Last Sunday (July 26, 2020), YWP and student attendees had an interesting session with the speakers on the topic THINGS TO LEARN FROM THE WORLD’S LEADING UNIVERSITIES. The first YWP’s virtual talk show attracted many students from all over the country (Vietnam) as well as those studying and living abroad. The stories of the speakers brought the young people in the audience new perspectives, helped them see where they could make better decisions in their studies and life.
For those who missed the talk show, don’t worry, YWP has recorded the main points and is ready to share with everyone! Let’s review the key content of the talk with YWP, shall we?
Stanford and Harvard
When we hear about Stanford and Harvard, we immediately think of the most prestigious schools, where excellent people are trained. So what makes Stanford and Harvard so different from many other universities? Let's find out the answer to this question together!
The speakers' journeys in universities are different from one another, but what all three agreed on in terms of what makes these two schools stand out is that in the first 2 years, you will learn and experience a lot of different disciplines, and from there find out what field is most suitable for you to pursue.
With a Master's degree from Stanford University, Hieu Nguyen said that the university’s biggest strengths are in 4 disciplines: Law, Medicine, Business and Engineering. Over the years, the school is successful at creating excellent individuals in different fields, who then return to the school to educate the next generations. When a Stanford student has a good idea, there are experts in the field that are willing to guide and support the student. The school always tries to create opportunities for students to work, research and get out of their bubble to interact with the real-world problems.
In contrast to Stanford, Harvard's somewhat traditional environment brought Ha Anh to great experiences, where she got to explore many different fields and had the opportunity to study with top professors while figuring out what industry was the right fit for her.
Coming out from both Stanford and Harvard, Quang Tran has profound insights to share. Harvard University has made a lot of impact on her life, opening many doors to welcome her wherever she goes. While Harvard had taught her how to think critically and work professionally, Stanford created a strong network for her to make her dream come true; it taught her how to lead and work in a larger environment.
Behind the wonderful stories of university life are the difficulties that have brought our speakers to different stories along the journey.
Hieu Nguyen’s biggest difficulty when setting foot in a foreign country was adapting to the culture and integrating with friends from all walks of life. Because he had no one to look after him, Hieu had to learn to take care of himself, be financially independent, and manage his time wisely, among other things. Even with a scholarship in hand, he still had to work part-time to cover his expenses as a college student. The opportunity to become independent from early on allowed Hieu to outperform many of his peers and helped him a lot when being a part of the workforce.
Ha Anh shared with us about the difficulty of trying to study hard but not feeling too pressured and disoriented. There are many careers you can pursue, but how do you make time for yourself and your life? Faced with many choices, she learned to be calm and make wise decisions. Although there were classes that she did not know what to do with them once she finished, they still taught her valuable lessons and gave her the skills that would be helpful later on in life.
She reminded the students to allocate their time to study the fields they are most interested in, and to never lose focus on the important courses in school. The remaining subjects can be self-taught online. After finding out the things you want to study, you ought to set goals and allocate your time appropriately to meet those goals. The same thing goes for extracurricular activities; do what interests you, not what is most interesting to other people.
Before closing the session, the three speakers had three takeaways for the students:
First, you can learn professional knowledge when entering the workforce. The most important things to learn at school are soft skills, self-management, and how to learn.
Second, learn how to work with others effectively. When your school gives you an opportunity to practice leadership, give it a try. Better to fail in school than in “real life.”
And finally, you should make use of all the resources your school has to offer to develop yourself personally and professionally.
Exciting Q&A session between the speakers and the participants
When asked, "How should we keep the motivation to study and develop ourselves over a long period of time?" Ms. Quang Tran shared, if you are faced with something you don’t understand, it is necessary to ask, research and explore. Think of learning as a way for you to know more by expanding your knowledge. To keep yourself motivated, first, talk to your friends about your plans and goals. Second, read books, or join a group that teaches you something you want to learn. When you see other people learn and develop, you will be sure to also want to try harder yourself!
A second-year student from Danang University of Education asked “How do we find like-minded friends and create motivation to grow together?” To answer this question, our speaker Ha Anh had very practical shares. Her advice for the first thing you should do is consider what motivates you since you are the decisive factor. You can also go to online forums to share or read the stories of other people, which sometimes helps us see our problems from a different perspective. Last but not least, changing the environment you are in may bring you new motivation. This could be achieved by joining a new group or club at school where you can find friends with similar interests and who also want to develop themselves.
Coming from Stanford and Harvard, the competitive environments that require students to know how to effectively manage their time and follow through with their plans, Ms. Quang shared her own time-management story. On a 2-3 month cycle she would list out the amounts of time she had spent working on different projects. From there, she could calculate how much time was spent on job A, how much on job B, which greatly helped her adjust her plan for the future. You can refer to Quang's tracking tool here.
Hieu Nguyen advised students not to use a to-do list to set out too many things that they want to do. Instead, you should list only 3 things that must be accomplished by the end of the day. It is also a way to train yourself to be more self-disciplined.
Success stories are not easily made. What our speakers have today is the result of a long journey of hard work and enduring efforts. Hopefully, the sharing of the speakers has given you the motivation you need and will continue to be the driving force for you to keep working hard, learning lots, and improving yourself.