Real Quick: What Is It?
"Crush College: An Unorthodox Guide to Adding Sleep, Reducing Stress, Double-Majoring, Graduating Early, and Getting Way More Out of the College Experience" will be an eBook (AND NOW also a full color paperback!) designed to help college students--whether currently struggling or already feeling "on top of things"--to achieve goals once thought impossible by dramatically increasing their effectiveness, eliminating previously-unthinkable amounts of wasted time in their lives, and then re-directing that time towards what's most important.
Alright: Why Write the Book?
Great question. 60% of college students don't graduate within 4 years. This is nuts.
But 40% don't graduate within six. And to make things worse, students everywhere suffer from sleep-deprivation, stress, physical inactivity, and (of course) huge debt that grows with each extra semester.
Even at MIT (my alma mater), friends of mine dropped out because they thought they "didn't have what it took." Other friends took 9 or 10 semesters--both miserably and hugely costly for young adults already in mountains of debt.
Universally, the cultural norm in the US is that college students are expected to lose sleep and become addicted to caffeine. Just today I walked into Starbucks and saw this--years ago, I wouldn't have blinked, but today I realize it's a sign that something's wrong:
I think all of the above is unacceptable. My mission with "How to Crush College" is to change this
forever, affecting change at the only place it's realistic: with
students themselves. I want to take college students from treading water
to excelling and loving college.
A successful, joyous college career should not be reserved for the lucky few. I want to give everyone a surefire way to achieve this. I want to eradicate burnout and restore fun. I want to make college great.
What Inspired You to Write?
Besides the above stories and statistics, I finally got around to writing after helping enough of my friends one-on-one, and hearing enough of them tell me I should write a book.
Despite being a solid-B student in high school, I managed to sneak out of MIT with a Bachelors (with 2 minors) and a Masters in 4 years, while still getting lots of sleep and never pulling an all-nighter after freshman fall. People with varying levels of success and struggle asked me, "what are you doing differently?" It was hard to describe at first, but I started to try crystallizing what I was doing and help others.
The result was a series of cheat sheets, Excel tools, and a lot of one-on-one coaching time with friends and with my fraternity (where I was Scholarship Chair). For some time, this stuff sat around.
In my work as an operations/management consultant (my day job for the past 4 years), I've kept alight my love of really helping make a difference in people's lives... and I've become more confident in my ability to make major changes in people's lives.
How do You Plan to Save College?
The key principle is this: those that wildly succeed are not separated by those that drop out by superior intellect or work ethic. They have a process, which helps them to constantly shed off unnecessary work and redirect this time to more important stuff (be it studying for a tough test, sleeping more, or taking on extra classes).
In my experience the process has been both consistent and (blessedly) simple. Problem is: we don't teach it to our kids when they're preparing for college, so they show up to their dorms without the tools needed to thrive. I intend to teach people how to thrive.
What Makes You Qualified?
Having spent 4 years in operations/management consulting, I've seen the common principles that help certain business cultures excel, and others flail. I've spent my career to date turning the flailing cultures into effective ones. Clients are consistently amazed at how much they're capable of when they change a few practices and mindsets. With small (no-cost) changes in how clients manage themselves, we've made incredible things happen (like 50% increases in factory productivity) in a matter of a few months.
In college, some of these principles started to emerge in my mind, but it took me some time to put two and two together. Here's my personal experience:
from MIT in 4 years with a Bachelors and Masters degree, 2 minors, 2
publications, and some great recommendations. Throughout this, I
averaged 7 hours of sleep per night, partied on weekends, got to the
gym, got involved in student government and my fraternity, and took on
jobs during the school year. I even changed majors twice.
I never pulled an all-nighter after
my freshman fall, when I got fed up with being miserable and decided to
take a hard look at how I was using my time. After settling my own life
(and taking on more), I began to formalize the system I used for my
friends and others around me. I also started actively noticing what systems others were using for themselves to work. And--you guessed it--the most successful in college also had a unique and commons set of mindsets and practices (and not super-smartness or superior work ethic) that set them apart.
What Really Makes "Crush College" Different?
There are some talented authors out there like Cal Newport that have written some hugely popular books on the subject. I've read many of them, as well as the mass of "productivity" books for business.
I think all fall well short of what students need in a few key ways:
1) Their books are long (very long, in the case of Newport), scattered lists of suggestions and advice. Much of it is even very good advice. But which of it applies to you most? Are you prepared to make some 70+ separate changes once you put the book down? Do you know which few really matter?
2) These books (much like Covey's "7 Habits") explain what to do, but do not guide students through the challenging process of making permanent personal changes. We've all tried to change before and have often failed. We've all gotten lots of good advice that we haven't carried through, despite our intent.
3) They're fundamentally limited to the collective wisdom of the very good--placing a fixed ceiling on what's possible. This holds the "very good" back from going further to become truly exceptional.
How is "Crush College" different?
1) "Crush College" provides a straightforward process of helping students identify the key areas in their lives to focus in order to achieve huge results.
(CAUTION: The examples below are examples from my own college experience, and are not necessarily the changes you should make or the sources of time that you're wasting. "Crush College" is about guiding you to find your own biggest, easiest opportunities to eliminate wasted time and improve effectiveness, rather than telling you what changes to make. Use the below for illustrative purposes.)
2) This means, instead of trying to choose from or make dozens of possible changes, students make a few small changes that produce dramatic results.
3) After identifying what changes to make, "Crush College" helps students to easily adopt and stick to new behaviors and habits with minimal time and effort, and no guilt or self-shaming.
4) A process of challenging introspection helps students to identify and eradicate wasted time that nobody ever thought existed--meaning far more is possible than we've ever been taught.
Through these, "Crush College" acts as a guide every detailed step of the way to victory, going far beyond giving advice and listing good ideas. With specific instructions and tools custom-built to execute on each step students aren't left to "do the hard part" on their own--changes are easy and results are both speedy and dramatic. Success builds on itself as students see the impact, work more effectively, and have more available time from each iteration of improvement.
What's in the Book?
These principles, practices, and mindsets are translated into a very clear, simple step-by-step guide that is targeted directly at college students. Its early steps focus on the biggest picture, pursue the most time, and create early wins that motivate students to keep going and keep making progress.
Without giving away too much, the idea is to turn traditional wisdom on its head by helping students do more with fewer hours, less pain, and less guilt. Instead of helping students read more pages, Crush College helps them learn more with fewer. Instead of long, eye-numbing study blocks: short, focused ones that take less than half the time. Instead of the procrastination-guilt cycle: manipulating our own brains to excitedly anti-procrastinate. Instead of following a bunch of tips: systematically hunting down the biggest time sinks and custom-building projects to get that time back.Key Principles:
- Far more improvement is possible than you believe.
- You must aggressively challenge assumptions about your work to find the most time to recover.
- Being deeply in touch with your goals is critical to stay focused and get the most out of college.
- Prioritizing is about choosing what not to do.
- Go after semesters and weeks of time--not minutes.
- 80% of the results come in the first 20% of effort in whatever you do.
Key Time Recovery Steps:
- Clearly define your goals for college and force-rank.
- Strictly and aggressively plan your college schedule.
- Seek out and take the classes that get you the most out of college--with the least headache and stress.
- Break down the toughest projects into smaller chunks.
- Set deadlines well in advance and schedule backwards.
- Schedule each week into focused blocks--including fun.
- Hunt & eliminate waste in everything you do, from goofing off to working hard. Iterate.
- Say "no" to as much break-in work as you can.
- Bonus: ascend to superhuman effectiveness by learning the art of micro-efficiency.
- Learn your own brain: recognize simmering distraction and stop it in its tracks.Make distractions harder to find.
- Learn how to easily increase your willpower.
- Use spurts of focus with precise breaks to maximize effectiveness.
- Track and share progress--accountability is powerful.
- Trust your gut and stay in touch with what's important.
Some Practical Examples: How to...
- Kill the siren song of Facebook once and for all.
- Power through your mid-term paper in less than a week, end-to-end.
- Slash total reading by more than half... and retain more.
- Spend less time in the lab, writing code, or designing.
- Finish 80% of your thesis by the time you officially start.
- Take advantage of "double-dipping" in requirements to shave a semester off your degree without adding classes.
- Say "no" to unwanted work... even to your professors.
"How to Crush College" includes free downloadable tools and applications specifically designed to increase ease and clarity in the entire process.
Why do You Need IndieGoGo Funds?
So: I am done writing! The good news for you is that means you don't have to worry about whether I'll deliver.
The funding I'm raising is going to be used 100% (after costs of the campaign) for paying an editor and publisher to take this labor of love from text to book. Turns out it's very expensive!
of it (ISBNs, book cover, web page) I am planning to cover out of
pocket, but additional funds will go towards reimbursing for those,
whose costs are upwards of $550. More funding, thus, is always better.
Note! We're going full-color paperback, which will cost an additional $2700 for the first run of 100, and then prices go down after that. Further funding will help cover these expenses.
How Else Can I Help?Share, share, share. You know, the social media thing. Obviously this book isn't for everyone, but you probably know folks that are in college, or will be. What's the likelihood they'll end up in the 60% that graduate late (or the 40% that go past 6 years)? Alternatively, what would it mean to them to never have to pull an all-nighter? What would it mean to get a second major without killing themselves to do it?
In short, there are millions of folks out there that might be interested. So grab the link from way above, put it in your Facebook, Twitter, all that jazz.
You can also give me feedback in comments. I love feedback, especially the constructive kind. Something missing you want to know? Something not convincing? Tell me!
All in all: wanted to give everyone a big "thank you" so far for all the help and interest.