Might end up spending 5 years studying in Millennia Institute (MI), feeling very worried (Response B)

This query comes from a student:

I am currently in Millennia Institute (MI) pursuing the 3 year 'A' level course, fyi the school permits students to repeat once each year for their first 2 years there. Well I was already retained previously in J1, and since I have been scoring mostly U grades once more for most of the major assessments in J2, it means I will most likely get retained yet again. If (a big IF) I succeed in getting promoted to J3 eventually, I would been stuck in the same place for 5 whole years!!!!!!

Should I just quit now altogether and study elsewhere instead, say a polytechnic? Honestly I am very, very worried about having wasted an obscene amount of time compared to my peers with nothing to show for in the end if I hung around and screw up my 'A' levels......:( What should I do? Please do kindly advise, thanks.

The Response:


You're already displaying a proper sense of maturity as far as knowing how to place a premium on time is concerned, a personal attribute unfortunately most adults and even the elderly lack.

Some only realized that they are in the wrong course of study when they are almost about to graduate with their Bachelor degrees. A peer I personally knew withdrew from his Pharmacy course during his 3rd year of study in NUS....and that happened almost 20 years ago, when academic curricula back then was believed to be far less rigorous. So what do you think about his initial decision to read Pharmacy in the first place?

I know of adults who sign up for a learning course or vocation, more due to pride and concerned about what others think about them, than because it is truly aligned with their personal values and interests. A relative of mine whom I've known since she was a rich and tardy primary school kid, eventually majored in Arts and Social Sciences. I am inclined to believe she chose the course not owing to her personal interest, but because that was the only available option if she wanted to gain entry into NUS based on her poor 'A' level grades (I need to make clear however that there are also students with excellent 'A' level results who choose to pursue the Arts and Social Sciences due to personal convictions and also possess keen determination to effect positive changes on society). She did not worry much despite being jobless for a year or so after graduation, as she could still continue living in a condominium and be chauffeured around in her dad's car. Instead it was her mum who ended up panicking. Last thing I heard about her was she switched jobs yet again...seeking employment in a field not really related to her university studies. So what went wrong?

If 5 years spent studying in a pre-university are construed as having been 'wasted', what about those (who reckoned that they have chosen the wrong university major) being stuck in the wrong job for years? For others, even after investing more than 30 years in a career they are passionate in, ongoing government policies favouring automation and foreign talents have replaced them easily.

May I humbly offer the following guidelines for your personal consultation:

• One needs to have a good sense of direction and know he/she is headed in life right now (One convenient way to uncover that, is by discerning the activities consume the greatest amount of time on the useful yet treacherous handphone)

• Life is not about not making mistakes, avoiding repeating a year or two in a pre-U or scoring 'U's. I have failed Biology tests as a student too. Recovering from failure can strengthen the moral fibre and build empathy. Thus, life is more about reflecting on why one did not fulfill his/her potential at certain junctures, and thereafter striving to improve accordingly!

• Reinvent yourself periodically by taking time to reflect (Minimize usage of the handphone; it retards folks considerably and has been proven to reduce IQ scores). Consider aiming for an ultimately fulfiling vocation that gives you complete ownership of affairs. After having worked as a self-employed individual over these years, autonomy is indeed a good platform for being happy and creative!

• The most important thing is though, is that your considerations should not center solely on present tough times. The crux is, how is what you are doing right now, aligned with your desired end in mind?

Even having worked as a self-employed for almost a decade, who constantly counts his blessings and relishes the opportunity of learning new things everyday, I too face setbacks daily. But I know that I'm still not qualified to feel discouraged and downcast, compared to many others...such as our old pal Thomas Edison.

Do keep us updated.

Duncan Ang

(Senior Councilor: May 2013 - December 2020)

Answered On 20 October 2018