Second class grades, first class life

I'm amused by my tendency to write on Fri mornings. Why Friday mornings? Because I write these during supply chain class heh.

One thing I seem to be poor at, I find it difficult to concentrate listen to someone talk about lots of numbers and formulas. I wish this class was webcasted. I mean, I could do marketing classes in the morning but when they bombard me with numbers...

Right after a programming class too. My brain has no space for this man =(.


(Heh, she might have overheard me telling a friend about how I need webcast, maybe thats why she suddenly mentioned it).


I decided this morning to not pursue first class honours anymore.

I was on the border of it actually. Had been sitting rather comfortably in first class until my large drop in CAP in year 2 sem 2 which pushed me just below the first class threshold. So I was thinking maybe I will try to climb back in, but I have decided not to anymore.

Last night, I felt really frustrated preparing my message for tomorrow's DI encounter, struggling to find a way to convey what I wanted. I was frustrated in part because it took significantly longer than expected, I spent pretty much my entire day on it and was not done. Then I would start to feel stressed about all my other things not done, looming deadlines, various other things I need to complete and so on. Regrets about 'not spending my time wisely' the past two days when I took time off after having finished a very draining project.

This morning, I looked at my massive to-do list for today, knowing that there was no way it was going to get done. So I stared hard at it, feeling the stress creep in and the physical reaction to that stress (back starts to ache), and I asked myself how was I going to make it through the next week. Didn't I just feel that last week why am I going through this again. Was it a mistake to take two days off, leading to things quickly snowballing again like this?

So I asked myself, what is really important to me?

And I realise, that sometimes the things that I know are important to me, I neglect more than the things I think ought not to be so important.
There's this thing called the Einsenhower Matrix which categories things we have to do based on urgency and importance. One key observation about people using this matrix is that people tend to spend too much time doing things that are urgent but not important, and their lives are dictated by this urgency pushing them to do things that are not what they really want to be doing.

Now, I can't 'delegate' away my work at this phase of my life of course, but this concept of being driven by the urgency of things which are not as important to me is something I feel is true in my life. Studying is important in the sense that learning is important, but the way I sometimes approach it in terms of assignments and trying to do well and score good grades is really not how I would like to learn.

I think about my time last year in year 2 sem 2 where I decided to chill out. It was an enjoyable sem in NUS and probably the sem I learnt the most, despite scoring the worst by far.

I think about my time in Maastricht, I actually learnt quite a fair bit despite my very relaxed approach to class.

I would much prefer that life. Where I can enjoy learning instead of cramming, trying to perfect every assignment. There's the 80-20 rule which suggests that you can put in 20 percent of your effort and get 80 percent result, but to get that last 20 percent improvement you have to spend 80 percent of your effort. Sometimes, you will want to give that 100 percent for certain things that are important, but for me, studying should not be one of those things.

I know I am someone who enjoys learning, so I'm not too worried about slacking off and failing my courses. It's just that I won't do as well as when I try to perfect every assignment.

There's another really good reason why I don't have to worry about my grades. I calculated my score and realised that for me to drop out of second upper, I would have to do quite a fair bit worse on average than my current worse sem. I also have heard a good amount from career advisors and recruiters about how second upper is important, but first class is not. The way recruiters look at grades is more of as a cut off point, after which they are more interested in your experience, interview and assessment centre.

Also, first class honours is actually really hard to get. I managed to sit rather comfortably in it for awhile because of the S/U policy. It is actually questionable whether I can really get first class even if I worked at it with all I've got.

So yea. It's time to focus on what matters more for me. This means paying more attention to DI, which I wanted to look at a few things but have not even begun to do so (because it's important but 'not urgent'). This means focusing on career and internship stuff. This means spending more time with people. This means letting myself enjoy life a little more without feeling bad about 'wasting time'.


So what does this mean practically?

Firstly, it means being willing to give up on my grades for python programming.

See, python programming is fun and I really like it. It's also really hard, and ridiculously time consuming. It has constant deadlines pouring in, and if you don't meet those datelines you don't earn experience points.

When I first started, I was ambitious, I spent time doing every single exercise including optional exercises to maximise my experience points. I participated actively in the forum, climbing to the top of the leaderboards.

I also had lots of free time then.

It makes sense to pursue python programming if I wanted first class honours. It was something that I was confident that if I worked at it, I could get an A. If I don't intend to aim for an A though, it doesn't make that much sense to work so hard for it. I can simply pass and S/U this mod.

This also means that I can learn this at my own pace, so I can focus on the more urgent and important things now like the upcoming interviews and assessment centres, while catching up later in the semester once I've secured an internship.

I can also not have to go for recitation, which is highly recommended to go to do well but is not compulsory. Which combined with the news I just heard that supply chain management can be webcasted despite being in seminar format, that means I have a two day week. Well yea, I have to be careful about that still since sometimes when I stay at home I don't get anything done, but at least I set my own pace.

I think one very important thing about giving up python programming grades too, is laying down my pride. I admit, it felt really good to be number 1 in the leaderboards of the entire cohort. It is something quite frivolous though. I learn python because I want to learn python, not because I want to show off my number 1 position.

So for python programming, I will have to intentionally not do assignments sometimes when I really have other things to do. Get a 0 for some of them, perhaps this week I will. This will require me to be really intentional about it, because once it's past the deadline, you don't get any points even if you eventually complete it. It makes my OCD act up. It makes me feel like I'm missing out because once these points are gone they can never be recovered. It means I will never have the opportunity to climb back up the leaderboards again even if I started working hard again later in the sem. I will have to be okay with that.

Secondly, it means throwing supply chain management away until later in the sem. This is a tactical move, because supply chain management has no midterms, and the finals are one and a half weeks after my previous paper. Combined with webcasts, I have time to catch up.

For the rest of my modules, it means being okay with the 80-20 rule. Again, there's the OCD in me, I will probably feel unsatisfied and want to make it perfect, but I need to tell myself not to when I shouldn't.

These are not advice I would give to majority of people out there. I imagine if I told one of the youth in DI to do this, it could go quite disastrously. I can tell myself this though, because I know I have this inclination to do well and the cost of other more important things, and I need to temper it. I know when I have nothing to do in a day I will end up going on coursemology anyway, I will end up trying to code anyway, I will perhaps go watch a supply chain webcast, I won't actually really completely neglect them. They key thing is being willing to drop them when I need to. Being willing to say, okay, this particular thing which is not urgent is more important, and I will get it done first.

So yea. Funny how when it comes to me, questions about priorities often involves not doing work rather than having to do more work heh.