Monday, September 15, 2008

My Winning Piece in a Speech Contest

Simple Steps
(How to become successful in your academic career)

It’s 3 am. My head is getting dizzy. My hand is shaking and I’m getting nervous. The exams are 5 hours away and I know I’m not prepared. Dawn comes, a rooster cocks and the city springs to life. I dash to my classroom to take that dreaded exam. Faced with a blank paper, I keep telling myself, ‘I know the answers… but why can’t I remember them.’ I didn’t sleep the entire night for this and still I can’t recall the right answers. Then someone suddenly stands, confidently hands in his paper and peacefully walks out of the room. That was the smartest in the class. In the middle of my struggle I wondered how he could be that smart.

Today, allow me to discuss how to become successful in one’s academic career. I will start by pointing out that success is determined not so much by fate, but by the right attitude. Then I will move on to three essential things which constitute this attitude namely- wise use of time, discipline, and humility.

For some, academic career is no career at all. Academics is nothing but part of a stage where a student should pass and forget after going through it. No wonder success becomes as fictitious concept as talking tigers in Korean mythology. Thus, many a student would pride himself with average to passing grades when he can have more. Well becoming successful in one's academic career need not be too complicated nor should it require an IQ on par with Einstein's or Aristotle’s. Becoming successful is a matter of having the right attitude.

Furthermore, let me give three things which I think comprise a right attitude- wise use of time, discipline, and humility.

First, we all know how important time is. Messing with time puts a student through all the hassles imaginable. But handling time carefully and using it as an ally rather than a foe gives the student that much chance to become successful. Punctuality in attending class, submitting requirements on time and meeting deadlines create bliss. Planning ahead for examinations also helps so as to avoid the infamous cramming most soju-lover students adhere to. At the end, the student will be surprised how easy it is to top in his classes and yet have sufficient time for leisure.

Next, discipline. Discipline is another factor that spells out the difference. Isn’t it a wonder how Egyptians built their pyramids, how Plato wrote the Republic, or how Edmund Hillary reached Mt. Everest’s summit? These men all lived in different times but have one thing in common- Discipline. Academic career may or may not be as tough as building pyramids but for sure, there will be times when quitting becomes a tempting path. Discipline to read assigned books little by little until reaching the end; Discipline to memorize lines during free time; And discipline to stay awake at night until scheduled tasks are done give a student easier retention of facts.

Finally, humility. We must admit that we are not genius. Some may be but I bet most of us are average. However, being average does not mean being mediocre. If we admit our inadequacy then we can fill that up. That is to say that, as students we should learn from our professors, classmates, friends, family and all the people around us. If a professor points a mistake, do not be disheartened. Instead feel fortunate because you realize where you should focus more. By doing so, success becomes easier to achieve.

Today I have presented to you the simple steps of becoming successful in one’s academic career. Again, it is the presence of the right attitude that opens doors to success. The wise use of time, discipline and humility are three essential things which define a right attitude. Having all these can amazingly change all things. Only then would I no longer have to stay awake at 3 am knowing that come my exams’ day, I can be that boy who suddenly stood from his chair, confidently handed in his paper and peacefully walked out of that room.

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