Navigating through your study plan

Syazuin Sazali
Syazuin Sazali
21 Jun 2022 06:16pm
Illustrative purposes (123rf)
Illustrative purposes (123rf)

The SPM exam result has just been released recently and your ears are probably bleeding from listening to questions revolving around, “What’s your plan for the future?” If you had a dime each time someone said that, you’d be rich by now! “Ouch, give yourself a break, will you?”

However, with the knowledge and soft skills you’ve acquired, you’ve smartened up and know how to navigate these conversations.

These take a lot of practice, but we are all levelling up, right? It was the accepted understanding during my time, right after SPM, I, along with all my schoolmates, would progress to continue with our studies immediately.

Right after we went for a few outings, trips and took our driving license, that is.

A few months down the road, reality hit and I applied for everything that I was eligible for; you named it – Matriculation college, A-levels/ Foundation programme, all of the government and private scholarships and universities I was interested in – but to my ultimate horror- the first news I got was that I was one of the “chosen one” to attend the National Service Training Programme.

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Well, I jumped off the floor. Definitely not how I expected things to be.

Just when I thought I no longer have to wear any sorts of uniforms. Not my main concern, but still.

Thankfully, things were not that bad after all. It helped me mature and serve as a bridge to adulthood.

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A lot of decision-making skills were reinforced as I start to make and plan things out for my life soon after.

Smart and not-so-smart decisions were made.

To top that off, I even managed to work at a customer service call-centre to take food orders to improve on my communication skills.

That felt liberating and intimidating both at the same time as I learned to earn my first pay.

This was the time I develop more appreciation towards how my parents manage their finance around my education and our living expenses.

You can imagine what happened before that; as I can’t make heads or tails of it.

From my point of view, then, things didn’t seem to work out most of the time, all the time.

I first went into a matriculation college and things didn’t seem to resonate. I wanted out immediately after a few months in.

Therefore, I had to wait for the second intake for public universities and make an appeal for admission.

I didn’t get the course I wanted right away so I learned a different course during the first semester.

Therefore, how do you navigate at such a young age? The answer: Focus on your inner growth. And, most importantly, not go against your parent’s advice too much.

Yes, you read that right. Don’t rebel too much.

After all, your loved ones always have your best interests at heart- even when they have troubles putting them into words and actions! I would definitely tell that to my younger self.

Why so? A young person undergoing change into adulthood must go through that ‘separation gap’ where you experience the free-fall of not yet being an adult but no longer a child.

Are you singing to Britney’s, “I’m not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”? Perhaps, if you can relate to ‘80s or ‘90s babies.

Before you reach this level of awareness, you might feel like you’re all grown up. Don’t worry, I did too. Guilty as charged.

When deciding on your next pathway, ask yourself these questions, “What are your strengths?” “What do you love to do?” “Is there anything that you wish you knew how to do?” “What issue or concerns out in the world do you care about the most?” Have a private moment and discuss them with your parents and siblings. Their experience and outlook matter to a certain point. Take in their inputs.

Write all those answers and possibilities down.

Source: Planning and Policy Coordination Division, Higher Education Ministry (MoHE)
Source: Planning and Policy Coordination Division, Higher Education Ministry (MoHE)

Once you’ve reached this point in your navigation, congratulations, you’re doing a great job! Every progress is a learning opportunity.

If you need professional help, there are numerous public and private career counsellors you can seek help from.

The best way to navigate as you grow older is through self-knowledge and having your sense of identity intact while putting other people’s perspective into account.

Continuously develop real-world skills. Try and fail but never fail to try.

Whatever pathway you choose for yourself, remember to incorporate them with evolving high-demand skills.

Oh, and dear parents, your adolescent is not a young child anymore. Learn to have an open and accepting communication style.

Learn to respect your teen’s perspective – even if you don’t agree- and be willing to negotiate with your teen.

Lead by consciously modelling leadership behaviours.

SYAZUIN SAZALI is a certified English language literacy and public speaking coach. Linkedin & Instagram: @syazuinsazali, Email: [email protected]