What I mean by bad O-level results is that you neither qualify for JC nor Poly. And like I’ve said elsewhere, it’s ok if you cried at first, because chances are, you are below 21 and legally, you are still a child (I had a 43 yr old O-Level student once though). But let your sadness be for just one day, and no more after that. The past is over. You cannot change it, but you can still influence your future.
What to do (and what not to do) if your O-level results are bad:
(1) Do not blame others. The first step in making any kind of improvement to yourself is not to blame your teachers, your tutors, your textbooks and certainly not your pet who once chewed up your homework (or so you claimed). Blame yourself. It was YOUR show. Only YOU can fail your self and only YOU can make your self succeed. Got it? Thank you.
(2) Reflect on yourself. What went wrong – your lack of revision, your poor time-management, your addiction to computer games etc.?
(3) Search and find your true self. What are your real interests? What is your passion? Maybe you are not the type to just sit still and study? Maybe you have real talent in Music or the Arts instead?
(4) Plan your next course of action. What can you do with poor O-level results? Here are some options:
(a) Redo your O-levels. If you are below a certain age (check with the MOE), you can redo it in your sec school; you’d still need the right environment and the support. But if you dislike the teachers in your former school, then you either self-study (but don’t forget to register for the O-levels), get tuition, or enrol yourself in a private school or private education programme such as the Singapore Learner Academy. But re-taking O-levels will not bear fruit unless you do steps (2) and (3) above properly; if you continue your bad habits and bad strategies or you simply did not like the subjects you were taking, it’d be very hard for you to be self-disciplined and to maintain focus. You don’t get different results by doing the same things the same way over and over again (in fact, Einstein called that kind of expectation, “insanity”).
(b) Apply to the ITE. No, it’s not The End. But what course to do at the ITE? Don’t go to the ITE with the aim of working for someone later in life. Instead, go to the ITE in order to pick up a skill that will allow you to set up your own business. So what technical skills are good for business? What can you find in all homes and buildings that no ordinary person can install or repair? I can think of three: air-cons, electrical wiring and water pipes. In fact, you need a license from the government in order to do electrical wiring or plumbing work. Some day, you can become the owner or managing director of an electrical or plumbing company. Or you can migrate to Europe, America or Australia which are all in need of skilled personnel, instead of university graduates. And talking about skilled work or migration, don’t ignore nursing as a career. The thing is, don’t be lazy. And have some courage.
(c) If you are very very talented in some sport, music or the arts, apply to a school catering to such talent whether local or overseas (which might be more forgiving of your past). Or try to catch attention by posting a video of your gig on Youtube. Ask Bieber and Psy what happened to them. And some day, Jack Neo might come looking for you …. The thing is, don’t be lazy. And have some courage.
(d) Work first to get some experience of what you like doing. It would be good if you can be an apprentice in some place where there is skilled work, such as in a spectacle shop, watch shop, jewellery shop, air-con repair shop, bakery etc.
(e) If you are eligible for NS, do NS. Who knows, you might actually like working in the armed services, where food, clothing and accommodation (and even car park lots) are provided free. Before you think I’m crazy, why not you add up the total of cost of food, clothing and accommodation for some 30 years of work!
(f) Set up a business. No, you are not too young to set up a business. In fact, you can be a millionaire by the time you are 21. Do an online, e-commerce business, or simply a popular website that companies are dying to advertise in. The thing is, don’t be lazy. And have some courage.
(g) Apply to do a diploma or even a degree in a private school here, such as SIM. However, such a diploma or degree may not be recognised by the Singapore government for employment purposes in public service or even in govt-linked companies such as SIA or Singtel. And schools like SIM may require you to first complete a foundation course before you can be enrolled in a diploma or degree course. I know many students who have done poorly at the O-Levels will choose this option, because it makes them feel better this way, even if the diploma or degree is an external one, but let me tell you one thing – if you didn’t get 5 O-Level passes including passes in English and Math, it might come back to haunt you some day, because I’ve met adults who can’t be promoted or can’t change their jobs because of their grades at O-levels.
(5) Take action. Strategise. Gather resources. Believe in youself and your abilities. Adopt the right values and attitude. Set your short-term and long-term goals clearly. Write these down somewhere. Be positive, and be with positive people.
You see, there are so many ways to move on. Do not let setbacks affect you too much. Pick up and join back the pieces. Get up if you are down. Spend time with your loved ones. Remember these lines from Miley Cyrus’ song (if you don’t hate her of course):
“But I gotta keep tryin’. Gotta keep my head held high. There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side. It’s the climb.”
Do not worry about being left behind as your friends move forward. Chances are, you are going to live for another 60 years or so. When you look back someday, it wouldn’t matter that you ‘lost’ one or two years somewhere along the way. Setbacks happen to everybody; I had my fair share of failures and setbacks. How we respond to these setbacks matter.
If you still feel down, then please watch this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOlTdkYXuzE. It might help you a bit. : )
Good luck and take care. : )
By EX-MOE TEACHERS & EXPERIENCED TUTORS
@ BLK 644, BUKIT BATOK CENTRAL, #01-68. S(650644).
CALL 65694897 OR SMS 98530744 OR 97860411.