Let's Talk: DU Admissions - Marks matter; and they don't.
A word of advice to the advice givers, and a statement of solidarity to the advice takers
I am so tired of hearing comedians motivate every new batch of graduating high-schoolers with the same old, same old.
Honestly. I get it - you are more than the sum total of your marks. You are more than your report card. You’re a full fledged individual and your marks don’t matter, your entrance result doesn’t matter, college doesn’t matter, we’re all going to end up in a start up anyway.
Here’s the thing - Marks matter. And they don’t.
Why Marks Matter
You need to chill.
I’m not saying we don’t need to hear your perspective on this - of course we do, every student out there needs reminding that this cannot be the end-all of their lives. They need reminding, that college admission is not the end they seek, but the means to an end. They need to be told that there’s always a plan B, no matter what.
That being said, it’s high time some of these speeches also took into account that for a lot of children, plan B is the lack of an education. Plan B is sometimes not enough. Plan B is sometimes a life that is harder, rougher and unfair. There’s something inherently elitist about believing that Plan B always works - because Plan B, depending on a student’s background and financial capabilities, can vary from higher education in a private university, to higher education in a vocational course. And here’s the thing - sometimes, Plan B can mean something much darker. It can mean not getting a higher education at all.
So dear comedians, motivators, self help gurus or whatever you call yourselves: Check your privilege. Thank you for coming out to say what needs to be said. But it’s time we address a wider audience. It’s time we reach out to the kids who don’t have the privilege to eschew education and choose to find themselves.
Let’s remind ourselves that ‘Off the beaten track’ is a luxury many can not afford. Let’s remind ourselves that the reason public university admissions are so competitive is because often, it’s all some students can afford. Let’s remind ourselves that sometimes, plan B just isn’t good enough.
Let’s also remind our kids that it matters to work hard, it matters to make it.
Because we live in a world where you either make it above 98 per cent - or you don’t make it through at all.
Why Marks Don’t Matter
Hi. Breathe. It’s okay. If you didn’t make it through - I can offer only my solidarity on what must seem like a dark day. But trust me - I meant what I said about there always being a Plan B.
I don’t mean to be hypocritical, but we could all use a reminder: We usually choose the highway because it’s the fastest connection between home and our destination. If we’re running low on fuel, if we just don’t have the time, the highway is our only option. Sometimes, however, if you can’t make it on to the highway, it makes sense to take a by-road - a road that will definitely be tougher to navigate, a road that might look deserted at times, a road that will have you worrying about mileage.
But, you never know - you could still reach your destination in record time; or find a lateral entry into the highway of your choice, or maybe, just maybe, despite being on fuel reserve and despite having a heavy heart - you could find a destination that you like better. And who knows - you could even get there before your ETA.
But enough throwaway advice. Of course marks matter - but they’re not everything.
It’ll work out. I cannot promise that, like so many have before me. But it worked out for me. And I hope it does for you.