It was the day when our results were going to be released. Despite my lack of effort during the entire course, I was still hoping for the best, hoping that I will strike a 1st class honours. But it didn’t happen, I got myself a 2nd upper, good enough actually, for my standard.
I still remember the look on some of my friends’ face, those who got 1st class were having the “I can now conquer the world” look, those who didn’t get what they thought they were getting were having the “my world has come to an end” look, this category usually comprises of nerds or kiasu-being who were aiming for 1st class honours but only managed 2nd upper or 2nd lower. No, I was NOT one of them. They will probably never understand why those who got a 3rd class or even a general degree (i.e. with no honours) were carrying a “Yessss, I did it!!!” expression on their face. They were probably thinking “this bunch of idiots (referring to those who got 3rd class / general degree) just wasted their parents’ hard earned money”. To be really honest with you, I was not that far away from that school of thoughts.
Take this guy called Naz for example. He practically spent almost all his days in London smoking his life away, skipped classes as often as he smokes, played football at every opportunity (hehe, I was also part of this football thing) and others which I thought never contribute much to his studies. Fair enough, he got himself a general degree. Many thought he will probably struggle his way in life. Some probably thought his world has practically ended, struggling would be a privilege. But did his life ended that day?
News came in from Manchester where 2 of my best friends also gotten their results. One of them got a 2nd upper as expected. But for it was not so good news for the other guy, Edward, who only managed a 2nd lower. You see, 3 of us, we were amongst the top notch people from our school (trying to blow my own trumpets here… hehe). To us, and to probably most results driven students, anything besides a 1st class or 2nd upper means nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. To Ed, his life has probably just ended, he had probably just “failed” his family and wasted all his years in university. Many thought he will probably struggle to secure a job because he will need to compete with hundreds and thousands of graduates out there who obtained better grades than him. If a 2nd lower is going to have such fate, what about Naz who only got a general degree?
That was about 7 years ago, while I still keep close contact with Ed, I have totally lost touch with Naz, until December 2005. I was at the Jabatan Pendaftaran office at Putrajaya, amongst the last legion of people trying to make the great MyKad before government starts charging. Despite the imminent charge, I wouldn’t have bothered if not because I was about to leave the country for what I thought would be a substantial period of time. It was there that I bumped into Naz, he was carrying a baby, the baby is his. Naz is now married with a lovely lady, blessed with a beautiful child. He is working with a local firm which allowed him to take his whole family there on that weekday to do his MyKad. The person whom many thought would probably struggle to support himself is now married with a kid! Looks like his life didn’t end after all.
What happened to Ed? Well, to cut the long story short, Ed is also married to a lovely wife. He is sort of having his own business, staying in his own apartment, owns 2 properties and is looking at buying a shoplot. He also plans to purchase a place in Australia because his long term plan is to migrate there. The phrase “struggling to make a living” will probably not be found in his dictionary. He also has a lot of free time past office hour, a luxury to many of us. His life didn’t end on that fateful day too!
Many of us graduated from university thinking that we will rule the world. If we came through the gate of a prestigious overseas uni, we think we are a class above the rest. Many my uni-mates wanted to become CEOs of big firms. Some wanted to be at the top of the corporate ladder within the shortest time, be up there making the so called “big decisions”. Thousands of graduates get out from uni thinking probably the same thing. But the reality is this, the position of CEOs and Managing Directors all most, if not all the firms in the country have already been taken. Some probably are at the age of 35 which means it till be another 20 years before they retire. That position will probably be taken by someone, and that someone may not be you.
On the bright side, for those who did not do too well in their studies, their world has not come to an end. Getting a not so good degree and graduating from a local institution does not mean they will lose out to a lot of people. The future is always uncertain, which makes it exciting. 5 years down the road, these people may have achieved what they want in their life. Those CEOs wannabe will probably still be climbing the ladder.
I am pretty sure many of us have heard the phrase “A degree is just a ticket to the working world”. We all know it and agree to it. However, how much do we understand that phrase? We probably fail to comprehend the true meaning of “a ticket”, or probably fail to grasp the true meaning of “the working world”.
The truth is, a 3rd class or general tickets doesn’t mean you will be not able to board the “plane of life”, while 1st class tickets doesn’t guarantee 1st class seats. You might miss out on your preferred “airlines” but never fret, how high your plane of life can fly and whether it will reach your destination, is often entirely up to you.
So, is your “seat” right now reflective of the ticket you’re carrying?
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