What is considered success? Grades vs real world

Most of the time, success to the student means scoring desirable grades and being at the top band of the cohort performance. There is a sense of achievement, pride when the metric is met. And this is particularly rampant in grade-centric Singapore.

I won’t fault the students for desiring the grades because the education system rewards students who achieve the grades by opening up opportunities for them (admission into top schools/competitive university courses/scholarships). If grades is what is used as a basis for determining who gets what opportunities of course students will be biased towards it.

However, this is a recipe for disaster for graduates. Whilst grades open the doors, it is not what gets them the jobs in this new job economy.

Jack Sim a successful businessman summed it nicely here where he highlights soft skill development being paramount an automated future.

And soft skills is particularly hard to train and particularly hard to automate for. AND particularly sort after. A headhunter friend of mine was lamenting to me in a recent catch-up. He finds difficulty placing locals in well-paying white collar jobs which he always tries to squeeze into his shortlist for the MNC clients he services. Most are dropped after the final interview. He observed that whilst local job seekers have shown proficiency in hard skills, majority of them could not speak eloquently enough to sway the potential employers.

Recently, I have also started to note this trend in schools. My students have been coming to me complaining about PW (Project work) a compulsory gradable non-academic component – that they end up getting lower grades than their team mates who put in little to no work but stole the lime-light during presentation.

I hope this is the single most important lesson my students will learn from school.

Putting aside time outside of tutoring I hope to help my students develop their soft skills to be a bit more resilient and ready for the 4th Industrial revolution. COMMENT.


  • On October 31, 2016