Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Self-Reflection: Good grades, so what?

Guest post written by Savier
The Pencil Box
In this article, I am going to briefly discuss if getting good grades is important for the future. Please allow me to start off this article by sharing some of my own personal experience.

I did not consider myself a bright student when I was young until I was Form 3 when I “accidentally” obtained the third position in class (accidentally because I am not sure how I got it - probably my classmates did pretty badly!). I felt proud of my achievement and started to become greedy. I told myself I wanted more, I wanted to be the first in the class! I began to study hard and after that incident, I aced most of my exams and passed my O level with flying colours. I was awarded the “Top in Brunei Darussalam in Accounting” by the University of Cambridge and the Ministry of Education, Brunei. That’s when I started to have the mindset that my future would be bright just by studying hard and scoring all A’s in the exams.

Self-Reflection: Good grades, so what

After my high school, I was having difficulties in deciding which university I should go to and what course to take. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have some senior friends to give me good advice and I ended up doing Engineering. One piece of advice that influenced me the most till today was a quote by one of my seniors just a few weeks before I left the country.
“Having a Ph.D doesn’t mean that you can handle the working world”
After listening to that quote, I went home and did a self-reflection. I started wondering if it was compulsory to get good grades to become successful in life. I wondered whether the things taught in the classroom would be sufficient enough for me to prepare for the future.

I realized - No! It is not compulsory for you to get good grades in order to be successful. It has been a tradition that most of our parents have high expectations on us. And because we were taught since young to get good grades, scoring A’s in examinations became a common practice for us. In my point of view, we should start changing this mindset. It is no longer relevant today. I consider myself lucky for being able to realize this early; that one does not need to be defined only by their academic performance. Look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; they didn’t need a degree to become successful. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discouraging you from furthering your studies. What I wanted to emphasize is to stop having the mindset of “Getting good grades mean you will perform well in your future career”. Instead, start finding out things that will prepare you better for your future aside from the A’s.

There must always be something that is not covered by the syllabus but is extremely important for the future; for instance, how to communicate effectively. Your language class may have taught you how to speak and write properly but communicating with people effectively is a skill that requires a lot of practice. How do you deal with your clients? You may have learned that inside the classroom for a semester or so during your undergraduate studies but is that the case in reality? Start discovering by working as a client server and see how it differs from what you have learned in class.

There are so many useful skills that you need to acquire in life and most of these will not be formally taught in class. Begin your discovering journey today and start learning by joining a club or the student council. It’s the simplest yet most efficient way for a beginner to start learning things. Try involving yourself with as many activities as possible but be sure that you pass your exams too. Try to rotate or join different clubs and see how they work and how you work with different people. As you go along, you will definitely develop yourself with skills and by then, discover what you love doing.
Most of the skills that I have today came from activities that I joined outside classes and I find them very useful. The more things you join and experience in life, the more stories you will have to talk about especially during your interview. You are competing with someone for the same position and you wouldn’t want to talk about how many A’s you got during high school. I believe your employers would strike you off from the list immediately. Impress them by telling them what you did and I believe they would love to hear what you have to say.

Read again and think about it.

Now it is 2:18 AM and it’s time for me to go to bed, we’ll talk again soon!


Savier is a Chemical Engineering student in Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus. He was a member of the Student Council in 2013 and also the one and only student representative in the Swinburne University Council 2013-2014. He is an animal lover and whenever he is free, he volunteers with the SSPCA in their adoption event, helping stray animals find new homes. He is friendly, loves talking, and exchanging ideas and experiences with people. He is a food hunter and usually goes around exploring delicious food. He is a university advocate at The Pencil Box (www.jclathepencilbox.org), a site that helps students accelerate their learning curve in university by publishing articles on self-development, leadership and creative learning.
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  1. Hi.

    I agree whole-heartedly with the fact that students need to have better skills. Thinking skills, speaking skills, writing skills, communication skills, etc - students these days definitely need to polish up on those skills. There's no point in being a smart student with a flat 4.0 GPA who is unable to speak out his mind in an articulate manner. There's no point in being a maths genius who can't speak clearly during an interview.

    And yes, getting straight A's is not compulsory for us but I do think it is important for getting scholarships right? Because they won't give you any scholarships if you're not getting straight A's in your SPM aye? Besides, most scholarships nowadays require students to get at least 7A+ for SPM. So you have to get good grades.

    But yeah, there are many smart students nowadays. You can find many students with straight A+ in SPM and you have to compete with them in order to get scholarships (well unless your parents can afford you to take A-Level, SAT, TOEFL and IELST and now I'm saying on behalf students which their parents can't afford those and scholarships are the only way to get further studies overseas).

    Well that's only a piece of my mind.


    1. Hi there,

      I'm aware that we do need to get good results in order to apply for scholarships. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging people not to score "A" in their exam. Your results will definitely be one of the criteria that your sponsor will look at when you apply for scholarship application but I believe that most of them will test you through test or interview on how relevant your "A" is. How did you get back your straight A's from? Through hard work? Through spoon-feeding? or through some less ethical way (Which might be too sensitive to discuss over here). There are so many ways of getting a "A" now. The most important thing is that how relevant or how true is the so called Straight A's results which can only be tested later on in life.

      What I am trying to emphasize in this article is more on what experience or skills that you have actually acquired and what are the important lessons that you've learned during your studies. For example, some people took 4-5 years to complete their Ph.D while some took 3 years to complete. We cannot judge from here that the latter is more successful because he completed his doctorate degree in 3 years time because what matter the most if what is their research about? How's relevant or how important their research is to our society?

      Thank you for your comment and I really appreciate it because you just gave me some idea for my next article and it will be related to "Scholarships and results".

      Cheers :)


  2. awesome article... would love to see more from you soon.. this gives me motivation to strive for a better future.

    1. Thanks and I'll take your compliment as a motivation for me to write more articles in the future.

  3. Wow, it was good advice!!! It give me a support and encouragement!! Thx a lot for sharing to us!!

  4. Dear Malaysia Student,

    I am not same like other parents. My son did not really go for tuitions since standard 1 until Form 5 today. When he was at primary school, there is a few Saturday in short time frame he been instructed by school attended the tuition class compulsory. He always find executes not to attend the class. He is always not attend the class and not doing the home work. I always been called by his teacher for enquiries.

    When he is at age of 11, he manage to do small business by selling junk foods to classmate making nearly RM500.00. He do so just want to fulfilled his target to buy a PSII games the play station.

    After he get that game, he stop selling. I am not expecting his getting good scores in the SPM examination. I let him choose his way of life but the ground rules in advance not against the illegal activities and hurt anybody especially the girls.

    My daughter(20 years old) who is self-motivates pre-university student. I also let her choose what she is want to be. She is outing, always go somewhere with her friends. She is not very good in STPM results but no bad too. She use to be working in the factory follow her aunty during school holiday since her age of 8 years old. Now she is working at Supermarket waiting the letter of notice from (unknown) University.

    Both of them know how to respect the olders, and I believe 1 day they will become somebody who is contributes to the society and I think it is enough.I satisfied with my children growth happily and always thinking positively.

    I am Form 5 student at year 1984. And started work as machine operator running shift morning and afternoon week by week after leaving the school. Today, I am working as a Manager under a Europe country employment.

    With a SPM level-Grade III certificate, my salary considered high amongst the same education level. And higher than those who work in KL big city. Because I am staying in a town only. I am not lucky in working life but I am always learn something new and self-motivate for further improvement.

    Thanks to Malaysia Student Blog. I had introduce this blog to my daughter and friends too.

  5. this give me lot of ideas on how im going to be successful person in society thank you........

  6. A very eye-opener article. I always think about this when people compliment me for achieving good results in my examinations. I was like "Oh hey so I excel at this particular subject but how relevant is it for me to survive in my working environment and future life?"

    I wish I can change myself and develop more skills but it just seems pretty difficult to execute those (especially since I'm a shy and kind of a shut-in person).


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