This is an amazing piece of writing by Ma’am:
It is a time like no other.
You are about to start on the most important, most awaited and most respected race of life — the Rat Race.
If this word conjures mild negative feelings in your mind, blame your idealistic teachers, some unnecessarily wise people and some obscure columnists for that. They might have tried to spread fear and disgust against this greatest race. They might have gone as far as demeaning it or belittling it. They might have tried hard to convince you to do ‘meaningful’ work, whatever that is. I mean, every child knows that work must be necessarily boring, mundane, repetitive and meaningless. How else do you define work?
The Rat Race sees the largest participation all over the world. Of course, billions of people cannot be wrong. So, cast aside any doubt that you may have. Do not pause to think, just prepare to run.
Like all races of the world, the biggest prize goes to the fastest runner. The fastest runner will be awarded the golden opportunity of ‘settling’ in the dream land of milk and honey, which awaits you with open arms with its black luxury sedans, eight-lane expressways, overflowing departmental stores, glass-front skyscrapers and so many other wonderful things.
Comrade Rat, you just have to get a couple of things right — that’s it — your one-way ticket to paradise is confirmed. Don’t forget, rats all over the world are doing far more for far lesser prizes. It’s because they don’t know the correct techniques. But worry not, I am here to guide you.
I am sure you have been told and re-told about the necessary things you need to do. But this to-do list will help you to absolutely nail it and hence you should also nail this list in every possible place of your house (including the bathroom).
- Read not ‘for pleasure’, but for vocabulary, reading speed and scores.
Of course, reading textbook is different. They can make your grades look good. But which person, in their correct mind, can pick up a story book for fun? But alas! Those horrible things now stand between you and your dream. Sadly, the steps to paradise is marked with vocabulary. We can hope that the gatekeepers of heaven will eventually understand the futility of reading and reform the SAT test. But till then, you must put up with this nonsense.
So, dig out that useless device called Kindle, dust it and read. Even though you are forced to do this, never forget the true objective of reading. It is to gather vocabulary and increase your reading speed, NOT to get enjoyment out of it. While reading, if you happen to have the feeling of ‘enjoyment’, put down the Kindle, take deep breath and wait till the feeling passes.
2. Comrade Rat, beware of people called ‘friends’. Friends are enemies.
Self-optimisation is going to be the key ingredient for winning this race. Things like ‘friendship’, being ‘helpful’, ‘volunteering’ are severe roadblocks on your way. These will only reduce your scores. In order to win, you must demotivate friends (especially the ones who will also give SAT), be selfish and secretive, and never do anything which will not decorate your CV.
For example, you can sneakily collect past exam papers on the net, practise them before the mock tests to score highly. This will go a long way to make friends feel inferior. Or, if you have luckily come across an English or Math book which can help in increasing your scores, never utter a word about its existence to friends. Or, if your school teachers ask you to volunteer for the Contest Week or to take classes of junior kids, agree only if they promise you in writing that they will mention it in their recommendations. If they don’t give you a confirmation on this, feign a stomach ache or dysentery.
Don’t even write an article like this one because no newspaper or magazine is going to publish such a writing, so such an activity cannot add to your resume.
3. I still see you often indulging yourself in something called the Great Game. That treacherous game must be avoided like plague.
I will not have to remind you, Comrade Rat, the immense importance of the extracurricular activities. Every second of your life that’s not spent in collecting grades and scores (in SAT, APs, Subject Tests, Board Exams) must be spend in collecting achievements in extra-curriculars.
Think objectively and selfishly, Comrade. Does the Great game add to your profile? Does scoring a century in this school-invented game add to your list of achievements? The gatekeepers of paradise will laugh at you, Comrade Rat. Hence, never ever play that thing again. As per the colleges, it is not an ‘extra-curricular’ activity. Let me tell you what is.
If your parents are rich, go to Congo or Zambia — take a picture of you feeding the poorest child you can catch near the airport. The gatekeeper of the paradise are real suckers for that kind of stuff.
Or publish a book (it doesn’t matter if anybody reads it or not, so don’t bother about writing quality) — daddy can surely pay a willing publisher to help you. If unfortunately, you possess poorer parents, participate in every possible competition you can find — swimming, poetry, singing, dancing, story-writing, karate, weight-lifting or archery — try to win at least one of them.
In case of failure in everything, community service will rescue you. Go clean the tables in the town library or donate your faded and shredded clothes to homeless people. Those colleges really prefer self-optimising people who can pretend to be saints. That’s really the ultimate character trait to posses. If you are in doubt, look at the richest people in the world.
I think with these precious advice, you are now ready to embark on your journey. Cross your heart and make a solemn promise to yourself that you will never violate the instructions given here. Follow them blindly and the paradise will be yours.
All the best!