The Myth behind Ivy Leagues, and how you can be successful without them.

You won’t believe the number of times I’ve asked a person about his/her dream college or university, and the other person would say “Harvard” or “Yale”.

When asked why, they would simply shrug and say something like:

“Dude c’mon, it’s HARVARD” or “Yale is prestigious”.

After hearing these answers, I usually just smile back and nod, but deep inside I’m face-palming with both hands.

You see, our society has a big problem these days. No matter what aspect of our lives, everyone is obsessed with brands. From cars to the types of shoes you wear, people are becoming more and more influenced by brands, myself included.

Some people are taking simple $14 headphones, and selling ’em off for $700 just because of a freaking brand name!

And these people are making billions. Sometimes I wonder if this is why aliens won’t visit us…

Unfortunately, this fixation with brands migrated to the college scene, with more and more international students only aiming for the Ivies and how anything less than Harvard is completely unacceptable.

Students need to remember that society shouldn’t influence their decisions. You need to make their own decision, regardless of what other people think because it’s not their life, it’s yours. Period.

One popular misconception is that people think that an Ivy League school will magically give them a shortcut to success and open doors for them. The truth is, that success is not contingent on the college one goes to, but the type of person you are.

Then why do Ivy League Graduates earn more than the average graduate?

Great question. You see, it’s not these institutes that make students hard working. The kids who are accepted into these colleges and universities are already hardworking, passionate, and committed.

That is one of the main reasons they are admitted.

Admissions officers realize that no college or course can change the type of person a student is, until he/she wants to change for themselves.

So they make a safe bet and get students who have already shown strong personalities and hard work and commitment through their academics, ECs, sports, or even through their personal story.

Here’s a quick note/excerpt from my book that fits here perfectly:

Start of Excerpt

Quick Note

A lot of people have the misconception that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to go to an Ivy League school if you want to be successful. This is simply not true.

Success is contingent on a number of factors, but the most important is hard work. It might sound really cliché, but there is no substitute for hard work.

The reason a lot of Ivy League graduates do well is that hard work and commitment is second nature to them before they even attend theirfirst class in their respective universities.

Once they start studying alongside equally hard working minds in these institutes, it only leads to a thicker shell and more hard work, resulting in inevitable success.

This is the reason that the Ivy League graduates do well. It’s not the institute, but the people and their focused minds that lead them to success.

Real-life example

Just look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. They both attended Harvard and they both dropped out.

Why?

Because they had constantly worked hard their whole lives, and once a revolutionary idea strikes someone who works unimaginably hard, success follows.

They both made a call that a university degree from an Ivy League University is less valuable than the ideas and projects they had in mind.

They had to choose, and they DIDN’T choose a Harvard degree.

Today one is worth US $76 billion and the other US $51.2 billion, so can anyone say they made the wrong call?

They had talent, backed it up with hard work, and success came like a moth to a flame.

End of Excerpt

The Prison debate team that beat Harvard’s debate team!

Yes, you read that right.

On the off chance you didn’t hear about this last year, this is a perfect example of what I’ve been talking about in the excerpt from my book.

A prison debate team had limited resources, took hours to research what we could easily find on google, and had limited access to typing and printing accessories.

Yet, against all odds, they beat the “best” debating team in the country.

The message echoed by these individuals is how one’s commitment to learning and exploration matters. Commitment is the key ingredientto success in life regardless where you are – Harvard or Prison.

Back to Ivies, the emotional and mental cost.

Another point I’d like to make is that sometimes it can get a little too competitive for the average Ivy League student and a person might burn out, or worse.

There’s a great article by The New York Times on suicide on Campus and the pressure of perfection, highlighting how much psychological pressure is put on students in these top universities.

I knew a girl from Iran who got into an Ivy League school as an international applicant, and she definitely corroborated these type of claims.

She talked about how the workload was overwhelming and how most kids were so relentless in their pursuit for perfection, that a simple B on a test could take them on a negative spiral towards depression. While some dealt with it correctly by seeking help and therapy, others lost their way completely…

In short, Ivy League universities are great but there are plenty of other GREAT universities and colleges out there.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that Ivy League universities have more recognized professors in different fields and that their networking hubs are much stronger than other universities, but that is just one end of the spectrum. There is a lot more to Ivy Leagues than meets the eye, and this piece just scratches the surface.

What I’m trying to say is that don’t be fixated on these colleges. They’re great if you get in, but you can be successful without them.

After all, even if you end up going to a college ranked #100 in the USA, you’re college is still better than 97.5% of the 4,100+ colleges in the country!

Check out my site for more related stuff!
And my book

The “Oily” economic mess – What happened? (Broken down in 650 words)

“The price has gone down AGAIN?”
“What in the WORLD is happening to oil?”
“I’m really intrigued but can’t be bothered to sit down and watch an hour’s worth of current affairs”

Do any of the above sound like you?

If so, then fear not inquisitive warrior, for I shall explain this economic crisis in the most concise and simplest of terms. After the next 15 minutes (or less, depending on your reading speed), I hope you’ll have a better understanding of what on earth happened to the price of oil.

  • Iran Sanctions

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the better part of 2015, you’d know that Iran’s sanctions have been lifted.

“Okay, so what Sully?”

Well, Iran is home to the second largest oil reserve in the Middle East (Fourth largest in the world). This means that there are now 3 million extra barrels of oil per day in the market, forecasted to possibly grow to almost 4 million barrels per day by January 2017.

  • Shale Oil

It’s pretty well known by now that the US has a significant interest in the oil market, and it has maintained this interest for the last couple of decades or so, as shown by various shale oil companies emerging and starting to produce “Shale Oil”(A substitute for crude oil extracted from sedimentary rocks)

If you know a little bit of economics, you’ll know that if the price of a substitute good for a product goes down, the price of that particular product goes down as well.

For example, let’s say hypothetically, if you have Car A which is very unique, very important, and has little to no mainstream substitutes. It sells for a high price for a very long time.
Then, along comes Car B with the exact same features, but only cheaper. Logically, all the consumers flock to Car B as it does the exact same job for a lower price.

Car A is Crude oil in this scenario, while Car B is representative of Shale Oil. (Both are known as substitute goods)

Now, if you know even a bit of Econ 101, you’ll know that if the price of a good goes down, the price of its substitute also inevitably goes down, as the latter starts losing sales to its now lower priced substitute.

This is exactly what has happened with Crude Oil. As Shale came in with a cheaper substitute for Crude Oil, the world’s largest Oil consumer, the United States, recorded trends of people switching from traditional crude oil to home-grown shale oil. This inevitably led to a fall in the price of crude oil.

  • Little to no increase in demand

With Shale Oil and Iran’s Crude oil entering the market, the demand of the oil market is still, more or less, the same. People aren’t suddenly demanding millions and millions of extra oil barrels in their daily lives. That type of change would take years, perhaps even decades. So, once again, basic economics tells us that when supply increases in a market with stagnating demand, the price plummets. (Displayed below)

S-increase

Even China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, is curbing its demand of oil as it predicts it’s economic growth to start diminishing. Moreover, tighter restrictions by the Chinese government on oil consumption will further reduce oil demand, as the government looks to reducing the infamously bad air pollution of China.

My two cents

There are still a million barrels of oil being produced in excess per day, and the number is forecasted to further increase this year. It seems if the current trend continues, the oil market will drown in oversupply and we could see the price falling to $20 or less.

However, a lot of countries depend on oil for their economies, so I am certain that the governments economists will contrive a policy to alter this plummeting price.

And there you have it, you now know more than before about why the oil price acted like it did. And if you already knew all of this, pat yourself on the back for me!

 

 

The Fallen – Lest we Forget

7th January 2014

Hangu District, Pakistan

A 17 year old had just been reprimanded for tardiness and denied entry to class. As Aitzaz Hasan waited outside his school with a couple of other tardy kids, he saw a strange man approaching them. The man asked, in an unfamiliar dialect, about the location of the local school.

There are different accounts about what happened next.

Some say Aitzaz approached the stranger cautiously, and upon seeing a detonator in his heavyset jacket, quickly alerted his peers to run and inform authorities. Others say the man got spooked and tried to make a run for the school before Aitzaz even got to him

But all accounts agree on what happened next.

Aitzaz ran after the Suicide Bomber, fearlessly taking him down. The struggle resulted in an explosion engulfing both of them, and Aitzaz sacrificed his own life in the process.

He selflessly traded his own life for the lives of thousands. Not a single innocent soul harmed except his own.

Later on,  during an interview, his father emotionally says,

“My son made his mother cry but saved thousands of mothers from crying for their children.”

Truer words have never been spoken. Not only did he save thousands of lives directly, he saved the thousands of family members who would have been mentally obliterated had their child or sibling died that day.

The epitome of a real life hero: Aitzaz Hasan

He deservedly received the “Sitara-e-Shujaat” (Star of Bravery), the highest honor a civilian can receive. As the Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif said, “ He is a national hero, who has sacrificed his today for our tomorrow.”

He ignited a bright fire within the nation, a flame that said the country would not back down against these extremists who seem hell bent on targeting and killing more Muslims than any other group

The reason I write this is to remind us all about the past and how we cannot allow it to be forgotten. After all, if the past is forgotten, it inevitably ends up repeating itself. We self-centered people are not deserving of a gallant soul like Aitzaz. But we can correct ourselves. We need to ensure that Pakistan does not need another Aitzaz to extinguish would-be disasters. We need to learn, and learn quickly for time is a great teacher but it will eventually kill all its students.

aitzaz

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life.”

Sorry Sir, Kinder eggs are illegal. But here, have a Gun.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Well like it or not, it’s true. Granted you’re not likely to find chocolate and ammunition in the same store, but I’m sure you get the gist of where I’m coming from.

Safety Concern

Look:

I understand there is an urge in people to buy guns for protection. But I think looking at this video will definitely alter your perspective if you come from a pro-guns school of thought.

Currently, approximately 320 million people reside in the US. 66.2% are within the age group of 15-64.  Theoretically, that’s about 212 million people given legal access to firearms (within 3 years for those under 18). I think it’s a logical assumption that not all 212,000,000 will have the right mental approach needed while handling these potential life-enders.

The UK

There is a rational reasoning behind the fact that guns are outlawed in the United Kingdom. Even law enforcement is not issued firearms.
If we look back at the States, One could logically assume that there is a positive correlation between the easiness with which one can acquire firearms and the highest crime rate in the world. Additionally, laws aren’t exactly making it harder for gun owners. In fact, they’re doing anything but that.

Every now and then we hear of a kid who shot up his peers in his school or University. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s purely because of open access and exposure to arms. Negligence and improper definitely plays a big part But If access to guns was restricted to law enforcement and Military, would we not save more lives in the process?

READ: Five States allow students to carry concealed guns on college campuses.

Now:

Hypothetically speaking, lets say you’ve had a little too much to drink and have a fully loaded 9mm in your bag for “protection”. You might disagree, but I feel that is a recipe brewing for disaster.
In Missouri, it is no longer a crime to USE a gun while intoxicated, as long as it is in self-defense. Some of you may think that’s fine but Pardon me when I say I’m going to absolutely question the judgement of a man/woman who can’t even walk in a straight line.

On the other hand, Why are Kinder Eggs illegal?

According to the constitution of the United States, Any type of edible that has a toy (or item) inside which is not visible, is banned.

Though I think we can all agree, it is perfectly safe for children over three to eat a kinder egg. Even if a parent illogically gives it to a minor under 3, the Capsule is too big to be swallowed and really difficult to open for a toddler.

The kinder egg caused 3 fatalities in about 40 years. Guns on the other hand? I don’t think you need to be schooled on that.

Overlooked – The Artist of Life

I arrived in Islamabad a few days ago and decided to meet up with my sister, who also happened to be in the city at the time. Since the reason of my visit was a familial emergency, I didn’t have a lot of spare time but she arranged for a car to collect me from my aunts place. Making small talk during the trip with the driver, I started learning about him and was moved by a lot of things he said.

A few days later, I decided that I would get the full picture and contacted him. Equipped with a voice recorder and genuine curiosity, I set out on the endeavor of publicizing his journey through life. This is a summary of what he told me on the first day and during the dialogue less the questions I asked. Hopefully I do justice to his account.

“Originally, I come from the North, growing up in a small village near Peshawar. Without a doubt, My mother was the most important woman in my life growing up teaching me about some very important facets of life, from the basic distinction between right and wrong to intricate Calligraphy. Unfortunately, due to certain circumstances, I couldn’t really focus on my higher education and so took a vow to make sure my children didn’t head down the same path. My brothers and I used to live together but they weren’t the most supportive in a lot of aspects and it was becoming a tight squeeze as more of us got married, so in the early years of matrimony, my wife and I decided to move onto greener pastures in the form of Islamabad. There we started sending the kids to school and started adapting to a new, faster life.

Naturally, the transition wasn’t easy. I knew quite well early on in my marriage that I would have to choose between the education of my children and a comfortable lifestyle. I chose the former and knew I had made the right choice as the value of knowledge became abundantly clear to me. There was simply no substitute for an educated man or woman.

So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when my Eldest son completed his undergraduate and knew my investment had bore ripe fruit when he went on to do his MBA. He is now a Project Manager in a well established NGO. My second child topped her batch in the “International Islamic University ” and my third one is almost finishing school, currently in Matriculation. I take great joy in the fact that all three were able to attain what I could not.

Of course nothing in life is possible without the core ingredient of hard work.

You won’t believe me when I tell you about the number of jobs I’ve had to go through. Initially, I worked as a Chef for a Colonel who hired me for about 8 years. My family had all their basic needs met and you could say we were financially secure in a way. Once he moved away, making me redundant, I had to pick up a number of odd jobs to get by.
I designed boards for shops in Arabic & Urdu due to my calligraphic aptitude and even wrote a couple of Pashto drama scripts. However, these jobs didn’t pay as well. We were barely getting by. Eventually, I had to settle for becoming a driver for an NGO and worked for them for a quite a while. But I never stopped tending to my creative side. I used to like sketching and painting, and decided to pursue it more seriously (on the side). Now, whenever I’ve accumulated a few pieces, I set them up on the roadside for display and if the right person passes by, I make a few extra bucks.”

PS. It would be unfair of me to not give credit to Brandon (HONY). His work has inspired me and several others to take a deeper interest in people around us.