I was a University Medalist, and I f***ing graduated

Some of you already know what this post is referring to. If you don’t, check out this terribly written piece made viral on LinkedIn about some guy who brags about failing all of his classes for a semester and dropping out of the University of Maryland two weeks before graduation, even though he was Valedictorian of the University with a GPA of 3.94.

Before I start discussing this article/letter, we are going to do two things:

  1. We’re going to treat this like this post was entirely real.
  2. We’re going to set aside the fact that U of M does not have a valedictorian and instead has a University Medalist.

I have a lot of feelings about this piece (mostly annoyance) because I was a University Medalist at LSU in 2014. For those of you who may not believe me about my academic achievement, I am mentioned by name in these two articles published by the university.

I came across this article two days ago as I was looking through my emails in the morning, and thought it would be worth a read. Instead what I read was like a bizarre fever dream that positively reeked of privilege. On my second read of the letter, I realized that approximately half of it was a rehash of every single “Achieve your dreams” or “Increase your productivity” article I have seen online. The writing style felt like a motivational speaker trying to convince you to purchase their book/seminar series/21-day cleanse because they had found the secret to life. I suppose he meant to be motivating, but the only thing he motivated me to do is roll my eyes so hard that they hurt.

Moving into the second half of the letter, he gets into about how he wants to become a “self-made entrepreneur” without a degree. He feels that a job that requires a degree is an escape plan from his dreams, and he doesn’t want to work with anyone who values a degree over being fearless. To him, a degree is just a piece of paper. You know, there are a lot of important pieces of paper out there. Your birth certificate. Social Security card. Legislature. The piece of paper that states that your doctor can legally be a doctor. In the medical field, we like to say that if it’s not written down or documented in some way, then it didn’t happen. Having a degree or a “piece of paper” is quite important in many fields, so to equate not following your dreams to obtaining a degree is a fallacy.

My favorite part about this letter is when he’s trying to tell his parents not to be mad at him, and that he still needs their money and a place to stay until he gets his dreams started. What happened to being a self-made entrepreneur? For someone who stated that he didn’t need a safety net, he’s sure as hell depending on the original safety net, Mom and Dad. He then tries to gain pity by saying that he couldn’t even buy two sandwiches from a bagel place and he’s got low funds in his bank account. How sad. I think that a real entrepreneur would have planned for these things beforehand, and would know how to budget his money to get actual groceries instead of eating at a chain restaurant. But yeah, you go on, you self-made entrepreneur who doesn’t need a safety net.

After he finishes his letter and talks about how inspirational his parents are, he talks about how he wasted (I mean, spent) his time at university. He states that he rarely went to class after freshman year, studied everything at home and only showed up for class, and that none of his teachers inspired him. I would like to note – how could you ever get inspiration from your teachers if you never were around enough to know them?

So what did he do in his free time outside of class? He worked out, played sports, joined a fraternity, went out partying three times a week, and did “a lot of other things.” Wow, that’s really impressive.

When I was in school, attending all of my courses and becoming a University Medalist, I completed my nutrition sciences major and psychology minor, took extra courses I was interested in, became involved with research and did an honors thesis, learned how to do aerial silks, was active in 6 to 8 student organizations at any time, participated in activism, hung out with friends, commuted back and forth to school, and still got 8 hours of sleep at night. Oh, and I graduated with my piece of paper (that’s allowing me to pursue my dreams). I guess people utilize their time differently.

It pisses me off that he wasted people’s time and money, and generally has a personality (from what I can perceive) that has some sort of superiority complex. I don’t have a problem with people dropping out of college – I have several friends who have done so for various reasons. I also acknowledge that there are many successful people who haven’t attended school, and have worked hard to get to where they were. But this guy just gets on my nerves.

I hope that people don’t find his type of mediocrity to be inspiring.

Find your own path, but don’t be a dick about it.