9 things S’pore schools didn’t prepare us for in the real world

New year, new crises.

By Mandy How | January 7, 2017

Just graduated from a world-class university with straight As and a good honours degree?

Congratulations. If the economy allows, you shouldn’t have any problem making a decent living.

But in between navigating adulthood and all the responsbilities that accompany it, here are 9 things that we wished our schools had taught us:

1. Work place politics


You know how you can always leave an unsavoury peer evaluation and never speak to that useless project mate at the end of the semester?

You can’t do the same at your work place. And you’ll have to see the person five days a week, nine hours a day.

Sure, the least you could do is be civil, but there really should be a school module on navigating the treacherous waters of workplace relations.


2. Saving up wisely


You’d think putting aside money every month would be a no-brainer, but consumerism bad habits die hard.

Luckily it turns out that there’s stuff like savings plans with lots of financial terms involved.

And you’ll have to talk to people in polo-tees and clipboards to find out what they are.



3. Evaluating banks and all they have to offer

Source: MemeGenerator
Source: MemeGenerator

Different types of interest rates and what appear to be irresistible perks, followed by chunks of fine print to wade through.

And that’s not all: the process of applying for anything (even online) is a painful and long-drawn process for today’s millennials, afflicted as they are with the disease of impatience.

Is there an app for that?

4. Taxes

Source: Memecentre
Source: MemeCenter

Wait for a letter from Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and follow its instructions, like signing up an account at myTax Portal.

In this respect it sounds a lot like school – get a letter, sign up for a school portal account.

Except that there are actual and legal consequences if you f*** this s**t up.

5. Insurance


You’re starting to get the drift. Basically anything that has to do with finances and long-term planning, because, y’know, exams only ended six months ago.

Life insurance policies, health insurance policies and insurance policies for your ageing parents and future children – how do you choose between policy A and policy B besides costs?

School also didn’t teach you how to reject your friends-turned-insurance-agents without jeopardising the friendship, or stop acquaintances from bugging you about it on social media. *swats


6. Making time for your friends (a.k.a. managing a work-life balance)

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

It was (somewhat) easier to juggle different aspects of your life when you were schooling – relationships, school work, friends, and maybe even a part-time job.

Now, you just feel like going home after work, either to stone on your bed or binge-watch your show. 

It also doesn’t help that the results-oriented academic life greatly stresses success in terms of career achievements over relationships.

Additionally, you can’t suka suka not turn up for work, so the compromise will have to be on your social life.

As a result, you drift apart from your friends until the only thing left to do is to go home after work. Sad.


7. Household chores / Cooking


We had the rudimentary Home Economics and Food and Nutrition classes, but those seemed to consist more of spoon-fed instructions than anything else.

The logistics of independently running a household – managing expenses, cleaning properly, or even something as simple as sewing a button – is important enough to be taught in school.


8. Meeting new people in a social context


Ever met new people or been to a social event for work only to be caught like a deer in headlights?

Stale coversations, awkward stutters, and ending the night by leaving only a vague impression of yourself.

Learning to carry yourself with poise and elegance is another life skill that is lacking for all in our education system.

Unless you were running for a head prefect or a student councillor.


9. Online etiquette

Source: Knowyourmeme

In the age of digital and social media, cyber manners are paramount.

Being sensitive to race and religion matters online has become only common sense for some. But not all.

Maybe many of us have to appreciate the fact that our social media posts have become part of our online CV / resume.


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About Mandy How

Mandy is a pantry rat. She eats everything in the pantry.

Morning Commute

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