Before I dwell on this little piece of writing, I should tell you about my own education. I grew up in Germany and completed primary school there before moving to Malaysia and completing my SPM at MRSM Pengkalan Chepa. I did well in school, mostly As, was awarded multiple scholarships with my trial-SPM results, and graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Economics from Northeastern University, Boston Massachusettes, USA. But I had a good balance growing up – sports, friends, and was not what you would call a “skema” kid.
Belajar, belajar, belajar
That’s pretty much the call (direct or indirectly) from Malaysian teachers throughout someone’s education here in Malaysia. So much pressure is exerted on academics, that extracurricular activities are often overlooked and are merely “cukup syarat”.
Although people talk about developing your social and soft-skills, where can a kid actually develop the skills? From books? Hardly.
On a positive note, there’s no doubt that Malaysian graduates are book-smart but if you sit down a top-student Malaysian SPM grad together in a room with, say American grads with average grades, that Malaysian kid will probably not contribute much to the conversation because he/she probably lacks certain street skills that overseas kids learn throughout their lives.
Education is important but not everything
Sure education is important but it definitely is not everything. Good grades will carry you through school/college/university until you get a job interview. This is where the problems for most local Malaysian grads start.
They tend to lack confidence, have little actual experience, and have no idea how to sell themselves.
In reality, no one will hire you if you can’t give them enough reason to hire you. Working life is not about solving book problems based on the theory. It ought to be about solving problems based on a combination of theory and real (practice). You need both!
Get a balanced education
If you are in school now and reading this, please do not throw away your books. You need balance. The balance between academics, grades, sports, social life, and be happy. You are only going to be this young once. Don’t “waste” it.
Know your strengths
Look at the jocks and the “lazy kids” that seem to have a lot of fun in school. Think they will not succeed in life? It depends. They perhaps may lack perfect grades but they sure have a lot of drive, drive and sure enjoy life. They are risk-takers and perhaps someday will make a good businessman or be able to lead people with their drive, easy-going spirit, or charisma.
Study Smart. Don’t merely go with the flow. Don’t be afraid to be different and find yourself. We are all different. There are 1001 ways to succeed in life, getting A1’s in an exam doesn’t mean much…failing to do so also doesn’t mean much.
End of the day success or failure is in your hands NOT in an exam or test! Most importantly, you define your own definition of success. It is your life. Is it Suka Hati Kau.