limited to:

  1. “Accidentally” ripping out pages of a required textbook in the library.
  2. Refusing to lend notes.
  3. Giving out misinformation.
  4. Purposely hogging up the professor’s office hours.

I was pretty surprised about #3. I mean, who does that? Sooner or later, the person whom you purposely gave false information to will figure it out, and there goes your reputation/trust/friendship. Unless that was your goal anyway, in which case, keep it up, Iago!

But on a more serious note, I’ve had experience with these cutthroat-type environments. Right now, in fact.

Welcome to my college.

In the second week of classes my freshman year, I asked three upperclassmen if I could borrow their notes for a previous lecture I missed. The answers ranged from, “Sorry, I don’t take notes,” to “I don’t have my notebook with me.” Um, okay, give me a break.

I’ve also encountered several cases when the library’s copy of a course textbook goes “missing.” Hmm.

Let’s not forget the times I needed my friend to proofread my essay’s introduction (one single paragraph, literally 1/3 of a page), but she was conveniently too busy. But not too busy for updating her Facebook status and uploading photos, by the way.

But like every basket of apples, there are the few rotten ones and the perfectly good ones. (Unless you just have a basket of bad apples, in which case, you should probably go choose another basket.) Although I’ve met my share of cutthroat, lazy, competitive students, I’ve also met plenty of friendly students who are willing to help out their fellow classmates.  I’m thankful for the classmate who shared her textbook with me for a semester, for the friend who photocopied her notes for me that time I was sick, and the seniors who took the time to help edit my philosophy and history essays.

Yeah, being in a cutthroat environment has helped me learn to fend for myself. I’ve learned not to rely too much on others. But it’s also made me more sympathetic towards people, because I can now easily imagine myself in their situation. Missed a lecture due to illness and need notes? Been there. Need someone to proofread a haphazard paper? Done that.

Now, I gladly share notes or explain concepts from class with people. Who says you need to make everyone else fail to become great? I mean, if you have to claw your way to the top and step on everyone else along the way, no offense, but you’re pretty pathetic. Seriously. Have fun getting to the top by yourself.

Throughout life, we’ll always face situations where ultra-competitive people try to put us down. Don’t retaliate by becoming one of them.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.








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