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April 10, 2008


how to write a good dissertation

Blogs are good for every one where we get lots of information for any topics nice job keep it up !!!


i just read my comment and realized that i didn't complete some sentences!
my apologies. i was writing it as a draft first, and then when i had another thought i needed to get out, i started writing about that, with the intention to go back and finish the last sentence. apparently, i forgot. and didn't read it over to make sure it was ok before i submitted it. i'm sorry!

so here's what those sentences should have said:

Life's too short to NOT do what you're passionate about. I have a lot of friends in business school (at your alma mater, Harvard, as well as at Stanford, Wharton and Northwestern) and they didn't all major or excel in Science or Math. Instead there were quite a few who majored in other liberal arts disciplines and now those individuals are pursuing what I think is great work in social entrepreneurship, not profit business, clean energy companies, global justice, etc.

Examples of Indians who are changing the world by breaking barriers, following their passions, and using their true talents (writing, directing, dancing, creating, etc.....NOT what they think they should be doing- studying for med school)
Mindy Kaling- Writer, Actor "The Office", Wrote, Directed & Starred in the play "Matt & Ben" after graduating from Dartmouth with a Playwriting degree. "Matt & Ben" got RAVE reviews and that's how she was discovered and landed an agent.
Kal Penn- Actor, "Harold & Kumar" series, "The Namesake," "House," and is currently teaching a class on 'Asian Americans in Media' at UPENN.
Jhumpa Lahiri- writer of Pulitizer Prize winning book "Interpreter of Maladies", PhD from Boston in Literature (not math! or science!)

There's a long list of others...but I gotta go. The point I wanted to make was that I agree that Indians and Chinese people are making advances in technology and science ahead of Americans, but it's unfair to make that argument without also noting individuals who are creating successful careers from non-traditional paths...which I think is a lot harder, riskier, and scarier because it's not as stable and definitely not guaranteed.

I once had a professor who said it was better to fail spectacularly (while trying an idea that was really outside of the box and full of risks) than to just get by and cruise along.


Hi Mr. Compton,

I watched your documentary and thought it was great but I would have loved to see a few more students represented from India, China and the US....just to get more perspective. The sample size was way too small.

I have a few thoughts to add to the discussion: First, I do believe that math & science are emphasized more strongly and with more intensity in China and in India. Yet, English, Literature, Music & Art are not. One can argue that the former subjects are more important but I think they are equally important. Creating a piece of music or authoring an essay that gets published and changes the way people THINK is a great skill.

I'm a first generation Asian-American (parents are from India but I was born in NYC). I always knew education was important and thus studied hard but I also knew that pursuing other activities were important too as long as I didn't let my grades slip. I had a 99 GPA, was an Intel Science Semi-Finalist, a National Merit Scholarship winner, and won numerous awards in English, Math & Science. However, I also captained our Varsity Soccer Team (All-State), was MVP 2 years in a row, got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, created a successful after school language arts program for an impoverished school district in Brooklyn. I went to an Ivy League college here in the states, and won a Fulbright to study comparitive social policy at Oxford.

I'm giving that personal info. because up until I started college, I was set for medical school. On paper, I looked like the perfect student to attend Med School- Intel Winner, straight A's in 5 Science AP classes, independent research at a Columbia University lab, etc etc etc.
I thought I wanted to cure cancer.

And then I got to college and saw another world of opportunity. There was more to life. I'm not saying being a doctor isn't a great choice. It is. But I realized I wanted to create a life where I did something that MATTERED. And I wanted to be able to travel. As a doctor treating patients, I wouldn't be able to do either of these things.

A number of social policy, economics and international relations classes really changed me as well. My dissertation my senior year of college was the best in my class and I'm so glad I'm on this path now.

I've met many Indians, Koreans, Chinese, etc. students along the way. Many are 1st generation kids like me (born here) and many I met in College were immigrants who had wealthy parents and connections to get into an Ivy League (they were also smart but couldn't have gained admission without having access to money).

What I see is that my generation is more open to pursuing other careers than the traditional path of DOCTOR or ENGINEER. In fact, most of my peer group is hell bent on changing the world. You don't need a degree in science or math to do this. You can study international policy, and do research, go to law school, write a best selling novel, create a play, act, work for the UN, work for the World Bank, do PR, etc etc.

Yes, you need to understand technology, but my generation is way ahead of the game. We all have IPhones, and wordpress/blog accounts, and digital cameras and ipods and can navigate Google and other sites better than our elders. Look at Business Week's Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25- they're all American and they're using Technology to change the world. They don't necessarily have strong math and science backgrounds.

More examples: One of my friends just finished law school at Harvard and is working for the Center for Biological Diversity where they're trying to pass a law to get the Polar Bear on the endangered species list. This way, it will be illegal to drill oil in their habitat, which is diminishing quickly due to global warming (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=court-orders-polar-bear-announcement). She's a lawyer, who majored in English in college, and is doing more for this issue than a biologist, etc. would be able to do. According to your views, only math and science are necessary. I argue that they're important, but other subjects are equally important.

On that note, almost all of the Indians and Korean/Chinese kids I've met who've recently come to the states for graduate studies CANNOT write. It's really sad. Basic grammar and sentence structure is outrageously flawed. What good is a mathematical or science genius if they can't articulate their thoughts or write a solid research paper analyzing their theories? It's just a sad state.

Here's another example of a field other than math/science that's changing the world: Microfinance has alleviated poverty. Yunnus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to Microfinance got his PH.D in Economics from Vanderbilt. I majored in Econ and you don't need a solid math background to excel. You just need to know the basics and some calculus. Most of it is interdisciplinary and relies on knowledge of other subjects like development, international studies, history, etc.

Life's too short to NOT do what you're passionate about. I have a lot of friends in business school (at your alma mater, Harvard, as well as at Stanford, Wharton and Northwestern) and they didn't all major or excel in Science or Math. Instead

Examples of Indians who are changing the world by breaking barriers, following their passions, and using their true talents (writing, directing, dancing, creating, etc.....NOT what they think they should be doing- studying for med school)
Mindy Kaling- writer, "The Office", also

One last comment, you mentioned that Indians from the motherland could kick it with Americans (they're just as goofy, creative, etc) because Rohit could sing a song? And other stuff I'm sure...
I see your point of view, but you're far removed from the education system in that you're no longer a student. I'm a RECENT product of the American school system- I recently graduated from Yale and start at Harvard Law in the fall where I'm also getting my MBA.
At this level (elite university), Indians & Chinese kids def. party and go out and can kick it. Once you're in a good school, it's like you passed the test and you can relax a bit. Although I'll be singing a different tune once classes start!

But, in high school, the asians are not chilling. They are studying hard. Trust me, I was one of them. But I personally made a decision to pursue other activities- volunteering, sports, etc that interested me because life sucks if it's just school.

Something else that is encouraged here and not in India- team work. (Americans are the kings/queens of 'group effort' and team work.)
And raising awareness of causes (AIDS walks, Races- bike/running/etc to raise money for cancer research etc)....doesn't exist in India.
In fact, the whole concept of helping people who are less fortunate does not exist. Indians and Chinese students living in those countries are only encouraged to be the BEST, study the hardest and be number 1 in school.
They're never told to use their talent/intelligence to help others.

Doctors without Borders is mostly caucasian.
As is Lawyers without Borders.

Sorry for the long post. Great movie. Definitely got me thinking. And has sparked great debate. I hope you post this comment as I bring up some interesting view points. And I do think this movie is a must see for anyone in graduate schools of education- have you shown it at Columbia or Stanford yet? They have the top ranked education programs in the country.


I am sorry that I missed the second screening and that the reception was the same. I grew up in Cambridge and I currently work for Harvard. I don't know what's in the water here. Right now many high schools in Massachusetts, including those in the "cities upon the hill"-Boston and Cambridge-are not producing enough students who can begin college work immediately. Many are also realizing that for all of the touting of the MCAS results, a lot of the high school students in the Bay State could not ever succeed at the schools that many of their Asian competitors are flooding, which are located in their backyard-at least not without any type of remediation.




I wish you would bring your 2MM road show to my backward little Bay area burg, where the science teacher pushes welding as the hot 21st C job ticket and less than half of the students who do graduate are eligible to apply to our state univ.
I've lent my copy of 2MM to our principal, who showed it at a staff meeting, and described it as "interesting." And to the PTSA hottentots, who termed it "not applicable" or even, get this, "racist." I've lent a copy to my state legislator, too, and it's on the back burner as a possible community event for this fall. As you said in Palo Alto last December, the problem is the perception that "what was good enough in high school in 1950, 1960, 1970, etc. is good enough now."

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