Friday, December 01, 2006

This used to be my playground / "Arts students should shape up or ship out"

"When you are young, the world's your playground.
When you grow up, the world's your battlefield."
- Ugly (2006 - personal communication)

The early years had seen the best days.

Hoops/Hantan bola after tuition/school, daily dosages of (seemingly) endless cartoons; then 'graduated' to soccer (while trying to escape from nearby residents' hounding and chasing us away for disturbing their peace) and (watching people play) arcades...

Of course, there were costs involved, sometimes (often?) not monetarily-related directly - muddy socks and shoes, bruises/cuts/scars/cramps/broken limbs (not me though), torn shorts (that's me), 'burnt' pockets (all those snacking at fast food joints after a day's exhaustion on the field/court)...

In short:

'Summer' of one's life.

蔡琴 - 被遗忘的时光

是谁 在敲打我窗
是谁 在撩动琴弦
那一段 被遗忘的时光
慢慢地 回升我心坎

是谁 在敲打我窗
是谁 在撩动琴弦
记忆中 那欢乐的情景
慢慢地 浮现在我的脑海

那缓缓 飘落的小雨
不停地 打在我窗
只有那 沉默无语的我
不时地 回想过去

是谁 在敲打我窗
是谁 在撩动琴弦
那一段 被遗忘的时光
慢慢地 浮现在我的脑海

Sounds a tad familiar? Abit irrelevant here - but heck, no time's a good time to reject a good song.


In contrast, everyday feels like a battle.

Fighting against self's body to wake up from bed.

Fighting against fellow commuters - flagging a cab, boarding the bus/train, getting a seat on the bus/train, getting into the lift.

Fighting against friends for grades - think Bell Curve.

Fighting against time - think deadlines, term papers.

Fighting against stereotypes and stereotyping.

This society is merciless.


Trying to get my hands on the online version of this TNP article written by this Pol. Sci. undergrad, implicitly berating (at least that's how I interpret it - thank goodness for, erm, CDA) Arts graduates for complaining about not securing jobs after graduation - she hinted that it would be due to their lack of enthusiasm in hunting for openings way before graduation, or the inability/lack of foresight of Arts people to apply for internships, as compared to those from other faculties. HERE it is. (or HERE.)

"The Electric New Paper

Arts students should shape up or ship out

THERE is constant discussion on campus about why graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are unable to land jobs easily.
By Ratna Tiwary
02 December 2006

THERE is constant discussion on campus about why graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are unable to land jobs easily.

I read in the papers some months back about a woman lamenting her jobless fate as an arts honours graduate despite having submitted more than 2,000 applications.

[A piece of anecdoctal evidence that has been recontextualised - full context omitted, with only the necessary details provided to substantiate the argument.]

As a final-year arts student, having already had many good offers, I am beginning to think that it's more about the lack of effort put in by undergraduates in looking for a job, or how they go about planning it.

I've done two internships while studying, both of which I found after sending my resume to several companies.

My friends asked why I needed to intern twice, and my answer was simple: Experience helps.

When I began applying for jobs in my last semester, they thought I was too kiasu, but I had the last laugh after landing a job.

[The jobless might congratulate you, but all that this final version of the article can is to frame you as mocking them?]

On the one hand, I agree that many globally-ranked universities have excellent career placement programmes, something local universities are still trying to establish by widening and strengthening alumni relations - in the hope that alumni members will offer job opportunities to new graduates.

[Rhetoric: Trying to provide a balanced argument; the final version of the article projects the image of one placing oneself on an objective pedestal - along the lines of "I'm not racist against the blacks, but...." ]

But how much longer will our students be spoon-fed everything?

[Surprise. Rhetorical question: Presupposes that Arts students have already been spoon-fed for quite some time.]

The job market is expanding, but it seems that nothing is good enough for our fresh graduates, least of all arts graduates who expect reserved seats in the civil service.

[Generalisation: That arts graduates desire a crack at the civil service. The truth? Go ask around.]

I spoke to an assistant dean at the National University of Singapore for an interview I was conducting for the faculty newsletter last year, and his comments stayed with me.

[Device used: Quoting an 'expert', someone who might seem to be familiar with the situation at hand, to lend credibility to said argument.]

He said that most arts graduates begin job hunting only after graduation, when the good positions have generally been taken by foreign-educated graduates or more proactive students.
The other problem is, few graduates bother dressing up for interviews, with many turning up in jeans or even shorts. Some students just do not bother, assuming their degree will 'take them places'.

[Reason one: Quoting the expert removes the need for further substantiation through concrete evidence.
Reason two part one: See comments below next paragraph. In addition, How many is "many?"
Reason two part two: Who are these "some?" This is the first time I've heard such judgements made about (a certain population of) arts graduates. Granted, myself doesn't know that many people from other depts. This could well be true, but probably not for me until I have met people who hold this belief.]

Such an attitude not only reflects badly on them, but eventually, on the faculty and university as well. Which company would want to hire someone with no grooming skills?

[Seems like a personal comment disguised as a logical summary of the previous paragraph, by being situated immediately after the 'expert's' comments. Ain't FASS the most hip and happening faculty? Granted, there are people who come to school dressed in berms/shorts and ragged t-shirts (Ugly's one of them), but does this speak for their personal awareness and concept of personal grooming? (My own rhetorical question - answer's obviously NO.) Flawed generalisation.
Rhetorical question again - Chances are, most companies wouldn't. But then, what happened to MERITOCRACY?]

Foreign students turn up for career talks and seminars in suits and ties; local students go in casual wear. For all the good intentions the alumni may have of hiring local students, can we blame them for taking on 'foreign talent'?

[Compare and contrast: US vs. THEM. Generalisation (again). You think it holds?
Rhetorical question again. Man, the article's heaped with rhetorical questions...]

In mixed faculty classes, the ones who seldom complete assignments are generally arts students.

[... and Generalisations. Substantiate PLURRRRESSSSEEE. Or are the evidence being weeded out from the final write-up?]

Unfortunately, these habits have carried over into working life for some students, and this minority has created an image of arts grads that others have to live down.

[Finally acknowledges that not all arts graduates are 'rotten.' But is this, the continuation of such behaviour into the working lives of said minority being trackked, for such a statement to be made?
Inducing feelings of guilt into said minority.
"... that others have to live down..." - hints at some motivational point behind this piece of writing; the notion of '(saving) face.']

During an interview with a foreign publishing company, my interviewer was surprised to learn that I consciously chose to join the faculty, and not because I could not get into Law or Medicine.
[FASS is still being perpetually seen as a dumping ground by others. Shows how much this society values the "softer" academic subjects. Actually, I shouldn't use "soft" - it implies a sort of inferiority w.r.t. the "hard."
By the way, so did a alot of arts students nowadays (at least, THIS is what I truly believe in) when they indicate their choice of faculty for admission into university.]

I know of an arts undergrad who is pursuing her degree with less than half-hearted interest, doing a degree with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants on the side, and a dance diploma as a backup. According to her, she's doing this merely to be known as an NUS grad.

[My turn for a rhetorical qustion: Is it only arts undergraduate(s) who is/are doing this?]

These students are a minority, but that doesn't mean they can be ignored.

[Again, disclamier that underlines the implication of a "minority" population - but after the sub-argument is laid out. Of course they can't be ignored, but neither can they be generalised as such.]

The university ought to assess the capabilities of its students and their aptitude for the arts field before granting them admittance.

[Incoherence of the article starts here (perhaps due to work of the ediorial team?). An implicational relationship along the lines of: "Minority of arts students are not really interested in their major subjects when they had been admitted into FASS, and therefore this might manifest into their less-than-enthusiastic attitude towards seeking employment upon graduation, which means that (A-)NUS needs to implement some sort of means-testing to see who really needs a piece of tertiary education in the arts and social sciences.
Also implies that "capabilites" and "aptitude for the arts field" can be quantified statistically - the first, probably; the second, how do one come up with an accurate gauge of another's aptitude using one test, supposing that the institution might not have the time and/or resources to rigorouly and vigorously carry out such an assessment on the thousands of (local AND foreign) applicants annually, unlike SIA who purportedly can make 2 applicants undergo several rounds of interview and assessment for 2 positions? ]

There are already interview procedures in place for borderline students wishing to enter the faculty; and although I can see logistical difficulties, I think this procedure should be extended to all students applying for the faculty.

[An interview should suffice?]

I take pride in my degree, and I know that I have worked for it. It was a choice I made to pursue a career in the arts field.

[I applaud you for it, I feel happy for you. However, the final article places you as someone who does not assume that everyone else, or for this matter, that the minority do not want to feel the same way as you. It should be clear that meritocracy (and THIS society) has its faults and loopholes too.]

How many of my fellow final-year university mates can say as much?

[Rounding up with a(nother) rhetorical question, masqueraing as a self-reflexive question probably intending to put the onus back at the reader (and specifically, the 'minority' hinted in the article) to defy the argument. How convincing.]

The writer is a third-year political science [?!] and South Asian studies undergraduate at NUS. To give feedback, e-mail"

Come. On.

And to think she authored
this earlier article...

Shall post her latest write-up soon.

I feel like submitting a reply. But will the MSM publish it in earnest, in its true full purity? I doubt it.


I actually got better after working.

Am I really that crazy?


Something light-hearted, in the midst of all the angst and bitterness.



It's been a year since the road to MA had started.

Welcome December.

PS: I'm told that my posts have become much less 'emetic' and 'far less nausating experience(s)' - I'm becoming more 'macro'-y, I guess.

Signing off............ 我不要做断点..........

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