Hacking School

As a first-generation college student, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect after high school. At the time, my friends were working hard to get into “ivy league colleges.” Not knowing why it mattered, I attempted to do the same.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut.

It was a combination of not knowing application requirements, fear of having to pay a lot, and a lack of self-confidence. In hindsight, doing well academically is highly correlated to one’s socioeconomic background.

In my case, my parents hadn’t gone to college. Before immigrating to the US, they were farmers in India. Coming to the US was their chance to afford my sisters and I a chance at the American dream.

It’s important to note, my background isn’t an excuse for why I didn’t get into an Ivy League school. There are plenty of people who’ve made it despite coming from a similar background.

Once I went through the school system, I learned about all the hacks and used them to my sisters’ advantage.

It starts in elementary school. There are tests students can take to skip entire grades. Although, I missed the memo about this I made sure my sisters took honors classes in middle school.

Once they got to high school, they were a year ahead of their peers due to the honors classes. This decision allowed them to take more AP classes which will help them get ahead in college. They’re currently on track to graduate HS with 40+ AP credits.

I went into college with 25 AP credits which seemed like a lot to me until I met some friends who had 40+. In fact, some of my friends had managed to finish the HS curriculum a year early and started to take classes at their local community colleges.

Now let’s put this into perspective, a college degree is typically 120 credits. With 46 credits my friend was a year and a half ahead of the rest of his class based on avg. credits taken by a student per year.

This head start allowed him to place out of the difficult general ed. classes designed to “weed-out” students. Additionally, he was able to take significantly fewer classes each semester because he had no pressure to graduate. Fewer classes meant he could focus more on the ones he did have leading to a higher GPA.

All systems have hacks, including the school system. Today, any time I find myself in a system I ask myself, “how do I skip unnecessary steps?”

Most people believe they need to do X before they do Y. I believe Y is attainable without X through a path less taken.

For example, most people suggest one should get experience before starting a business. However, no one ever talks about what experience is required to start a business.

So, what’s really necessary to start a business?

A product or service, paying customers, and a growing market.

If you’d like to start a business, go do it. Get the experience you need by failing a couple of times until you get it right.

What’s your X before Y?

How do you get to Y without X?

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