It was the usual Saturday night dinner with Indian Australian friends when the discussion turned to the recently released HSC results and the ATAR scores. Of the 20 people gathered, a quick whip around found that only four of the 20 could actually remember their Indian HSC results and whether it was selective amnesia or embarrassment, it seemed that 25 years on, those results made little difference to their lives. It was however, agreed that in their experience while the HSC allowed some an entry into their preferred options, others found their personal future in their own way.
The local Indian Australian community values good education. With the 2013 HSC results announced in mid-December, there is a scramble for university places, as the local Indian Australian families push for higher education for their children. Around dinner tables, an analysis of courses and universities and higher education options are being explored by students and their parents. While selection of the appropriate course is important, it is also important to note that future happiness is not decided by what your ATAR scores allows you to access.
The challenge for the youngsters and their parents is to find out what they enjoy and then do it. Admittedly, at times it may be difficult to get this right in the first go, but over time one hopes that there will be a gradual shift to align personal passion with professional endeavours.
Australia does offer the opportunity to learn from life experiences as perhaps compared to India. In India, with constant population pressures on the job market, along with social expectations, the ability to fine tune one’s life journey is more restricted. Society and other pressures make it difficult to leave a study course midterm, whereas in Australia the ability to fine tune is more acceptable. It is commonplace for young people to take a gap year and enhance their personal perspectives before embarking on a university course, whereas in India, to take time off after school to go travelling is unheard off. Often long term professional happiness is sacrificed as the pathways for advancements are restricted.
For parents of young Indian Australians, the realisation that the social systems are different between the two countries may help them in guiding their children as to their options as they go forward. For the parents helping their children to chart out the rest of their lives based on their ATAR scores, they need to take into account what their children enjoy doing, as well as balancing their own life experiences with the social options in their country of adoption.
They may well be advised to use the following words of wisdom from the famous Steve Jobs Stanford speech, “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle”.
And perhaps parents might also want to review their own life choices. Would they have done things differently if they had more flexibility with their options?