Many people have the ideal that GEP/Elite School students will be high-flyers in the future.
While it may be true for many, there are also students who did not fare so well, and felt like they are a disappointment to their parents & society.
This article was inspired from a Reddit thread (08 Oct 2018) on how Ex-Elite School/GEP students are doing currently, and will mainly focus on the less rosy side of things.
(This article is Part 1 of our Series of “Where Are They Now?”)
In one comment, one user wrote how he interacted with former RI/RGS/RJC/GEP students, and the guilt they feel because they didn’t become a lawyer/doctor/banker, having some kind of pre-destined high-flying career.
Many people associate academic background with financial success/freedom, that being in GEP/Elite Schools automatically guarantees them success in their careers.
This assumption can never be more wrong.
Below are some stories from Ex-GEP/Elite School students from the Reddit thread, on what they are doing with their Life.
(a) Still in Polytechnic
One user (ex-GEP) describes having spent 5 years dropping out of Schools because of “shitty work ethic and high expectations” of himself.
Sometimes the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) does not end well.
The “fact” that is being drilled in GEP students that they are the cream of the crop; better than your peers, by Parents and society leads to extremely high expectations.
And when expectations are not met, it can lead to mental breakdowns like the above – giving up altogether.
Having healthy expectations is incredibly important, expecting to do well in every aspect of Life will really take its toll on you.
(b) Flunked A’Levels
Another user from Raffles Girls’ School describes having flunked A Levels.
For A Level graduates, most students will go on to local and overseas Universities. For those that did not fare well, it is a less rosy path.
Most will either retake A Levels, go to Private Universities, or move on to Polytechnic.
It is ostensibly hard landing a Full-time job with only an A Level certificate – only academically trained, not trained in technical skill sets/work skills.
If you find that you are flunking exams after exams in an IP School, consider dropping out of IP to take O Levels instead – you can move on to Polytechnic or JC if you feel able to handle a much harder O Levels.
(c) Barely Passed A’Levels
A second user from an IP School (thru-train, no O Levels) flunked her A Levels as well, although had plans to get a degree.
She left the Overseas University as her B.Eng programme was extended from 4 to 4.5 years, and tuition fees raised by 10% – unlike local Universities that ‘lock in’ school fees from when you enroll.
The cost of Overseas Universities is up in the hundreds of thousands.
For example, pursuing Medicine overseas can easily rake up $300-500k in debt – certainly not possible for middle/low income families. (See: Tutor Salary, 2019)
Pursuing more common degrees overseas such as Life Science or General Engineering in non-Ivy-League Universities, is not ideal as well.
Imagine accumulating $100-300k in debt, at 5% interest per annum, for an average paying job of 3k.
It may be a smarter choice to work first, then a part-time local degree (hopefully sponsored by the Company), for those who did not do as well.
(d) Finished PhD, doing Research
Special case: there are also a few lamenting how they felt like they disappointed their Parents, or their Parents are disappointed in them – even though they have a Doctorate.
All because they did not become a doctor/lawyer/banker, choosing to pursue academia instead.
This is an exceptional case however, which truly shows one can never fully satisfy all expectations.
Academic Background =/= Success
The gist of it is, your income level/success has very little to do with your academic background.
That isn’t how the real world works.
One can be identified as high ability or high IQ early on, but that does not guarantee academic/financial success without hardwork as well.
Fulfillment is Success
One of my closest friends was a former RI/RJC student and a scholar.
He felt miserable for so long until he finally found his calling as an entrepreneur in his late 30’s.
He expressed feelings of leveling up the wrong skills when he was young like misplaying an RPG character.
Now that he made the switch, I can see from his face and his demeanor how much happier he feels now. And that path only came about because he let go of his perfectionist expectations.
A golden nugget (by u/xorandor): Feeling fulfilled has little to do with the money you make anyway – feeling useful in your contribution to the world is more important.
And sometimes, that can have nothing to do with how you make money.
Once you can make peace with yourself and change your expectations and shed the ball and chain of carrying the GEP/Elite badge, you become free to choose, free to really live.