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I have very few regrets in life – I tend not to bemoan decisions I have made that may not have made sense with the benefit of foresight, but was the best decision I could have made when I made it. Going into Science Stream in Form 4, which reversed by string of straight-A’s (I still scored A’s in SPM for my humanities papers), was the best decision I could have made after Form 3 as I haven’t ruled out engineering then. Going into Form 6, which culminates in one of the toughest pre-university examinations (to keep non-Bumiputras like me out of public universities), was essentially my only viable option at that time.

The next stage of my life, though, I have deep regrets. Moving to Singapore and coming to SMU didn’t make sense based on what I knew about myself and what I’m capable of two years ago. The reason why I chose SMU was simply because at that time, it was one of the only two universities that chose me (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Samarahan was the other one). But before SMU accepted me, my plans was to redo STPM, retake SAT I, and do SAT II.

The failsafe was University of London external program, which, while difficult, draws more on my strengths in comparison with SMU. But I knew I would have done well in STPM – before I can do well in exams, I must know the subject before I can learn the exam (which placed me at a bit of a disadvantage in this part of the world, I know). The thing is, going to a very new school (first batch of Form Sixers, FTW), and changing streams midway, I never actually did learn the subject matter until the last month or so before the exams.

And still, I did pretty good in comparison with the single digit percentages I use to get earlier in Form 6 (my trial results for Statistics, for example, was 18% if I remember correctly, and I scored an A- in that paper in STPM a month later). Now, given the benefit of learning the exam for an entire year, I stood the chance of doing pretty good. Similarly for my SAT I, which, while I took during a violent bout of diarrhoea, still did me well enough to get into SMU, one of Southeast Asia’s most selective schools, in spite of the dearth of co-curricular activities and dismal exam grades.

Most of the things I hate about SMU are things I knew about it before I enrolled – in fact, the months leading up to matriculation, I have a severe bout of cold feet*. One of the key things about SMU is that I have to work in Singapore for three years after, limiting my options considerably to just one city. In other words, making this bad decision really bad is its long punishment period (don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind working in Singapore – but I don’t like being limited to Singapore).

SMU was the safe option, so to speak, but it wasn’t my best option. Other than the friends I’ve made in SMU and me dabbling into debating (which wouldn’t have happened if I did the external program), it didn’t really turn out to be one of those happy mistakes. SMU was one of the few occasions I played safe against my better judgment, and perhaps the main reason why I’ve stopped playing safe. With what I knew two years ago, my original, pre-SMU acceptance plans was the better bet.

* On the other hand, almost all of the things I like about SMU are things I didn’t know prior to enrollment, which also didn’t help with the regret, really.

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One Comment

  1. we learn from our mistakes and regret is normal


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Clarification « Rajan Rishyakaran on 16 Aug 2008 at 6:47 pm

    […] Clarification Based on my last post: […]

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