The module-madness season for Sem 2 of AY2016/17 has ended- Congratulations, you’ve made it past the (tedious) bidding process!
But perhaps you’re thinking of other modules you had wanted to bid for, but wasn’t able to secure. Or modules you wanted to try, but heard negative reviews about. Or maybe even modules you’re really really interested in… But not good at.
Should you still take them?
A big question many of you have is this: “If I am interested in this module’s content, but I won’t do well in it… Should I still take the risk and try it?”
First of all, I don’t know where you get the notion that you won’t do well in the module- especially if you haven’t tried it yet! Many things begin with perception, and if you believe you’re going to be diligent during the semester, chances are you would cope with the workload better, understand the lectures better, and stand a fair ground to do exceedingly well in your module. But of course, one Uni reality is this- the presence of the bell curve. Not all modules follow a bell curve, but for those that do, there are times when your expected grade might drop due to your peers doing better for the same subject. You might be anxious over this then- what if you don’t have any more Satisfactory/ Unsatisfactory (S/U) options to use? What if this affects your CAP? Then, to quell this little root of CAP-destroying-poison that’s sprung up in your mind, you hurriedly think: “Nah… Stay on the safe side.” And you click “Drop Module”.
They all say you should live with no regrets, and I think that applies to choosing what we want to study in university, too.
Here’s an analogy. Picking modules you like, but think you won’t excel in, is like this: Having a horrendous fear of heights, but being brave enough to think about whether you should still bungee-jump. You’re standing at the edge of the cliff, goggles over your head, hand gripping the safety barrier with dear life, thinking: what to do what to do what to do. You have no idea what to do because come on- you’re terrified of heights. But somewhere at the back of your head you know you wrote this in your bucket list. It’s something you’ve always wanted to try.
Similarly, going back to the modules- Is there something, a particular field, subject, or topic that’s always intrigued you? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try Linguistics, or take on Political Science, or had a keen interest in German. But from what other people say, Linguistics might be overly dry; Political Science requires too much voicing out (and you don’t see yourself as a particularly outgoing person); and for languages, well, the bell curve would stand in your way of doing well.
Now as a Year One freshie entering NUS determined to pick up a new language, I was told 2 things:
That 1) The bidding points for languages would go up extremely high- as high as over 1,000 points. (Though I realised that that’s dependent on each semester, and not always true- there’re lucky ones who manage to get language mods at 1 point)!
And 2) The bell curve for languages was tough, because there would always be “cheaters” who didn’t declare their language background, hence beginning with a headstart above the rest.
And it’s not just languages, actually. You’ll hear it for almost every module. Bell curve. Bell curve. Bell curve… Well, bell-ieve it or not, it is actually possible to do well despite the bell curve. Be diligent. Have courage. Don’t be afraid to ask. Since young, encouraging teachers have told me that ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’- and I think this holds true even till today, at university level. Unless you’re being deliberately inappropriate or rudely irrelevant, there is no such thing as a stupid question, and you should never let the fear of asking hold you back.
So- what was it I did in the end, wanting to learn Korean, yet having all these “barriers” and “warnings” posed to me?
Well, I went ahead with Korean 1, securing it under NUS’ Language Preparation Programme (LPP programme, for 1 bid point. Sidenote: Do look up “NUS LPP” for for information). As the months progressed, I was becoming excited at the prospect of speaking Korean. I had learned the Hangeul (Korean Alphabet), and some sentence structures. It was a module that I was enjoying despite its weekly rigour. But then the mid-term test came around, and my excitement careened off a cliff- just within that 2-hour slot. I came out of the examination hall feeling crestfallen, because I’d left close to 30 marks blank- a result of slow reading and lack of time management. It was then that I felt so worried- Would this grade affect my CAP? What if I failed Korean? Would I get kicked out of the LPP programme? Needless to say, it was a terrible day for me.
But sometimes, it’s negative experiences like these- that ironically give you fuel to leave what you can’t change, and press on for what you CAN.
So pushing all bell-curve thoughts aside (For the curious ones, I had scored 43/100 for my mid-term test… And the average had been 76/100). (Yes, I know, I know…)- I fought on, determined not to have to drop Korean at the end of the semester.
And yes, determination will be your best friend in times like these! Thankfully I did not have to drop Korean and currently, as a sem 2 (not-so)-freshie, I am now continuing with Korean 2. :)
So to tie things all together, it’s back to the subjective opinion of others, which may sometimes overpower what really matters- You. Take a step back to filter out the voices around you, which tell you not to take the bungee plunge. And think about what YOU want, instead.
Of course, it’s good to be practical and think about wanting to do well in University. Everyone aims to be successful and to get a good CAP. So the person who fears heights would decide to remove those goggles, pluck off the helmet and do something closer to home instead- perhaps a nice, safe, ground-sport, or maybe a swim in the sea. But hey, think about it. Sometimes stepping out, stepping UP, and seizing what you what to do can be unexpectedly refreshing, and rewarding.
Go ahead, try it, and give your best.
So here’s to a great Sem 2 for you; and a brilliant next Sem too- where you decide if you’re going to take that bungee plunge, or not.
All the best- Here’s to reaching your own peak, and raising that victory flag.