Over the summer I had the chance to catch up with a colleague I worked with 8-10 years ago. We got talking about “the good old days” of our youth, which was a little strange because I’m still in college and many would consider my current state moderately youthful. I believe we both came to agreement that our high school days were some of the best days of our lives, or at least measurably better than those at college. If you had asked me the question 4 years ago, during the fall of my Senior year at SHHS, I might have said something like “Well, high school has been pretty good to me, but I’d like to think I can make college even better.” Alas, that statement was incorrect, I have not accomplished a quarter of what I had hoped to over these past 3.5 years at RPI.
I could probably write a small book reviewing my feelings with the institute I currently attend, but I’m doubtful my feelings are bound to this specific establishment. I think back to high school, and I probably could have succeeded in just about any other high school. Sure, I wouldn’t be the same person today without my daily exposure to a television studio, but I’m confident I could have supplemented that technical knowledge set with something equivalent… like the lighting control for the sage I always wanted to learn but never was permitted to.
One thing I didn’t mind about high school was my interactions with others. Sure, most people would classify me someone on the geeky/nerdier end of the spectrum, but that didn’t spot me from saying hi to people in the hallway, and almost as importantly, it didn’t stop people from saying hi to me too. Maybe people felt they had to be nice or I wouldn’t help them fix ______, but I’d rather think that people are inherently nice most of the time. I suspect that at RPI I have done a poor job of establishing the field in which I’m interested in interacting with others, and instead of trying to figure it out, most people opt to ignore me all together unless absolutely necessary. For example, I can send dozens of emails out looking for feedback, suggestions, or just a simple “Thank you” and can count on the same individuals to respond or acknowledge me, its not until I send “Hey, I’m about to throw out something of yours” that I get a timely and succinct response.
Freshmen year at college I spent most of my non-class time online in my room, during which point I was signed into AOL Instant Messenger. As the semester progressed, the unique senders of messages to me declined steadily to around 4. Since freshmen year I’ve opted to revive my MSN account, add my Facebook and MySpace chat account, and add my Google chat account bringing the total # of services I’m available online for an instant chat with to >5. The number of people who regularly message me on these services may have grown to 5 I think. Logically, I expect the number of people who regularly commutate with me online to have some direct correlation to the quantity of people who interact with me in real life and one would have thought that being around longer and interacting with more people might have increased that number.
I often wonder if my work-oriented approach to things serves as a detriment to me It makes sense to me: people attend college to graduate. Graduation requires good grades. Good grades require some quantity of working. Being work-oriented facilitates work… at least thats the hypothesis I’ve been working off of since the 6th grade. If everyone worked “better” in sweatpants and hoodies, we would probably see more people wearing them in professional settings. I’ve digressed a bit, but I may resume work on the automatic chat bot I worked on circa 2005. While it never carried out the most intelligent conversations with me, it knew enough to ask about the weather from time to time.
Like I said earlier, I wasn’t one of the popular kids in the school, but there were my areas of expertise that I was given near-free reign in to work as I pleased. I miss that component these days. The only free reign I have now is what I can squeeze in during my downtime, which is sparse to come by. Don’t think I am opposed or disinterested in the other tasks I am doing, I could just use a clone (actually, another interested person would probably less confusing to all) to help me do them faster. If the red tape I have to cut through was your typical paperwork or hierarchical problems I would have no problem pressing forward, but the red tape holding be back right now comes from within.
Also on my list of misconceptions was the notion that college would at least make me desirable employee, if not a desirable “well-rounded” person. I can safely say that my 3.5 years to date at RPI have generated minimal leads that could help me after I graduate. I have not been taught a unique skill set, and I suspect peers from other schools may have taken classes that have taught them actually useful skills. While my outside-of-the-classroom projects may help set me apart from others, much of their scope is limited to RPI; its not like I could write myself a recommendation or reference letter about the work I did on Concerto or something weird like that.
If my second to last undergraduate semester is any predictor of the future, I am in store for much of the same in the spring semester. I guess I’ll have to get work on that chat bot, maybe I’ll train it to help write some code too.