Daily Prompt – Degree

IMG_1310.JPGIf you were in Singapore and you associate yourself with a degree, the most common and obvious thing that Singaporeans would ask is: You have a university degree? From where?

It gets very frustrating at times because not everyone wants to be associated to a piece of paper that you get at the end of 4/5 years of this thing called higher or tertiary education. For me, I definitely do not want to be constantly being reminded of the fact that I come from a very good university (whose rankings are really debatable, at the very least) and I’m studying this cool major called Sociology. Ah… okay no, I want to be associated with Sociology, but I’m not that smart.

I still remember my first few weeks in university and those experiences were borderline scary and hilarious. The first few questions would go like this, after you ask for a fresh face’s name.

“You from JC or poly?” (Which school track did you come from – junior college or polytechnic?)

“Your subject combi is what?” (If one was from the junior college track)

“What was your major ah?” (If one was from the polytechnic track)

“What’s your points?” (For those junior college kids – this referred to the points attached to a certain grade. Getting an A was worth 20 points, all the way to U, which was obviously 0)

Thinking about it made me feel like,… what’s the point, you know? I happily declared what my grades were in an old post. I was proud of my grades back then. Because I managed to get into university. The whole optimistic thing would probably be different non-existent if I hadn’t successfully gotten an entry to a local university.

Even now, those questions are crafted differently. Of course, the worst ones were from those who dared to ask:

“What is your GPA (grade point average)?”

As I used to have this optimistic flowery mindset, I found no fault to reveal my own GPA until… my grades became quite low and I wasn’t proud of it at all. Because GPA largely depicts the probability of getting an interview for a job. So I see why people who incessantly asked about GPA were seen as assholes.

But this fixation on grades still scares me to this day. As much as possible, I am trying to build my skills beyond the boundaries of academics. Funnily enough, I am still tested on how well I do things. It just seems that everything we invest our time in, be it a sport, a skill, a hobby… is often graded according to this invisible standards that we deem as good.

Here’s to those who think that Asians are gods – we have insecurities too. I’m one of those. Ha ha ha…

I suppose it is just human nature to pit people against people or themselves. It just gets hella competitive and annoying.

I mean, that association of degree to academics is just fine… I can’t expect degree to mean like, “how hot are you?”. But if you’re talking about Singapore, or maybe any of those education-giant countries like China, Korea and Japan, then it is really unfortunate that we take only one definition of degree.

Unless you’re a chef or you’re doing angles in Mathematics.


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