An Open Letter to College Students: Participate in Your Own Becoming : Under30CEO An Open Letter to College Students: Participate in Your Own Becoming : Under30CEO
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An Open Letter to College Students: Participate in Your Own Becoming

| September 19, 2013 | 38 Comments


Tick, tick, tick… The seconds went by as I tried to answer the final exam’s last question in my first year of university. Unlike most of my peers though, the question I had wasn’t on the test paper in front of me, but rather one I had in my head long before the test even started, “Why am I even here?”

It was a question that I had struggled with for the whole first year of college, and up until the last exam of the year, I still didn’t know. What I did know was going to college didn’t automatically mean I was learning and that if I truly wanted to grow, then it was up to me to make a change in my life.

If you’re anything like me, then I’m sure at some point in your college life, whether listening to a lecture, writing an exam or doing your homework, you would have asked the same question.

Why am I even here?

We both know the usual answer. Or should I say answers, because it’s quite obvious nobody really knows why. You need a degree for a job, you need to make connections in college, it’s your last chance to really learn, it’s the next step in life…

I don’t know about you, but since when was life set in stone? College in itself should be admired, but it should only be admired when it is the means to the end of participating in your own becoming. The problem is we start to look at a college degree as a goal because we believe it can guarantee success, but by looking at college as the end as opposed to the means, we close our minds to other possibilities and conform to what society believes we should do instead of what might be right for us.

The world out there is completely different to the one that our parents or professors graduated into.

There have never been more college graduates for the ever-decreasing number of jobs in the market. Currently there are 20% of college grads that don’t have work, and another 22% of college grads that are in jobs that don’t require a college degree. Do you want to leave college and enter a workforce that not only doesn’t value the work that you’ve done for the past 4 years, but also actively forces you to downgrade yourself to a level that you know is beneath you?

Given the world we’re in, it’s time we made a decision.

Knowing the world out there isn’t going to welcome us, do we choose to put our heads in the ground, pretend there is nothing wrong out there and hope for the best? Or do we acknowledge the truth and create a path for ourselves no matter what? For the whole past year, I was angry. I was angry that I was paying for a school I didn’t want to attend, working on things I didn’t believe would ever be useful and getting a degree I didn’t even want. I’m done with sitting in a stuffy lecture room and fooling myself that I’m learning anything, and I challenge you to be done with it too and instead truly learn to grow.

Fast forward two months from the day that I got 26% on that exam, and I’ve managed to learn more than a whole year of college just by being accountable for my own learning. My dream is to show the world that it is possible for anybody to succeed without a bachelor’s degree, and even if you have or plan to get a degree, I invite you to join me in my dream. I invite you to join because to truly learn or succeed in this world, we can’t b*llshit our way through life with diplomas or connections to protect us, but only through own our conscious decisions of challenging ourselves to grow. Over these next few weeks I’ll be starting a “Participating in Your Own Becoming” series to share how I’ve so far taken action in my own life and hopefully inspire you to take action in yours. The world has too many people content with life as it is, but unfortunately, that isn’t good enough. The world needs people like us to stand up and challenge ourselves by continuously learning and making a difference in other people’s lives in order to prove to ourselves that we can make an impact and make the world an even better place.

There are too few of us who are willing to make the hard choice of deciding to choose who we become, so together, lets start today.

Ask yourself, are you willing to take the leap of faith? Are you willing to stand up and acknowledge to yourself and people around you that you are different? Are you ready to truly understand who you are and the path that you must forge for yourself to participate in your own becoming?

I’m ready and if you are too, then leave a comment below and join this community of people who all hold a passion of making a difference by proving to themselves and the world that they can contribute. Although nobody will be able to teach you who you are, by having a group of people who are willing to do the same as you, we can all stand to improve one another and together we can make a difference.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s make the change.

J Tan is a thinker who wants to provoke people into thinking how they can challenge themselves to grow and become the best they can be.

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About the Author: Justin Tan

Justin Tan is a thinker who wants to provoke people into thinking how they can challenge themselves to grow and become the best they can be.

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  • Carla

    I’m ready!

  • Yasmine Khater

    Love it ;) I think th oigh college is a great place for some people… I got to explore different topics and areas I was passionate about.

    And i got to travel alot thanks to student organizarions such as aiesec

  • J Tan

    Hi Yasmine thanks for the comment! I agree it definitely can be, but the key lesson I took away from my first year was we can’t rely on college to get us to where we need to be, we still have to depend on ourselves. Your initiative to go to AIESEC is a great example of how we need to participate in our own becoming!

  • J Tan

    Hey Carla that’s awesome! Let me know what you’ll be doing by posting here and hope you like the articles that follow up.

  • Yasmine Khater

    Yes for sure! I agree we need to rely on our own

  • ankit agawal

    i m a first year college graduate, who really wants to do something big in life.
    I am up for the challenge and hopefully it will help me in my own becoming.

  • Gregory

    Yes. I’m in the 12th year of highschool and I am striving to be different from the norm that was apparently set in stone. I don’t have any plans on wasting my time with college/university that I probably will not use after the final exam.

  • Kevin Diamond

    Congrats on taking a leap of faith in pursuing “you”. There’s a lot of support behind you. If people want to learn, they will set themselves on a journey to do so, there is no need to rely on other entities other than your own ambition and passions.

  • andile

    yes, that is so true we need to participate in our own become in order to live fulfilled lives, that is what I have been doing for the past two months, I left university and took accountability of my own learning because I hated attending lectures because I gained nothing from them. now I enjoy reading what I believe will enrich my life and probably benefit others too.

  • Patricia Dantzler

    my Aunty Arianna recently got a new white Audi RS7 only from working off a macbook. Check Out Your URL>>>>w­w­w.­­B­­­l­u­e­7­8.­­­?­?­?Check this

  • J Tan

    Hey Gregory, that’s great that you want to take it on yourself to really get going in life. Any particular ideas that you might have?

  • J Tan

    Hey Kevin thanks for the congratulations. I completely agree, at the end of the day the only person who can get the results is you, and by realizing that, I’m sure you’ll get to where you want to one day be.

  • J Tan

    Hey andile, That’s fantastic that you took it upon yourself to be accountable to your own learning. Is there anything in particular that you’ve achieved that you’re really proud of?

  • J Tan

    Hey Ankit, it’s great that you’ve got the motivation. There’ll be a few more articles posted up in over the next few weeks that can show you exactly how to participate in your own becoming and I hope that can really help set you on your path.

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  • Kimberly Crossland

    Great article! I think too many people in older generations fail to see the truth in your statement “The world out there is completely different to the one that our parents or professors graduated into.” Technology, the economy, the way education impacts job performance – it has evolved significantly. With that said, I do see advantages of going to college. You get what you put in to a certain extent, and there are plenty of learning experiences to be had along the way that you may not get if you just jumped straight into the workforce. Interesting topic.

  • J Tan

    Hi Kimberly,thanks for the compliment and I’m glad you agree with most of my points. In the past college was almost a guarantee of success, but nowadays just due to the sheer number of college graduates, it’s becoming less and less of a competitive advantage. I also agree with your point and in hindsight I wish I made myself clearer, college can definitely be helpful in the right circumstances, but ultimately we still have to rely on ourselves to get further in life.

  • Tyson Hartnett

    Cool! Not!

  • Tyson Hartnett

    J, I really think this mindset is starting to catch on. Great article, too. Very personal, with good points . I think this is catching on because the new wave of college kids is realizing they can learn almost as much from a college degree as they can from the internet. along with the free e-textbooks out there, you can really school yourself, while you live in the real world, not a world contructed for grades and tests. I read a stat recently that said employers would look harder (or hire, I forget which one) an applicant 90% more if they have real experience, like an internship. Nobody wants people with book smarts anymore. They want creative, passionate, and people who have real life experience, not the life of class at 12-1:15, then free the rest of the day.
    so, great article, and congratulations

  • J Tan

    Hey Tyson, that’s definitely true and I feel Under30CEO and your own articles are a great example of this phenomenon. It’s scary how much college has changed in the last few years, the average college student works 50% less at college than their previous generation, so when combined with the huge number of people with a degree, we can really see the declining value of a college degree. Personally, I can’t wait to continue writing articles and doing what I believe will really contribute to the world and myself, and am glad to see others like yourself do the same.

  • Tyson Hartnett

    yea, i think that’s the main point in all of this, contributing to yourself and other people. One thing I see with corporate jobs it that people only care about themselves. They go into work, do their job, get a paycheck, and go home. They don’t have any bigger picture or vision.
    These new entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are out to change the world and help other people along the way. And I think for a lot of them it’s more about the product or service than it is about the money. Zuckerberg probably never thought he would make money with facebook, but he did. there is just a different mindset between these types of people which, i think, is freaking beautiful

  • Summer

    Love this attitude! My husband and I just launched a website and community for people who wish to live out their adventures, make a difference and have the income to support their dreams. Glad to know there are many of us out there!! :) Thanks for writing this article and bringing this subject to light.

  • J Tan

    Definitely agree on the entrepreneur point, it’s about creating something that is able to help others and make a real difference. Speaking from experience, it really is a joy to help others from something that we’ve made. Of course we don’t want to generalise, but it is a shame when people (me included) lose sight of the larger picture and only care about the tangible objects.

  • J Tan

    Hey Summer, that’s great! I’d love to check out your website and get a better understanding of what you and your husband are aiming to do. With Under30CEO there will always be a community to support those of us who participate in our own becoming and choose to make a difference. It was my pleasure and hope that you will enjoy my future articles as well.

  • SteffJS

    I am a 26year old from Zimbabwe who never had the opportunity to go to College, and have been struggling to find my purpose in life since I left high school. I feel so ready to finally figure out who and what I am meant to be, as well as fulfilling my dreams of travelling the world with my fiance.

  • Summer

    Hi J! The Under30CEO community is fabulous, I was very excited to find it a few weeks ago and look forward to reading more articles and having more discussions. :)
    Our website is -an adventure worth sharing

  • J Tan

    Hi Summer, I’m glad to hear you like it here and hope we can deliver quality content that really makes a difference in your life. I’ll definitely make sure it check it out and see what I can learn from you.

  • J Tan

    Hi SteffJS, finding our purpose is one of the hardest things we have to do, and personally I’m not even sure if I’ve found mine yet. I’m very happy for you that you know exactly what you want to do and hope that you’re able to achieve all you want to with your fiancé

  • Tyson Hartnett

    I think helping others was a lost art, and now it is becoming a found art again. Now, there motivation and tips everywhere from experts trying to help others. I think that is good, but separating it all and finding out what works for you is important.

  • Tyson Hartnett

    Gregory, don’t discount college so fast. Lots of employers want to see a degree, even if you think you won’t use it. Unless you have a definite startup in mind, I think college might be a good place to figure out what their next steps are, if you could afford it. However, if you could get into a real startup somewhere and get real-world experience, that could out-weigh any college education

  • J Tan

    Yea there are definitely cycles for these things and I think the idea of helping each other is definitely coming back. Yea there’s definitely a lot out there but the important thing is to only take what applies to you and leave the rest.

  • J_Moore0229

    I’m a 21yo 4th year college student at UNL. I have never read an article that I have connected so much with. I feel this same way and am ready to jump on board. I’m excited to know there are other people out there like me and I’m ready to make a difference and do something bigger than myself!

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  • J Tan

    Hi J_Moore, I’m glad that you’ve connected so much with this article and I hope you’ll feel just as connected with my other articles. There are tons of people here on Under30CEO that have the exact same mindset, and if there’s anything that you’re looking to do, let me know here in the comments!

  • J Tan

    Hey Gregory sorry for the late reply, I didn’t realize I didn’t respond to this. As somebody who always wanted to be different, I understand where you are coming from and definitely encourage you on participating in your own becoming. At the same time, there’s no gain in being different for the sake of being different. I never found out who said this but this quote really applies, “I didn’t set out to be different, I set out to be me…and that is different.”. Just remember you already are unique and by choosing to explore your uniqueness you’ll naturally be different to everybody else. Let me know if that helps!

  • InterestedParty

    I invite you to join because to truly learn or succeed in this world,
    we can’t b*llshit our way through life with diplomas or connections to
    protect us, but only through own our conscious decisions of challenging
    ourselves to grow.

  • InterestedParty

    What exactly IS the call to action? What will you be doing instead to “Participate in Your Own Becoming”?

    Diplomas and connections are valid assets and should not be dismissed. Formal schooling may not be for everyone, but for some people higher education is the only way to get to where they want to be. It is all about setting personal goals and working to achieve them, inside a classroom or without.

  • J Tan

    Hi InterestedParty, I agree diplomas and connections are definitely valid assets and should not be dismissed, and for some careers, are in fact needed. The call to action is to decide to take ahold of your life, rather than just going with the flow, and truly choose what you want to do and find out how to achieve it. You get it exactly by saying the important thing is to set personal goals and work to achieve them, and by doing so, we participate in our own becoming. Personally, writing these articles is one of my ways to participate in my own becoming because writing not only allows me to achieve one of my dreams of helping people to clearly think about their own aspirations, but also allows me to clearly think about my own goals and how to achieve them.