Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reference Letter Madness

Over the past week, I've had 5 students from my former civics class calling me for references for scholarships, university admissions, testimonials, and whatnot.

And to think two months back, I was pestering my HOD, subject head, and other teachers for my own letters of recommendation for my own Masters application! Karma's funny that way.

As I promised my colleagues a good treat, which I have yet to follow up on (arck!), I should expect the same from my students, right? Hehe...

I remember my own scholarship application. I simply toted up my choices, went for the talks, made my choice, submitted my application, and... that's it. Competition during my time was stiff, and frankly speaking, all I kept hearing was that no S paper, no chance. Sure, I had gotten 5 distinctions (including the highly sought and elusive distinction for GP), but... no S paper. There was also no such nonsense like referees and grading applicants on their intellect, discipline, etc. Just our grades, testimonial, and CCA record.

Simpler times. Good times.

While I will endeavor to do my best for my students, it's always easier when I do have stuff, good things, to write about. Thankfully, that's not an issue for this bunch.

Speaking of results, I remember being scared stiff when receiving my results in the hall, only to be told by a teacher, "Your result slip is in LT3. Go there. Congrats, only the best scorers go there." I couldn't believe my eyes when I received the result slip in the lecture theatre. Only one B for any of my subjects, economics. Others were peeking over my shoulder and sighing with envy. Sure, there were those who scored even better, since this was National JC we were talking about.

For all the hard work I had put in, this was vindication. This was success, sweet and intoxicating. I was half-dazed as I stumbled out. No consultations, crazy CCA participation, late nights slogging away at my tutorials only for a short reprieve of watching Star Trek or Babylon 5 after midnight before plunging back into work.

And our students, if they are willing to make the same sacrifices, can do it too. What are they willing to give up, though? From what I can see, all too few. However, they do exist, and I am honoured to have the privilege of teaching some of them. Of the five students featured on the school's website for the A level results, I taught three of them.

Zachary, Jonathan, and Boon Rong, well done!
(In hindsight, I should have called Jonathan to get a haircut before collecting his results... sigh... that was a mistake I would not repeat again)


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