Gaining an A on a test is not the essential thing. What matters is the knowledge you acquire to get the A. It is a way for society to quickly understand your level of knowledge without needing to get to know you in depth.
This is the same as getting a driving license. In many developing countries, a large number of people do not possess a driving license. This does not mean they cannot drive. It simply implies that they have not taken a driving test. Some have been driving for years and are competent drivers, while others are unsafe drivers. If a driving test is enforced, it will remove the bad drivers from the roads, but the good drivers will remain unaffected.
And so, it does feel strange to me when people try and game the system. They turn the indicator, the A, the driving test pass, into the end, not the means.
Sure, you can pay off your driving instructor and pass your driving test without truly understanding how to drive safely on the road. But, is that the kind of person you want to be? Do you not concern yourself with your own safety, that of your passengers, and everyone else with whom you share the roads? Because bribing the driving instructors gives you the indicator without the skill to back it up. It does not automatically make you a better driver.
Society has many of these indicators because we have already gone through the painful lessons of not having them, and we have collectively decided that it is better to have them than not.
Think of someone who gets a PhD degree. This means a lot. It is, in total, close to ten years of overall study if you include undergraduate and master’s degree, and sometimes more.
A typical PhD degree involves several years of intensive research, leading to the submission and defence of a dissertation or thesis.
This process usually includes the following:
One of the first steps in a typical PhD degree is choosing a research topic and identifying a supervisor to guide the research process. Before beginning the research itself, it is important to review relevant literature and develop a detailed research proposal outlining the proposed study. The next step is conducting experiments or collecting data to test the research hypothesis or gather information relevant to the study. After the data is collected, it is analyzed and interpreted to draw conclusions and make recommendations. A large part of the PhD process is dedicated to writing and revising the dissertation or thesis, which is a comprehensive document that summarizes the research and its findings.
Finally, the dissertation or thesis is defended in front of a committee of experts in the field, who evaluate the work and determine if the student has met the requirements for the PhD degree. Throughout the process, students typically take coursework, attend seminars, and participate in other academic activities to further their knowledge and skills. The work is highly independent and self-driven, and it’s a significant time and effort commitment.
When you come across someone with a PHD, you are presented with a robust heuristic. You can make certain assumptions about that person and be close-to-sure that you are right. This person knows how to focus, knows how to study; they are curious in knowledge, appreciates deep work, and so on.
Someone with a PhD typically has a strong understanding of their field of study and the ability to think critically and independently. They have likely conducted original research and have developed skills in data analysis and interpretation, as well as the ability to communicate their findings effectively. They are experts in their field and have a high level of knowledge and expertise.
Obtaining a PhD is a rigorous and challenging process that requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance. It is not uncommon for the process to take several years, and many students face obstacles and challenges along the way. Those who successfully complete a PhD have demonstrated their ability to overcome these challenges and persist in the face of adversity. They have the ability to set and achieve long-term goals and have developed a high level of self-discipline, motivation, and time management skills.
And so, my point today is to choose your goals wisely. Sure, go after the indicators. This is essential to ensuring that you can function with the rest of society. But, remember that they are just a means to an end.
Consider this: you’re embarking on a challenging 2,000km car journey with many dangerous roads. Would you select a driver with a license but no driving experience or someone with decades of familiarity with the route but no license?
Your focus must be on the underlining skill or achievement that the indicators measure.