How to be an A Grade Student in B Grade University.
Note – Inspiration behind this post, is completely based on my true story.
This topic will be useful to every student (US or India). But, I give examples of situations that you will meet while attending graduate school in US.
- Fact 1: If you are not attending Top Ranked Universities, then consider yourself in B Grade School.
- Fact 2: Not attending A Grade university doesn’t mean you cannot be an A Grade student.
There will be a drastic difference is same course offering between A and B Grade schools.
To understand, what I’m talking about referring to the assignment (Word Game) given to students for Introduction to Computer Science Programming.
Level of difficulty in courses in Graduate School in the USA is high.
You would have to take the courses to really understand what I’m talking about.
Introduction courses are “B grade” is not as tough as the above example. What can you do to be an A grade student from a B grade university?
B Grade to A Grade
Lets Now, its time to evaluate your current skill and overall feeling about your potential.
Example – let’s assume you are in a class and your friends say “That person in front row, is top-notch, his GPA of 4,0 from all tough courses”.
What do you feel about that person next time?
- That person is top student, but I’m not smaller than him
- Damn! he must be born genius, I’m going to respect him and I can’t reach up to him.
Do you understand what I try to convey here? Do you get that inferiority complex and lower yourself?
I had such feeling, when I used look at those who score way above in test.
My Grad School
Let me say this (true story about myself)
I’m not a great programmer (in Undergrad and even during Masters). I took an Operation Systems class and it has 3 projects each 20% of final grade.
Here I’m in Masters, taking a required core course that has 60% weight for programming projects. That was in my 3rd semester. After 6 Courses, my GPA was 4.0 and I was under pressure to get 4.0 in all 3 courses, but I knew it will be tough with OS course.
- I have set a negative tone and expectations for the course.
First programming assignment was due in 14 days. I had to learn a new language (VB.Net) and implement the project. Typically programming assignment problem (as you can see in above link) will be 4 to 5 pages long. Just like a mini software requirements document.
I started working on the project on day 1. I hated the course and not so keen on learning new programming language in 14 days to implement new project.
10 days went by and I had completed 15% of the work.
Assignment was due on a Sunday 11:59 PM.
It was Sunday 4 PM and I was about 30% complete and long way to go.
My roommate, he writes code like taking part in typing competition. Very efficient and powerful programmer. He was on the couch, I was asking him about design and implementation questions (basic questions).
At one point he lost his patience and said “Go get your undergraduate programming book, learn how to code, then you can think about completing this project.”
It got upset with his comment, but what he said was very true, I’m not a good programmer and haven’t raised myself the expectations of US Grad School. I couldn’t type or think any more, closed the project and went to bed.
Life Changing Experience
After 30 minutes, my roommate came to me ans asked me to go out for a walk with him. He felt sad for his comment, apologized for his comment.
That’s one of my turning points in my life.
He said how his dad advised him “How can you forget what you learn, if you forget then you have to change the way you learn. Study to understand the concept, not for the sake of memorizing”.
He asked me to struggle and code this project on my own. He’s not going to help me. Thats the only way I’m going to learn.
I came back home, worked till 10 PM and completed 40% of the project. Missed the deadline and didn’t submit the code.
Every day project is submitted late, 10% will be cut. So, Instead of 100, max I can score is 90.
Went to class next day, came back home around 3 PM. I was determined to complete the project that night before 11:59
I started coding from scratch, ditched the code I worked for 14 days.
Started at 3PM and completed the entire project at 11 PM. Missed few features, but core of the project was done. Felt exhausted, submitted the project around 11:30 PM, scored around 80.
After that project, next 2 projects was bit easy (2 new programming language) and finally scored B grade in Operation System course.
When I got the Grades “B” at end of the semester, I was determined to do one thing.
“Next semester, I’m going to take one 100% programming course with new language and get A Grade”
So, I registered to take System Programming in Unix. Course had 8 programming projects and no exams. Guess what, I scored 790 out of 800.
B Grade to A Grade
The promise I made and goal I set to be an “A Grade” student after advise my friend gave me, changed my life for good.
Job, life and this blog, I have today is result of that one course, one determination and one friend.
So, if you set your mind to increase your standard, then you got to give everything you got in you.
It’s not easy, but determination with hard work will take you there. So, don’t worry if you are not studying in top ranked university.
Admission to university today is based on your past academic accomplishment. What you can achieve tomorrow, depends on your today’s effort.
So, join the best possible university you can based on your admission, then raise your standard, outlook towards life and skill level from there. This is my story, I would like to hear such a story from you one day.