Dear O Level Grads, – by Pastor Shirley

by Y-Hope on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 10:33pm
[shuyi: a message from the youth pastor in my church. I wished I had this advice when I was 16. :)]

What a roller-coaster day for you, huh. Many years ago, just like you, I opened that slip and let out a mix of a groan and a sigh. My results were both expectedly bad and unexpectedly good.

It was expectedly bad because I had known, halfway during Sec 3, that I was in the wrong Stream. At the end of Sec 2, I had done well enough to go into Science Stream and so I did – because in those days if you qualified yet didn’t go for it, you must’ve been nuts. But after numerous HUH moments during Physics, Chem & A Maths lessons, and the countless times I borrowed my friend’s Lit and History textbooks for light reading, I knew that I was on the wrong side of the road. So when I saw Cs for those subjects, no surprises there.

On the other hand, my results were also unexpectedly good. Despite struggling with some subjects and with myself (procrastinate, repent, study, procrastinate, repent… the cycle went on), I did better than expected in the two languages, E Maths (do u guys still call it that??) & Geog. There were stuff I couldn’t help but to give thanks for: that I could even have the chance to take Os (family finances weren’t great and I almost had to leave Spore), that thru O Level year I grew so much closer to God, and that from that point onwards, I could study WHATEVER I WANT. HAH.

So though my aggregate could take me to some JCs (not RJ obviously, Pulau Ubin JC kind la lol), this time I didn’t ‘just do it’. Instead, I took it up to God. I fasted and prayed. I wasn’t asking him to magically highlight the school/course I should go to. Rather, I was praying for my own heart to be reliant on God, wherever I was gonna end up in. At the end of the day, I chose to take up Mass Communication in NP where I learned the most crucial life skill – the art of not sleeping for 3 days straight and bathing in school toilet when your crazy deadlines don’t allow you to go home.

But this post is not about which is better, JC/Poly/ITE/Engineering/Nursing/Gardening/etc. At the end of the day, this is about you and the choices you have to make. And as someone who have been in youth ministry for years, seeing so many O/A Level grads making decisions – some superb, some so terribly unwise that they had to pay 2-3 hellish school years for it – I’d like to share some pieces of advice:

* Choose thankfulness.

Replaying 101 scenes of “if only…”, “could’ve been…” or “just bit more…” will in no way help your decision-making or make you happier. Choose to count your blessings. And if you did well, remember to thank God and the people who helped you, too.

* Choose long-term perspective.

Frankly, O Level is only important for you at this crossroad. I lost my O Level Cert when I was 19 but NO ONE ever asked for it – not the company where I was applying job, not the Uni I applied for, no one! So it’s not so much about your O grades as it’s about what you do with it. As long as you make the right decision this time, you’ll be on the right track.

* Choose according to how God has wired you.

I’ve heard people saying, “I chose SAJC because of the uniform” or “TP looks haps so I’ll go there”. Okay, seriously? Really, guys, seriously? We’re not talking about 2-week holiday here. We’re talking about stuff you’re gonna study for about 5000 hours for the next 2-3 years. Instead of checking out the canteen (tho important), there are more important questions such as:

– What are the stuff you LOVE learning?

Are you a science/arts guy? Often fascinated with how things are built? Or an otaku who programs your own robot cat?

– What are the stuff you totally HATE?

I once considered taking MSc in Management – until I found out it requires A Level kinda Maths. FYI I scored 7/100 for my A Maths mid-year. So as cool as MSc in Management sounds, I wouldn’t do well in it cos I’d rather study Russian than Maths all over again.

– Recognise your learning style

If you loathe writing essays and prefer hands-on learning, poly or ite seems good for you. If you have not determined what you want to specialise in, JC is a good place to continue studying general subjects before choosing your major in Uni. If you want to take A Level but study better when you have more time to absorb, MI is an option. Make full of use of your learning style so that you’ll enjoy studying, not just survive it.

– Ask people who know you!

If you tell your friends that you want to study Apparel Design and they laugh, “But you have no fashion sense!”, listen to them!! Especially friends/mentors who know you for long and genuinely care about you. They may be too nice to say, “You’ll never make a good early childhood teacher,” so instead you can ask, “On the scale of 1 to 10, how well do you think I can relate to kids?” If they recognise your talent/passion in what you want to study, that’s a very positive sign!

– Ask people who are in that school/course

We have a big church with people who are (or know others) in the school/course you want to go to. Talk to them. Ask them what you can expect to learn, in what kind of environment, etc. Ask them if they’d recommend you going to that school/course. Ask more than one person to get a balanced view.

For more thorough advices, do talk to your shepherd/leaders so that they can pray for you and give good counsel where needed. Last but not least, remember that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding (Psalm 111:10). So continue to put God at the centre of your life and decisions, and you will be on the right path!

P.S. OMG I didnt realise I’ve written this much! MOE should pay me lor… LOL!