The decade is changing, are you?

The present education system in India was introduced by the British in the 20th century. It served as a replacement for the traditional Indian ‘gurukul’ or ‘madrassa’. The purpose of introducing western education was originally to train clerks; fast forward 100 years and the principles of our education are still fundamentally the same! Majority of our education is geared towards acquiring the skills a clerk would need: rote learning and memorization.

Don’t be so quick to knock the system though. We’re talking about the same system that created Sundar Pichai and Indra Nooyi. What did they do differently? How did some of the most innovative and influential people in the world sprout from an education system that is notorious for stifling curiosity and promoting rote learning?

We have a theory.

The answer lies in what they did BEYOND just their education.

We’re talking about extracurriculars, hobbies, projects and initiative beyond formal education and textbook learning.

Sundar Pichai was captain of his school cricket team. One can argue that the lessons in leadership learnt on the pitch helped him build a career in technology. Personally, I am a big proponent for sports education. Early exposure to competitive sports has taught me to trust my team, set goals for myself and to accept failure as an inevitable part of success.

Indra Nooyi was a rebel since much before she became a force in re-shaping PepsiCo’s global influence. In an era where it was considered socially unacceptable for women to be in sports, she participated in an all girls’ cricket team. She even played guitar in an all-female rock band during college! Her career path organically followed an unconventional trajectory because of her out-of-the box extra-curricular experiences.

We researched countless such CEO’s and innovators. What we discovered is a pattern: most successful people invest considerable chunks of time in out-of-classroom activities. We believe that these interests; sports, music, art, literature, side hustles and other miscellaneous projects; are what shapes us much more than our formal education.

Let’s take a step back and look at an example from my own life. A friend of mine took 6 years to finish his engineering degree. The reason for this was because he devoted a considerable amount of time pursuing his love for hacking, coding and debugging. When he eventually finished his degree, he had already created a stable revenue stream for himself by debugging for various companies. Meanwhile, the topper of the engineering college was working an entry-level job post graduation.

In no way are we disqualifying the importance of formal education. All we’re saying is that formal education alone is not enough. With the turn of the decade, we hope that there comes a revolution in education. We need to stop viewing extracurriculars as merely a supplement and start looking at it as a crucial element of our education.

Here’s our list of 10 things you can do while you’re in college to ensure that you are getting the most out of your crucial educative years:

  • A side hustle – Find a restaurant to wait tables at or a part time side job/internship that you can pursue whilst you’re in college. This will help broaden your skill set and give you a taste of the real world before you graduate.
  • A coding class – Coding is not just for software developers. It is a very marketable skill to have for any industry in the upcoming decade. You can learn how to code online FOR FREE on your own schedule; there’s plenty of websites and classes available to get you started.
  • A competitive sport – Too many people lose touch with a sport they love in college. If your college does not offer sports, try to reach out to your sport’s community via Facebook or Instagram. Keep pursuing your sport as a student because it will teach you life skills like time management, leadership and resilience.
  • A foreign language  – Knowing an extra language or two can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Translating and interpreting on a part time basis is a great way to make some $$ while you’re still a student.
  • Freelance – If you can model, paint, write, build websites, use photoshop or debug code, use your skills to make some revenue. Seek out clients using social media and your immediate friends+family circle. Virtually any skills can be translated into revenue with the right social media marketing!
  • Start a business – Student entrepreneurship is becoming a trend all over the world and rightly so! It teaches you a variety of different skills and helps you build a solid body of work for future employers to check out. If you have an idea, college is your safe space to turn it into action.
  • Make small investments – There’s no right age to start learning how banking, the stock market and taxes work. Trust me, college will do very little to educate you about these things. The responsibility of learning how to manage your money lies on you. Starting to make small investments and taking time to learn about the economy while you’re in college will help you immensely in the long run.
  • Volunteer – Volunteer for a cause you care about. It can be an old age home, an animal shelter or an NGO! The point is to use your free time to make a positive impact on your community while meeting like-minded people. I was able to get my first job out of college through a connection I made while volunteering as a college student. Every bridge you build and person you meet is part of your network; take effort to build a strong network of professionals while you’re in college.
  • Travel – This is a tricky one. I understand that traveling may not be a top priority for a student budget. The important thing about traveling is exposing yourself to new ideas, cultures and people. Who says you need to make an intercontinental trip to do that? You can even make local low budget trips to different areas and neighbourhoods of your own city. Backpacking and living in hostels is another way to travel and experience the authenticity of a new place.
  • Learn how to cook – Too many of my peers survive on Maggi and Kurkure. Just like any other skill, cooking takes time and effort to get good at. There’s TONS of healthy, quick, yummy, low budget ways to make your meals fun. Make sure to develop this skill while you’re still a student and it will benefit you for life. Remember, food not only physically feeds your body but it also feeds your soul. Eating well will make you energized, productive and happy!

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