life is not all about grades

A long overdued entry, but here it is…

A friend posted a sad piece of news on Facebook some time ago. It’s about a straight A student who committed suicide over two Bs in her O’levels. Shortly after her death, her mother followed suit and committed suicide as well.

I’m not going to retell the whole story as you can click on the link to read the full article, but I will share my thoughts on it. My first reaction was “Two Bs and she got so upset? Oh my, she really shouldn’t have.” Grades aren’t everything. Sure, good grades perhaps pave a better way towards a successful career that’s characterised with high pay and impressive titles, but who really knows what the future holds? At 16, do you even know what you want to do in the future?

Grades and Life

I use myself as an example. I scored three Bs and four Cs in my O’levels which meant I could not even smell the air of Junior College. That was alright since I already set my mind on studying in a polytechnic. Three years of polytechnic flew past and I scored mediocre grades. Not good enough for a local university, but I got a place in US college. Fair enough again since I never really wanted to attend a local university and I was lucky that my family could afford sending me overseas. Four years apart from my family in an unfamiliar country really opened my eyes. There was a pressure to do well as most of the other Singaporeans in the college were on scholarship and were expected to score a high GPA. I took that as motivation to study hard and finally earned a degree with honours. Of course, that degree got me a good and well-paying job. After two years, I quit and became a homemaker.

Moral of the story? I scored shit grades for O’levels and an average GPA in polytechnic, yet I managed to get to college and earn a degree with honours. So what? After that, I still ended up being a homemaker. Grades do matter a little, but they don’t write your life. Life is about the choices you make and the experiences you learn from. There are so many things that cannot be taught from books but must be learnt through experience. Do I regret my decisions in life? Maybe a little…definitely could have put in more effort in studying a lot earlier. But do I regret how my life has turned out? No. I have chosen this path to walk in life and along the way I’ve learnt so many things. These experiences become a part a me and shape who I am.

Many a time I’ve overheard students telling their friends that their parents expect them to end up with at least a Master’s degree. Are you even sure that’s what you want for yourself? Or is that just your parents’ wishes? Having a goal in life and working towards it is good, but you must be aware that there can be changes along the way. Again, no one knows what the future holds. Your thoughts may change due to whatever reason and you divert from your original path. And who’s to say this diversion is not good?

Kiasu Parenting

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. You hear of parents sending their two or three-year-olds for this and that enrichment class. Then, you hear of students going for two tuition sessions for the same subject. Parents, are you raising kids or zombies? Is all this really necessary? You didn’t go through this kind of childhood and you turned out fine, didn’t you?

If you think about it carefully, it again goes back to what characterises your life? Only grades? Or more than that?

As a mum-to-be, I can only say that I hope that my child does well in all aspects of life and not just be book smart. The last I want is a child that answers “studyyyyy~~~” like a robot when someone asks him/her what he/she does in his/her free time. (True story, by the way.)

While parents can hope that their child excels in everything, you should know by now that every kid is different. Each person has his strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same for education. Some have the aptitude for academics, others don’t. As parents, you can give your child a little push to make sure he doesn’t play too much and neglect his studies, but you shouldn’t go overboard. Everyone has a breaking point and you really don’t want your child (or even yourself) to reach that.

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