When I was an undergraduate student, I took two courses taught by a professor at KAIST. One was named “Current Affairs in English” while the other was named “Business English Projects.” Though the two courses had different objectives, they relied on the same educational principle: It is entirely up to the students to determine how they will make the most of their time and resources. In other words, rather than following a pre-designed syllabus with selected text books and articles, the students were expected to come up with their own topics of interest, project objectives, research plans, and ways to evaluate their performances as well as the success of their projects. In other words, it was all about autonomy and drive.
At first, naturally, I was surprised by the sheer amount of freedom given to the students. Unlike the majority of the courses I had taken, the two courses were very much akin to survival programs that not only shed light on difficulties of orienting oneself, but also the thrill of becoming more resilient and proactive in the face of uncertainty and pressure. With such impression in mind, I quickly became enthusiastic about the atmosphere of the two courses, and I was fortunate enough to share my enthusiasm with motivated peers that helped me to discover more colorful aspects of undergraduate life. There were many fascinating projects with various interests and objectives, ranging from initiating public awareness of media neutrality in India to engaging in the dilemmas of demand and supply in the renewable energy market where many crowd-funded programs compete for success and support. Though everyone had his or her sense of tension, the class groups were able to share their experiences and efforts with a sense of enthusiasm not easily found in other programs.
After a number of colorful projects, as per the grading process, I had the consultation session with my professor to determine my understanding of my performances as well as my expectations. Since I had neither a broad background in entrepreneurship nor education in disciplines pertaining to my programs, I tried to evaluate myself according to two basic perspectives: motivation and coherence of methodology. Though I was initially nervous about expressing my opinions and concerns, I was able to honestly talk about my performances and limitations, which eventually became an exciting experience. I was happy to see myself discovering a certain sense of closure to engage with my initial impressions of the two courses. Furthermore, my professor appreciated my reflections, which made the sessions memorable.
And after my time in the two courses, I mustered the courage to ask my professor to formally express his confidence in my ability to understand and anticipate what I want the most from my education. After some discussions, I was fortunate enough to receive his recommendation, which helped me to continue my journey as a graduate student.
Overall, the two courses were unique in the sense that they helped me to rethink the meaning of capacity. This may be a very “sciency” analogy, but I can say that the two taught me how to be more aware of the direction of the vector of personal drive. Though respectful attention is necessary for meaningful learning, through my experiences in the two courses, I have come to better appreciate how personal drive can antecede the immediate breadth and intensity of many syllabi and programs offered to a student. It is a kind of experience I would recommend to any student, especially a student who wants to know more about how to make the most of anything he or she may come across along the path of learning. At the end of the day, with the right sight, one will hit a thousand.