University Survival Kit

Scholarship Essay: A Shift Towards Originality

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I recently came across a joke I found quite amusing. It goes like this: “How did the hipster burn his tongue? …He drank his coffee before it was cool.” While this joke might be a little cheesy, it is also largely relevant. I wanted to share this joke, because I feel like it’s a good example of how our society is moving more towards originality. In today’s world, whether people want to admit it or not, hipsters are idolized. If you are unaware of what a hipster is, they are notorious for claiming to know about things before they are “cool”. They are, as some would say, “ahead of the crowd” and therefore, more original. I think that this is what people are desiring these days: to be unique. More often than not, I hear people being made fun of not for being weird or different, but for being “too mainstream”.

My generation is one that craves individuality and takes pride in not being one of the masses. With the increased importance of social media and “personal branding”, younger generations are quickly becoming obsessed with standing out. If this obsession applies to both our personal and professional lives, why then, would it not also apply to our academic lives.

It might just be the people I’ve surrounded myself with, but I’ve noticed that with each year that passes, my friends get more and more invested in their academic work. Every research project, every thesis, every presentation is something my peers are passionate about doing well. They work tirelessly to create the best work they can, and when they are finished, they are beaming with pride. Some of their works get published, while others receive awards, but regardless of the accolade achieved, the goal remains the same. There is a consistent desire to stand out and be recognized for their originality and achievement.

The next logical question would be why? Why this sudden shift towards wanting to stand out versus blending in with the crowd? My response is simple: survival. As Darwin so eloquently stated all those years ago, the explanation comes down to evolution, also known as “survival of the fittest”. While we may not be competing directly for food or water, we are competing for jobs. We all want jobs that provide us with financial security and allow us to live comfortably, and in recent years, competition for these jobs has dramatically increased. These days, there are more students going to college, earning degrees, and applying for the same jobs. With a larger pool of applicants and increased diversity in skill sets, landing those coveted jobs grows more challenging by the day.

In order to be successful in today’s society, we all need to be a little more like hipsters and strive for originality. It is no longer enough to just pass all your classes and earn a degree, we need to stand out. One way we can do that is through academic success. This means earning awards, honors, and recognition by creating work that is unique and innovative. A task that can only be achieved through a combination of creativity and dedication and not through plagiarism. The question is no longer whether or not originality will soon become a trend, because in my opinion, it already is one. In fact, I would argue that in today’s world, originality is more than just a trend, it’s survival.

That’s another wonderful work submitted to us by Nicole Pazary, an Unplag Scholarship participant. Want to read more essays? Follow this link.