‘Is Success In School Really Everything?’


(By Talise Tsai)

John Adams, the second president of the United States once said, “There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.”

Ba-boom! What a proverb! If there’s one thing I could tell to all the secondary school students in the world worrying about universities, this would pretty much be it.

Life all over the world has become almost like a highway — a paved path from birth till graduation, straight to the workforce. It’s become such the social norm that to attempt the road less travelled is almost unthinkable, and in some cases punishable (truancy isn’t tolerated).

But is success in school really everything? Does the skills required to succeed in tests equate to those needed in everyday life?

In fact, one of my favourite successful “dropouts” is Walt Disney! He left school when he was 16 to join the army, but was rejected for being underage, and so left to France. Years later, after failures, he and his brother moved to Hollywood, and there begins the magic as we know it today.

Others include Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates — we all know who they are! They were able to break the status quo because they were able, creative and daring enough to follow their dreams and take advantage of their opportunities.

This isn’t to say education is bad — it most definitely isn’t! I can’t stress enough the need for academia, and it’s true that most of us probably don’t carry the creative capability and the internal strive to the extent that those successful people do. However, its importance shouldn’t overlook the need for us humans to LIVE. Sometimes we get so caught up in one aspect of success that we forget to live and just appreciate the world around us.

Students nowadays sometimes get tangled up in perfectionism and academic pursuit, and forget that there are other types of success, too. Success in school doesn’t mean success in life; the ability to memorise and synthesise knowledge doesn’t mean success physically or emotionally or socially or spiritually.

There are whole other aspects of life that we should never leave out — after all, what’s the point of learning how to make a living when there isn’t a life to make the living for?

This quote has become a life motto of sorts to me, especially in my academic pursuits. Though the future does seem daunting, I’m learning to not put all my hope in my academic career, and I’m learning to balance my work life with everything else — God, my family, my friends, my personal interests, etc. To me, happiness no longer comes directly with success — it comes with experiences, but that’s another story.

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