Sunday, July 29, 2007

the "i did okay" frame of mind

A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with an MBA student over a cup of coffee. He was a foreign student who was sponsored by his company to pursue his MBA in one of the private higher learning institutions here. This is his second semester and in his first semester, he enrolled in only two modules. Now, let me tell you that as a full time student, enrolling yourself in two modules really means that you're here for a holiday. Enrollment in two courses are for people who have full time jobs and are taking the MBA as part-time students.

Anyway... I got around to asking him how he performed in his first semester. His response to that question was, " I did okay". So, me being me, I had to ask him what his definition of "okay" was. He said. "Well, you know, it was okay". I just looked at him with this look that said,"Yes....and what are "okay" grades???". He squirmed around in his chair before he said that he made Cs in BOTH courses. I don't get it... you know, I always thought that you did your first degree because you didn't know any better and were probably there to make mom and dad happy with the thought that you are getting some sort of higher education (although you had absolutely NO idea what you were doing). In contrast to that, pursuing a post graduate degree is a matter of personal choice. Mom and dad are no longer breathing down your neck and spending sleepless nights wondering if you're going to survive the four years of education and eventually graduate (a VERY big thing in the asian culture). Pursuing a post graduate degree means that this is something that you WANT to do... that you are intrinsically motivated to do it.

Okay, I'm going to tell you something about what I know about private higher learning institutions and how they all generally operate --- getting a C- in any post graduate module is the equivalent of a FAIL but they can't fail you as they want your money (what are they going to do if they have standards and students just drop out? It's all about generating income. Getting an education? Whoever said that it was anything to do with that???). So what they do is they give you a C- instead so that you will stay with them for the duration of the whole course (KA-CHING goes the till!).

Getting a C- in any post graduate course is a waste of time. It is the equivalent of telling the whole wide world out there that you are a waste of time. Why this guy seems cool about it is a absolute wonder! This semester, he informs me, he is enrolled in four modules...anyone want to guess how he's going to perform this time around???

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