I started grading students back as a teaching assistant in college, and as a student I had been through all those standardised tests such as TOEFL, SAT and GRE. Now part of my job is to write assessment tests and plan assessment camps for students. Yes, I am one of those evil people who create tests for students, but that doesn’t mean I believe tests are accurate measures of one’s worth.
There are things that assessments cannot measure. Character, Integrity, Passion, Humility. These are things that makes one special and unique. There are things that will stick with you for life and things that will make your friendship long-lasting and your life fulfilling. Regrettably, our society has at times created assessments that devalue you as a human being.
Though I am not a full-time educator and I am not a parent, I know standardised tests are hard and have many blindspots. I feel sorry that you students need to spend endless hours studying and attending tutorial class to meet those “standards” and attend “elite” universities. While I go back to my alma matar every year to give workshops on interview preparation and personal statement in hope that students can choose the “best” universities based on their potential, I do believe that in this time and age, there are many alternative paths in life. One should not be obsessed that a better life can only be ensured by obtaining a “professional degree” . Who can guarantee a “bright future” when you get a uni degree? The world is advancing with so much velocity and complicated dimensions now that for some people being school drop-outs may offer them many more new avenues leading them to more adventurous and fulfilling future.
Go. Dream. Explore. Fail. Take courage in whatever you do. We need comedians, singers, dancers, athletes, chefs, writers … in life along with lawyers, i-bankers and doctors too. Go find mentors and supportive people in your life to tell you that you can make it and not be bounded by the 600 sq. feet dream in HK. It’s not easy, I know – most adults are struggling with that too.
We all will have those moments of doubts and inner struggles. Please know that you are not alone, many support and help is available if you care to reach out to them.
You are unique and irreplaceable to all those who love and know you.