Before you collect your 'A' level results this Friday...
Results day is tomorrow, and Junior College students across Singapore will head back to their alma maters to see if their two difficult years of stress and sleepless nights paid off.
I remember the terrifying day I collected my 'A' level results.
My Civics Tutor handed me the result slip with a puzzled look on her face. I had aced the subject I was weak at, but not all the subjects I was strong at.
"I also don't know what happened," she said with a slight smile, especially since it was her subject that I had gotten an "A" for.
BEFORE THE 'A'S, THE HIGHEST MARK I EVER GOT FOR THIS SUBJECT WAS STILL A FAIL.
THE IRONY? THIS WAS THE ONLY SUBJECT I ACED AT THE CAMBRIDGE EXAMS.
I went around the hall checking on my friends. My best friend who had not done as well was celebrating. Another close female friend who had done better than I did was crying outside the hall. The place was a cauldron of mixed extreme emotions.
To all my JC juniors who are about to receive your results tomorrow: whatever you get on your result slip does not determine your destiny.
I say this because I didn't do well enough to get into the university course I wanted.
To some, this might feel like the end of the world. I won't deny that while I was quite chill on results day, there were moments after when I felt really lost.
After spending two years in JC focusing on a single goal, anything less than an 'A' level certificate that would get me into a good university is easily seen as an epic failure. But success should not be seen by our entry into university.
Getting perfect scores and entering your choice uni does not mean success in life. Three to four years later, and you will see the same 'A' level aces still struggling with figuring out what to do with their lives as they approach graduation.
THE VALUE OF TWO YEARS OF EXPERIENCES AND FRIENDSHIP
CANNOT BE QUANTIFIED IN GRADES.
How about if things don't turn out well on Friday? It may feel like you've wasted two years of your life. But in the larger scheme of things, two years is not a lot of time to lose in finding your way.
For the ladies, you'll have a two-year head start over the army guys to find your life's direction. One of our post-JC interns got rejected by all the universities she applied for, but her gap year working with Youth.SG helped her secure a place in NTU the following year.
If you're a guy, you'll have many opportunities to apply for courses. I applied for the same course in NUS three times during my National Service before finally getting invited for an interview the year I ORDed.
PREACH IT DR IAN MALCOM.
Finally, this crossroad is a good time to consider some career options that you may not have thought of before. Why compete with so many people for a few jobs in industries that may not even survive your working life?
Consider the following "recession-proof" industries in need of more people: Healthcare (this field has jobs beyond being a doctor); Social Work (this sector has an annual shortfall of about 130 social workers); Defence; and Teaching (there are other paths besides MOE).
You'll never be jobless for long if you are trained in these fields, and some do not even require degrees to begin with!
All the best for tomorrow my friends, and fear not if life leads you to a path less travelled!