An unique love-hate relationship with Tech

Photo courtesy of Son Dao

I am going to graduate this May, and only now, when the separation date is very nearby, that I realized I have developed a love-hate relationship with Tech.

I love this school. Just recently I became aware of the fact that never before in my life I have surrounded myself by so many smart people, so many geniuses; and that later in my life I am very unlikely to live in this environment again. In high school, I was the top dog, everyone knew me and admired me. At Tech, I converged to the average. I was so fortunate to meet and work with many geniuses. Sometimes in a lab, I would just stand there, try to follow and understand what my teammate is doing, who is running over all the calculations like a flash. Many other times, I would learn so much by doing homework with my colleagues, who would explain the materials to me until when I fully grasp it. I love this school because it is really a great blessing to be surrounded and befriended with those brilliant people.

But I also hate this school. I hate that Tech has never made me feel satisfied. Maybe it is just because I am a perfectionist, but let me elaborate on it.

I hate it when I get a good grade on a test. It is only because the test was made to be easy and did not cover all materials that I was supposed to know. When I get a good grade, I immediately feel like I did not deserve it. I know that if the test problems were as difficult as the hardest homework problems at the end of each chapter, I and mostly everyone else would not be able to get a good grade.   

I also hate when I get a bad grade on a test. It is simply because I tried my best, and there is nothing more I can do, really, even in retrospect. I did my best, and it really bothers me that there is something out there, unconquered and that I failed to conquer it.

Finally, I hate it the most when I get a bad grade on a test and still get an A in the class. Thanks to the generous curve, but no thanks. I do not deserve this A; I feel guilty. I should not get an A just because everyone struggled and I happened to be somewhere at the higher end. But what bothers me even more is that I cannot come up with any solution for this. We cannot make half of the class fail the class, can we? To be clear, maybe it is just me being so hard on myself. In my experience, if you got a C in a class at Tech, you had acquired fundamental knowledge of the subject; if you got a B, you had good knowledge of the subject; and if you got an A, you had solid understanding of the subject. It is just that in engineering, “there is so much more knowledge beyond the grading scale” that bothers me the most.