Build on health and abilities
TO QUOTE a cliche: Youth is wasted on the young. Why? Because we spend so much time and effort chasing the five material Cs - cash, condominium, credit card, car and country club - that society expects us to possess.
But I know life as a youth is more than just about those Cs. And perhaps it is about more than just the four Cs that the Education Minister listed as well. (According to Dr Ng Eng Hen, students need confidence, compassion, compartments and company to get the most out of university life.) I believe personal happiness and success are built upon the foundations of one's health and the harnessing of one's abilities - hence the following Cs of my own:
Be 'carefree': We should all invest more time in leisure activities to relax and unwind, it is as simple as that.
Watch our 'calories': We live in a society where health is increasingly taken for granted. This generation of primary and secondary schoolchildren spends far more time playing computer games than paying attention to exercise and health.
Know your 'capacities': We ought to keep growing and improving. If we do not push ourselves holistically during our youth, we will never know how much we are capable of or can contribute to society.
Keith Neubronner, 20, recently graduated with a diploma in communications and media management from Temasek Polytechnic
Beware of burning out
DR NG'S proposed four Cs are values most can identify with. Having completed my freshman year, I can attest to their effectiveness, especially 'compartments' and 'company'. In university, there is the temptation to try out everything. If you have too much on your plate, you might burn out from over-commitment.
In my freshman year, I was all over the place, straddling various commitments from studies and co-curricular activities to part-time jobs. At the end of the day, I was left feeling unfulfilled because I could not take the time to truly appreciate the activities for what they were worth.
Also, there's nothing like friends to tide you over tough times - those willing to lend you notes when you miss lessons and those who will have lunch with you when everyone else is mugging. They make the journey more worthwhile and tolerable.
Besides, we have a lifetime after graduation to pursue the material Cs.
Chew Zhi Wen, 21, has finished his first year in law at NUS
Beyond the gates of university
THE Education Minister's four Cs for university life are good recommendations, but since it has been three years since I left university for the working world, the values that work for me have changed somewhat.
I do not covet the traditional five Cs as much as I did in my younger days. After all, transient possessions like a car and credit cards disappear as easily as they appear.
My four Cs now, to add to Dr Ng's list, are 'career', 'curriculum', 'character' and 'company'.
I define 'career' as working in a company where I can be happy and grow. I try to gain as much experience as I can from each job, no matter how small, to prime myself for the next one.
That leads to 'curriculum' - the aptitude for learning, whether at work or in life. That includes taking external courses whenever possible to build one's resume. For instance, my French-language courses are a crucial step towards my dream job of working for Cirque du Soleil.
I see 'character' as my conduct in society; through words and actions, how people see me and how I see myself.
Finally, 'company' refers to my relationships with loved ones and making time to keep in touch with them.
Aisha Mostafa, 23, graduated from the University of Huddersfield in 2006. She works in the arts and for a cafe chain
Paradigm shift needed
AS SOMEONE who will matriculate in two years' time, I could not agree more with Dr Ng's four Cs.
They focus on the social links between Singaporeans and emphasise the human workforce as the lifeline of our nation. Are the values of cash, condominium, credit card, car and country club still valid in the economic crisis and amid retrenchment woes? Yes, but they are no longer the fruits of a nation's success. Material possessions disappear over time, but the bonds that we form with one another are the key to survival.
Only when good relations are made and priorities set will we be capable of riding out these tough times. Many of my army peers have taken up part-time studies to brush up skills they will need in varsity life while I try to keep in contact with school teachers long after graduation and seek their advice on further education.
Singapore needs a paradigm shift to the minister's four Cs in cherishing what we have and not taking things for granted. They help manage our limited resources and ensure our social stability in sailing such uncharted waters.
Jonathan Liautrakul, 19, has a place to read arts and social sciences in NUS
Relax, be a bit cheeky in class
AFTER having ploughed through university for four years, I realise there's one thing many of my peers sorely need - cheekiness.
I've endured countless classes and tutorials in which everyone sits ram-rod straight and ardently takes down whatever the professor or tutor is uttering for fear of missing out on something profound.
Whenever the floor is thrown open, a few enthusiastic souls proffer answers with all the seriousness of contestants on The Apprentice, while others are too afraid or 'paiseh' to even squeak a syllable.
Hardly anyone smiles. Even the professor's sincere attempts at joking are met with scattered nervous laughter.
Why the intensity, guys? Why not lighten up, hang loose a little and derive some fun out of class? The professor is there to help us learn. He's not that creature that sizes up your good and bad deeds on Judgment Day.
As the saying goes: There's a time for everything, and that time is university.
Why am I not surprised such kill-joy behaviour translates readily into the coldness of the average workplace after graduation?
Eisen Teo, 24, recently graduated with honours in history at NUS
This article was first published in The Straits Times.