Recently, my husband panicked over the rising cost of university education in Singapore. Partly because he has been reading unsolicited advice by insurance companies, trying to scare him into parting a portion of his salary to invest in some kind of long-term investment plan. Partly because he loves our 1-year-old daughter and want to be able to provide the best education for her.
Not uncommon that parents will want the best for their child. But I disagree in scaring yourself silly for something that is unknown in future. Sure, I would want her to arm herself with the best but what if, the best for her is not through a paper qualification? There seem to be too many examples of people who are successful and happy are those not pursuing a degree. David Geffen of Geffen Records and Dreamworks is one of the many, not to mention Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. Closer to home, we have Creative’s Sim Wong Hoo, Royston Tan, Lawrence Leow of Crescendas Group and Lee Li Lian, a member of Singapore Parliament.
Sure, they are like less than 1% of the world population but I’m not going to start undermining my daughter’s future capabilities when she is only..erhm..one year old. Realistically speaking and according to statistics, she is probably going to be an average Singaporean who follows the traditional route of getting a degree, getting a desk job, get married, coop up in a shoebox apartment and have children. Just like many Singaporeans are.
However, I’m seeing a shift towards work life balance, a move towards flexi-workforce, a period where there are more entrepreneurs risking everything to pursue their dreams.
This is now.
Where technology, millennials, instant gratification, commercialism society rule the economy. Unless a Third World War breaks out in the next 30 years, these aren’t going to change. Not when China is gear steadily towards becoming the next Big Super Power, perhaps replacing America one day. China is even bigger on technology, millennials, instant gratification, commercialism. And even if Third World War did break out, it is skilled workers that will survive, not the ones who hold the papers.
Of course, I will never deny my child of the education she deserves. I will work hard for her future and if she wants a degree, I will strive to make that happen for her. But I want her to want to study for a degree in a subject she loves and not because it will bring her a much more stable job or a higher salary. Definitely not because she needs to fulfil her parents’ dreams or expectations. Not because of following the society’s herd. Not because the government say so.
And definitely never threaten her with “If you don’t study hard, you’ll never amount to anything good.” A statement that was repeated to me when I was growing up. By teachers, role models and parents.
Before I entered the workforce, I truly believe that without a proper degree from a good school, I won’t stand a chance in life. I’ll be mediocre, I won’t be special. Inside me, somehow, I didn’t believe this and I struggled with my purpose as I stepped into the workforce.
Fortunately, I met wonderful mentors throughout my life, my true personality didn’t stay buried and I discovered my passion. I ended up a wonderful career with one of the most sought-after companies in the world, earning more than many Masters graduates do.
Now, I control my own destiny, time and effort with my successful freelancing career, achieving many personal milestones and overcoming challenges, being satisfied and happy, more than I can say for many graduates in the workforce right now.
Right now, I rather my husband and I be there for my daughter, spend quality time and cultivate, teach, instil proper morals than not able to come home early every night to tuck her in bed because we need to work 2 jobs in order to save up for her education.
What is more important: a degree or a compassionate righteous soul? Let me know in the comments below.
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