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5 June 2004

What I wish my students knew

Jon Stewart gave the commencement address at William and Mary (which I found via Jay). 

When I left William and Mary I was shell-shocked. Because when you’re
in college it’s very clear what you have to do to succeed. And I
imagine here everybody knows exactly the number of credits they needed
to graduate, where they had to buckle down, which introductory
psychology class would pad out the schedule. You knew what you had to
do to get to this college and to graduate from it. But the unfortunate,
yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core
curriculum. The entire place is an elective. The paths are infinite and
the results uncertain. And it can be maddening to those that go here,
especially here, because your strength has always been achievement. So
if there’s any real advice I can give you it’s this.

College is something you complete. Life is something you experience. So
don’t worry about your grade, or the results or success. Success is
defined in myriad ways, and you will find it, and people will no longer
be grading you, but it will come from your own internal sense of
decency which I imagine, after going through the program here, is quite
strong…although I’m sure downloading illegal files…but, nah, that’s a
different story.

Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in this day and age. And let the chips fall where they may.

I wish that I could convey this to my students.  No amount of
demonstration or explanations seems to convince them otherwise than
that they will be tested and graded on life itself.

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