How Important Are Grades?

Recently, there was an article that showed a teenage girl, a straight A student from a well known school, committed suicide after achieving two Bs in her ‘O’ Levels.

To make things worst, her mother committed suicide three months later and her father was left mentally unstable. This aftershock of the collapse of the family was felt by her grandmother.

While it is tragic, this incident has exposed a crack in our robust education system and open the floodgates of issues that we have been trying to ignore, or at best, fix.

Today, my feature writing lecturer told us a story of how a senior of mine, a GPA 4.0 student, failed two entry test when he was applying for his internship. Despite appeals by lecturers, citing his excellent academic record, he was rejected for being “useless”.

In a society where A’s and distinctions are valued more than real learning, we are faced with a question that needs some answers real fast. 

Today’s society is dynamic. Trends have a short shelf life in today’s ever changing and interconnected social digital world. One moment you’re in, and the next, you’re out. 

A paper qualification can get you in, but it’s absolutely useless if you want to survive, much less to thrive. 

I have to admit, the Singaporean government has been trying their very best to prove that you don’t need to have stellar academic results or a prestigious degree to be successful. 

The difference in Polytechnic and Degree graduates pay scales has been narrowed down and Polytechnic graduates no longer have a ‘celling’ in their career path and could have just as a fulfilling career as their degree counterparts.

While some people still argue that degree holders have higher starting pay, they fail to see the subtle yet powerful changes we are trying to make. 

Yes, a degree will warrant a higher starting pay and position, but it does not give you much of a head start over your counterparts who enter the industry with a diploma. 

I once read somewhere that whether you have GPA 4.0 or GPA 0.4, we will all end up in same place – the graveyard.

At the end of the day, people need to see that it is not the end of the world if have a B, C, D, E, or an F on your report card. 

We need to see that it’s not about how we failed at one point of our life, but how we get up and grow stronger after each failure.

Remember, in the end, what matters the most is what you did with your life and not what exams you did well in. 

Because, as they say, failure is the mother of success.

[Cover Photo by LIM MU YAO]


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