Am already so stressed studying for the 'O' Levels, how to survive JC? (Response A)

This query comes from a student:

I am 16 and finished my 'O' levels this year. During this year, I guessed I studied too hard and because of the immense amount of stress, I suffered 2 mental breakdowns. During one episode, I kept crying non-stop, and my mum had to bring in a psychiatrist.

I really want to go to a JC next year, but I have heard from my seniors horror stories of how much worse life is in JC. I am unsure if I can endure 2 more years of hell given my current state. What if I score poorly for the 'A' levels and cannot enter a local University? What should I do?

The Response:


Given what you have described you may want to consider other options besides JC. Don’t pursue things in life just because it is “the in thing to do” from the perspective of the majority. Find something you enjoy doing that can lead to making a good living. Another path to University is the foundation year programs where you do one year and then apply to University rather than completing two in JC. If traveling overseas is an option for you, there are plenty of places to study that are not so JC focused with their admissions policies.

Every year I see students in JC taking a certain subject just because the conventional wisdom says that is the best combination – not because they like those subjects or are any good at them. And there they struggle with something they will never do again in their lives. There are plenty of other pursuits in life that are more appropriate for many students. I know plenty of very successful and very happy people who are not academically inclined.

Whatever path you choose for future education, do it because you have an interest in that area and like that area. Do it for the enjoyment of learning. Do the best you can on your tests, but don’t stress out over exams. Now is the time to explore your options and find something you are good at that can earn you a decent living and that you enjoy doing. At age 16 you may not yet have found what you are really good at. Allow yourself time to discover that. Don't be anxious, do the best you can when you try something; explore, and subsequently decide what's best for you.

Best wishes,

Dr Daniel Milton Oman

(Senior Councilor: May 2013 - December 2018)

Answered On 28 December 2014