Tertiary level students, especially those in their final year, are a step away from graduation and stepping foot into the working world. I must admit that the working world is different and demanding, to say the least. The books we read and study in university might prepare students to a certain level but real life experiences and on the job learning are factors that make the difference.
Students need to be aware that the demands and realities of the working world, regardless of industries, are very different from the university setting which is likened to somewhat of a comfort zone. There is support from management, lecturers and classmates. All these might disappear the moment one steps into the working arena.
Most graduates will end up working for companies in various industries. The corporate world can at times be ruthless and students need to be prepared for these realities. They might be thrown into the deep end with minimal guidance and whether they sink or float will depend on their performance. We are all aware of Key Performance Indexes or KPIs which are a determinant of performance and in some sense it replaces the grading rubrics that students are well exposed to in their academic years.
Hence, students must also be ready to face those challenges. I have noticed a trend of how some students would feel a sense of entitlement, expecting to be spoon-fed. Make no mistake, guidance is what it is and being spoon-fed is another. There are also students who have spoken directly of just wanting to get their academic scrolls for the sake of obtaining a degree and to get on with life. What really is important here is for students to learn, understand and apply not only textbook knowledge but also industrial experiences that have been shared by their lecturers.
The attitude towards learning has changed over the years. What used to be full attention and dedication has now somewhat morphed into a “couldn’t care less” attitude towards attendance, assignments and lectures. Let us not even talk about tardiness, skipping classes and disappearing from online classes despite their status showing that they are online. I reiterate that not all students have such a lackadaisical attitude towards learning. There are still many who care.
Please do not misunderstand, the situation is as such but it does not mean that lecturers and tutors have given up. It is our duty as educators to not only share knowledge and teach, but also to instill and inculcate good values and attitudes into students. This responsibility, in my opinion, is shared across all who uphold the duty to educate, teach, guide and tutor. Every educator speaks from the heart that they only have the best intentions for each and every one of their students. These intentions stem from genuine care and above all, concern for their students.
Education is a learning curve and we all continue to learn from each other. Students learn from lecturers and vice versa. This makes us better people as we are all working towards a common objective of peace and harmony, and upholding values of respect, humility, care and kindness are the pillars of nation-building to contribute to a better Malaysia.
Yeap Ming Liong
*The writer’s highest academic appointment is to the post of Adjunct Senior Lecturer and he has been teaching both in private and public universities.