not just a degree anymore.

Trust me when I say there’s going to be pressure once you start university. While school was all fun and happy, college and university is a whole new level of education. People expect you to know more and not just about the subjects but also about the world, the current issues and you’re supposed to even have a certain set of skills. I was more of a mischievous and easygoing kid back when I was in school – skipping class, exploring the neighbourhood and I like to walk around and sort of you know see the world. I had no worries at all except getting good grades which was bearable as long as I work hard. Little did I know that people especially teachers and lecturers had a certain expectation once I entered college. From high school to college to university, that’s quite a transition there. Many of my friends, I remembered them telling about their struggles in coping with the transition and of course I was struggling with everything too. We were so used to reading textbooks and reference books, complete probably 50 sets of exercise books and do tonnes of past exam papers that we forget it’s not going to be that way forever. In college (although the pressure is not too much), teachers would expect you to know more about current issues not just defining terms and concepts.They expect you to learn on your own and catch up with their classes – no more spoon feed, no more reciting answers from textbook . They wanted a better answer than just that. It’s more about just a grade but actually learning and applying the knowledge we gain. The first time I realised about how I lack so many skills was when I attended my scholarship interview. It was a group interview and I think I did pretty fine but I was aware about how other candidates were able to speak confidently about so many things that I didn’t even know. They were really good and I have to admit I was very intimidated. But even then , what made me fully realise about how important transferable skills are is when I’m attending university. Yes, yes you think that uni life is all party and fun , less study more fun fun fun but I think you’ll feel the pressure. Most students will be grabbing the first chance to do something great just so they can build their CV, add their knowledge and experience and shape themselves to have a better career prospect (but they party too when they have the time). No, good academics is not the only guarantee anymore that you will secure a job. The competition is huge because everyone wants to climb the ladder ASAP , live a good life and settle down early. Employers don’t just see your degree, they see what you’ve achieved so far in your extra curricular that probably could define you as a person. They want to see what’s different about you and in what way you can contribute or how you can contribute differently to the company. It’s pretty competitive and you need good grades and good transferable skills to back you up so you get the job. Here’s a chart I got from World Economic Forum about the skills every student need in the 21st century. I find it very useful as it’s sort of  a personal skill list for me so I would like to share it with you –

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It’s obvious that literacy and numeracy is at the top on the list. I would say that foundational literacies is what you get from your academic learning but the other 2 categories is definitely not something you learn from a book. Those transferable skills are something you learn throughout the years of experience and believe me when I say, the more you participate in the things around you the more you would gain. For example some people don’t see the need to join volunteering activities because you don’t get anything out of it, but technically you do get something out of it. Probably more than you ever realised. I used to be horrible in communication. I can’t even talk or engage in a professional conversation. I had a low self-esteem or thought that my thoughts were rubbish compared to what others are thinking but getting out there, speaking and actually try to engage with people gave me that confidence to communicate. It made me different. And I think that’s how we get out of our comfort zone. One of the things I did that was impactful for me was volunteering. I volunteer a lot. Not like you know volunteer in Africa or things like that but it’s all the same. I learn to connect with different people and actually forced myself to do small talks. I’ve also seen many of my friends who’ve been actively participating in something they love and I could see the difference in them, the skills they obtained and how they mature over the years. So for those of you who are stressing a lot about getting good grades and secluding yourself just so you have all the time in the world to finish reading the whole book collection in library, give it a break. It’s good that you like to learn but it’s good to go out sometimes , mingle or challenge yourself to do something different, to be out of your shell. It helps building the skills you will definitely find handy when you’re in the working life. I wouldn’t say it’s a competition but to me it’s about self- improvement. If you can go further, improve to be better and by doing that will increase the chances of you landing an amazing job along with first class degree , I say go for it.

On a side note, for all you people who love the environment and dislike how forest burning is allowed in Indonesia every year here’s a petition that you can sign so we can make a difference , give pressure to the companies involved and hope that something will be done so we can put an end to it. No more haze or drastic climate change. You’ll be surprised to see what companies are involved in this and how they’ve been ignorant over the years. Join over 200,000 people and sign the petition. You might think that it won’t make a difference, but every effort counts. It is what it takes to change.

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