I was finishing my Bachelor’s degree and I was considering to do a Master’s degree when I was 22. There were two options to do a Master’s degree at my uni at that time: one was a ‘free ride’, if my undergrad overall academic ranking was within top 5% band of the graduation class; the other was to go through an exam in which I needed to compete with other students for a place. My uni was the top uni in Taiwan, National Taiwan University, so a lot of students would spend hell lots of time to prepare for such an exam in order to get in.
My overall academic ranking at that time was great but I just missed the 5% by a tiny little margin. Literally, I was the first person just outside the 5% margin! I spent weeks whinging about this tiny little ‘margin’, blaming myself (could have worked just 1% harder!) and of course, blaming other people too (trust me, it’s a lot easier to blame other people on your failure!).
Quickly, I realised that it didn’t help whinge about things because life goes on no matter what. So, I spent four months to prepare for the postgrad entrance exam and eventually, I got into the grad school of the top uni. I was happy, of course! ^_<
Did the little margin define me or define my life? No, it didn’t. It simply showed me another ‘path’ to achieve the same goal. Would I be better of if I got the ‘free ticket’ to go to the grad school? I doubt. Most people who got the ‘free ticket’ spent the time enjoying their lives during that four-month period while waiting to go to the grad school. I reckon I gained more because I missed the ‘free ride’.
I had a wonderful student this year who just finished her undergrad and she was in the same situation as I was before. I told her: there is nothing I can do to change her final mark so to “bump” her average mark from 74.9 to 75.1; there is almost no difference between 74.9 and 75 after rounding the number. Obviously, the university doesn’t round the final average, so the student will still have 74.9 shown on her final transcript with a ‘Pass’ average mark. If she got 75.1, then the final average mark would be ‘Distinction’; sound like a hell lot of difference!
The good thing was that this student didn’t whinge as I did and she was back to her happy self quickly afterwards. No, the 74.9 average didn’t define you, J. It only showed you a different path in your life and it also opened a new window for you. You go on and define yourself, J; show the world that you are hell lots better than 74.9! ^_^
Dr. C. Richie Wu @ REEA Consulting
(This blog is dedicated to my lovely student, J. who had the biggest smile in the class! Keep going, J. You are on the right path to a brilliant life.)