Letter to the Editor: Advice to High School Students before University Life

Students, seated in class while observing social distancing measures against the COVID-19 coronavirus, pay attention to their mask-clad teacher in Phnom Penh on September 7, 2020, as schools reopen across the country. (Photo: AFP)

Graduating from high school is a turning point in everyone’s life. Your life will be changed entirely and you have to make your own choices and decisions. In other words, you will live and learn independently.



Three questions can be asked; “What do you want to be? What do you want to study? Where do you want to study?” Please keep these three questions in your mind before stepping into the university world. Your decisions will impact your life, so consideration is important.



The best way to make a wise and worthwhile decision is to collect as much information as possible. Do not rush to choose because your decision can determine your unfolding future. Do not let other people decide for you, for it is only you who will shoulder all those burdens for the rest of your life. For instance, your decisions might have been influenced by your parents, peers and trends of society.



It is not a wise choice to follow them—remember, this is your decision. Please follow your guts and passion! Ask yourself “What is my real passion? What is my utmost talent?” If you are good at physics, please choose to study a relevant subject. Some people fail to achieve their goals because they do not have enough information.



So, they end up letting others define their destiny. In this situation, you are not yourself. Others have defined your life. For sure, no-one wants this way of life; if you are in this situation, be considerate and find a way out of this trap. Many people come to me and ask me “What major should I study? Where is the best place to study? If I study this subject, are there many opportunities for getting jobs with a high salary?” Answering these universal questions makes me feel uncomfortable because these should not be the drivers of your destiny.



Please remember that no-one can decide for you. Hence, my answer is to follow your passion and interests.



All majors are the best option for everyone, depending on your interests and skills. All schools have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it depends on their specialization and expertise. All majors have an equal chance to get you a job, and whether you can get a high salary or not, it depends on your abilities and what you do with what you learn.



I repeat: your job opportunities are not determined by your majors, but by your abilities. Therefore, my simple rule is that you can choose any major that you love and are good at. You will be never exhausted from studying and working on it. Once you are at the top, believe me, people will need you and is willing to hire you with a high salary. On the contrary, if you do not love what you study or are not good at that subject, but you choose to study it because of the reputation of the school or your family’s wishes… nah! Give me a break!



Your life will be totally miserable and you will struggle from the burden of a passionless study followed by a loveless job. For example, you are good at mathematics, but you choose to study international relations because of your parents’ dream job for you or the reputation of the school, then you will struggle through every minute of the concepts and theories thrown at you.



Thus, if you do not love your studies, you will have no motivation or commitment to succeed in it. Once you cannot perform well in your academic life, you will find studying boring. More or less, you will quit, and you will waste a lot of time, energy and money. Sometimes, you will regret for the rest of your life.



Therefore, I would like everyone, especially my juniors, to be considerate about their choices. To choose the right one, to follow your heart, genius, dreams and passions. Do not let others define your goals or your destiny! Be happy with your decision; do what you love rather than naively do what others love!

Neak Piseth is a founder of “The Way of Life Cambodia.” He received a scholarship to pursue his master’s degree in Non-Formal Education at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He has been working as an Assistant-to-Director at the Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center and is an English Lecturer of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Notably, he is author of the book “The Genuine Chapters of Life” and a reviewer at Cambodian Education Forum.


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