An Open Letter to Twelfth Graders

By Amrin Pisey

lacie-slezak-128106-unsplash-min.jpgPhoto by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Dear beloved juniors,

Congratulations! You are now a high school graduate!

Are you satisfied with the result? Maybe some of you are feeling disappointed for the grade you got, right? We are the same because I had gone through that too.

When I was a twelfth grader, I had given it all my best effort for the whole year. I struggled to take up a new habit, like spending half of the day at school taking extra classes, going to bed at midnight, and getting up in the early morning just to practice doing the exercises and review the lessons. All of this was only for the two-day battlefield.

But when the result was released, I felt defeated. Cue the mental breakdown.

abbie-bernet-329631-unsplash-min.jpgPhoto by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

I know how hard it is to accept the result. If you are like me, you may feel disappointed because you didn’t get a good grade like your friends did. And now, you may be feeling down because you are blamed by your parents, humiliated by your relatives and looked down by your friends. Or, you are getting lost because you don’t know what to do and what to face next with your bad grade.

corinne-kutz-157292-unsplash-min.jpgPhoto by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Don’t worry, guys!

It is normal to be feeling like that. You are not alone because there are many people out there who are feeling the same way. Everything will be alright! You are not a loser. It’s okay to be blamed by your parents, humiliated by your relatives, or looked down by your friends because you have already tried your best. It’s not the time to worry too much about the result. You gain nothing from doing so but regret, fear and hurt. You don’t have to stress out too much because this grade will not determine your whole future at all.

To calm your mind a bit, let me walk you through what’s happened in my life since graduating from high school.

Having got a grade C, I was really nervous and scared, since I didn’t know what struggles I would face in my university life. In my new class,  I felt intimidated because almost all of my classmates were top students in their high school. I was ashamed when I knew that I was the only one who got C in the class, while most of my classmates got A and B. I was also frustrated when I saw my high school friends being so happy with the good grade they got.

I asked and blamed myself. Why I was so useless? How could I survive my university life with such a grade?

However, this feeling gradually faded away when I realized that the performance in university is totally not based on how well you did on your high school exam. Only hard work and commitment affect performance.

At university, you will be introduced to different new subjects you have never learned in high school. It actually requires you to adopt a new approach of learning and preparing for an exam. Your national exam grade is barely relevant at all in university, except as part of the requirement to get into some majors.

In my case, I majored in English (despite my poor English background) and International Studies. Almost all of the courses had never been taught in high school before. So, everything was mostly new to everyone in class. Whether you got grade A or E on your high school national exam, you are still required to start new things from the beginning. So, it is not too late to improve yourself. There are more days, weeks, months and years to go.

We cannot predict what the future will hold. So, don’t ever assume that having a bad grade is like the end of the world. There are people who didn’t do as well as they wanted to in their final years of high school, but then turned this around to be successful in their university and career lives by challenging and improving themselves.

logan-isbell-672551-unsplash-minPhoto by Logan Isebell on Unsplash

I have a few friends who got grade D and E and weren’t satisfied with their grade at all. But they took this lesson as the opportunity to make their life better and succeed.

My friend who got grade D on the national exam made up for her grade by studying hard to pass the entrance exam at a very tough university. Since then, she has dedicated herself to studying until becoming one of the outstanding students in her class. Now she is also a popular public speaker at her school’s debate club. More than that, she takes other opportunities to improve herself by joining social activities, such as internship and volunteering. And now she already has a stable job while she is just in her junior year.

Similarly, my friend who got grade E on the national exam has also committed to studying hard in university. As a result, he has passed each year’s final exam at his university with flying colors. Even better, he is now preparing to go abroad for an exchange program.

See? There is nothing to worry about with your grade. What’s done is done. You will have many more opportunities to measure your success when you start university. As long as you don’t give up, everything is possible.

element5-digital-352046-unsplash-minPhoto by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

So now, it is probably not the time to worry about having a bad grade. It is the time to decide which path you are going to walk for another 4 years or more, which is choosing your major in university.

Perhaps, some of you already have your dream jobs and aim to study in a particular major. No matter what your dream is, which major you choose and how people view it, as long as it doesn’t harm other people and it benefits the society, don’t dismiss it. Please always find the courage to pursue what you love and commit to your goal.

However, if you don’t have a clear vision about your future, please don’t be upset yet. You will have more time to discover yourself at the university. I am sure that when you get into university, you will meet new people, learn new things, find out about your true passion and clearly define who you are and where your place is in the world.

Be strong and accept the result. Being a high school graduate is not the end yet, but it is the new beginning of another life journey. More accomplishments are waiting for you to achieve in the years to come. So keep on your hard work!

Always remember that just one exam result does not represent your true potential as a human being.

With love,

Your senior


Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.

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