We all have important points in our lives when we have to make critical decisions not only about current circumstances but also future endeavors. Applying to boarding school or university is such a benchmark. However, getting to that stage in life, making a choice about ones potential future gets tied up in loads of emotional content: future security and career, vanity and ego, and success and failure to name but a few. Often these ideals or lack of them drives the decision-making process, sometimes with less desirable results.
As we enter the season of admissions, students go above and beyond trying to prove themselves to peers and parents. The high stakes admissions process and the perceived value of “where am I going” forces students to make decisions that go well beyond the individual. Yet, education is individual and seemingly, at this time of the year, is completely disregarded.
Recently, for example, a Chinese student in Thailand was caught with the full SAT exam and answers. Other students were also caught in Singapore and other countries. One may wonder why, and the answer is that they have really missed the point of going to school abroad – the wide educational experience and the value of self directed learning. Caught up in the mindset of “I must go to X University” to be accepted as a person, as perceived to be successful and a point of vanity clouds the true aspects of future education.
However, the other side of this coin is how such actions affect the multitudes of other students who are truly working to put they best efforts forward, unaided. As a consequence of these students’ actions, hundreds if not thousands of students now face the prospect of their SAT scores being cancelled. One selfish act virtually impacts thousands. Regardless of the sentiment “I did not think I was going to get caught,” a fair number of issues have been raised about these students.
Without going into the many possible answers, the naïve point of view of not considering being caught strikes a note with most people who read about the many stories we hear. Several years ago, during the National Higher Education Entrance Exam in China, aslso known as Gaokao, one school had parents riot and pelt test monitors because they felt that students had the right to cheat, since there were several students who managed to evade the strict security at the school. A generalization of a complex issue, I realize, but why are particular universities or so geared to the secondary school a student attends?
We can see hundreds of examples of celebrities and entrepreneurs, successful business people who went to a wide range of schools. Some of them never went to or completed university.
Why can’t we be what we are meant to be? So I pose the question – To be or not to be? To be the best person I can, to find my own value in education and in my life. To pursue a career devoid of peer or parental criticism is, I hope, the ultimate objective. Once we accept that we ourselves have the ultimate say in how to go about attaining an education, how we develop as people, while seeking guidance and direction along the way, then we can become the best we can be. In the process of doing so, will the fortunes of success manifest themselves from within.
If subjected to peer pressure about personal value I lose the inner perspective to challenge and grow. Worrying about perceived expectations and vanity forces decisions, which mat bring about disastrous results based on false expectations.
Be the best person you can be. Don’t be a sheep blindly following the path of others. Be you, this is the essence of true leadership. Create personal value, find inner success, ultimately leading to personal satisfaction and reward. Make the most of what you have and find peace, true inner peace alleviated from the downcast eyes influenced by vanity.
Photo: Clearly Ambiguous (flickr)