I just graduated from a business school where students would stop at nothing to achieve success, whether it was academically, socially, or professionally. Most likely, it wasn’t considered success until it was academically, socially, and professionally. With the notorious curve ranking students in classes to see what top 10% would get the A’s and the coveted investment banking internships and jobs only taking in less than a dozen students at a time from our school, my peers were tirelessly working to be acknowledged by their peers, professors, and parents.
I don’t think I’ve ever been in such an stifled environment. In such a competitive school, it become more and more about becoming the top and less about a real reason why you want to be at the top. It shouldn’t just be for your parents, or the pay rate you’ll get in your first job, or anything of that sort. It should be because you’re happy doing it. It shouldn’t be because you’ve always done well and you don’t know what you’ll do if you didn’t continue to get straight A’s. It should be because you’re truly enjoying every moment of your college experience.
The idea that I was assigning my own sense of self worth according to how well I did academically in school — and that I didn’t need to do this to myself to feel successful — didn’t occur to me until I was close to graduation. And this is a big part of the problem that Daniel Wong tackles in his book, The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success.
Quick Background on Daniel Wong
Daniel Wong graduated suma cum laude with a double major in Economics and Mechanical Engineering from Duke University. He was born in South Africa, spent his childhood in Hong Kong, and lived most of his life in Singapore before coming to the United States to attend university.
Daniel Wong is all about pursuit of personal growth (which you will see in his book), and stresses the fact that achievements and accolades will never truly satisfy a person unless that person is motivated by the right purpose. You can read more about his awesome personal biography in the first chapter of his book (let’s just say that not only did I relate to his moment of self-discovery, I was also quite envious of his milestones and experiences on the way to earning a degree from Duke University)!
Summary of The Happy Student
Daniel Wong sets out to enlighten students to become intrinsically motivated in their college life through this book. He details 5 important, very active steps to help you become a happy, fulfilled, and successful student. His steps are simple enough.
- Decide to run your own race
- Decide what kind of race to run
- Start running and stay on track
- Keep running despite your fears
- Stay motivated, stay strong
It’s the work he makes you go through in order to properly assess yourself and your motivation in achieving what you want in college that’s the hard part.
What’s special about this book is that it targets ambitious people — people who are trying their hardest and have the highest aspirations. What Daniel aims to fix is more about the perspective — the filter — through which you look at your aspirations and goals.
My Review of The Happy Student
I decided that I would take this book really seriously when Daniel’s publicist shipped me this book. I didn’t want to just glance over it — I came prepared with a notebook and pen to go through the exercises Daniel walks you through in the book (and trust me, that’s a real feat considering I was doing most of my reading on a subway). The great thing about The Happy Student is I learned while reading it that this book is truly applicable to any person who is currently lost in the rat race to society’s predetermined definition of success. If I had read this book early in my college career, I am certain that I would have approached my obstacles very differently.
It feels inherent that college should be about education, but I feel this days the real education you get out of college has been trivialized. You should be finding your life’s purpose in college, and making a lesson out of everything you choose to do in college as a guide for your own personal growth and happiness. Sometimes, that guiding thought gets lost with everything you can and want to do in college. Reading this book can refresh your perspective and put you in a great place to tackle the upcoming semester. I highly recommend this book for any high school or college student who wants a real fulfillment out of everything they experience in college. Read this book if you want more about the journey, rather than merely the outcome.
Note: Just so we’re clear, I got a free copy of the book to review. Do you want a copy of the book? I can do a raffle for a free copy of The Happy Student!