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Of grades and warts April 15, 2016

Posted by blith3 in Uncategorized.

Since Day One of graduate school, “Grades don’t matter”  has been the mantra drilled into us by the professors, faculty members and alumni. In addition, there’s also been some variation of…”The worse you will ever get is a B+” or “All that is important is the capital accumulation.”

Of course, as any student from Asia will tell you…that’s impossible. How can you confidently accumulate knowledge, but fare horribly on tests? It just doesn’t make sense. To know something, is to explain and apply the concepts or theory when asked.

Only…I am 33-years-old, unused to having to explain academic concepts after so long and totally flabbergasted by the American situational-style of questioning. And let’s not factor in that there is always that one professor each semester that expects you to churn out answers just like him that reading his answer keys makes your head spin.

Suffice it to say that I have been consistently disappointed with my test scores. For two semesters, I have turned in quality papers and problem sets – but have been completely tanking my tests. And I mean completely. My primary, secondary and undergraduate selves would be horrified to know that they turned out this way.

And here is now where – to borrow a hot phrase among my American friends – I check my privilege. I suppose this inability to push myself that much more – and for the record, I already spend most of my time working on just keeping up with the workload and these crazy 20-something youngsters who are nearly a decade younger than me – is likely influenced by the fact that I have a secure job waiting for me back home. Yes, I want to do well in class. Yes, I’d like to be technically sound. And yes, the things I have learned over the past year are useful and have definitely changed my views about how I approach my work.

It’s just that…I also know that balance is key. Although I am back in school, I know that there are other lessons in life that I am suppose to learn, beyond what is in the classroom. Also, I am no longer the same youngster who prioritises studies above all else. Being half a globe away from family and close friends, I have learned to take the time out to take care of – both physically and emotionally – myself and the people close to my heart. And I can do this because my career prospects are not purely dependent on my academic grades. For the past 10 years, I have worked my butt off and sacrificed parts of myself (some of which I am unable to retrieve) to the rat race. It is my privilege and it is also my flaw – and I own that.

So truly, “grades don’t matter”. What does matter is putting your best foot forward everyday and making peace with what is right for you, warts and all.



1. Stephanie Goh - April 15, 2016

I’m proud of you!!! It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in when there’s so much societal pressure for us to “have it all”.

You go, girl!! 👏👏👏

PS. Yes, knowing you have a secure job to come home to does help! 😉

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