A Level 2016 Student Feature: Finding the Right Balance

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By Md Khairillah (16A01B), Melissa Choi (16S06B), Kristal Ng (16S07C), Jeanne Tan (17A01B), Khin Yadanar Oo (17A13A) and Nicole Doyle (17A01A)
Photos courtesy of Chang Po Chun (16S03K), Cheng Zimin (16S03B) and Guan Xin (17S06B) of the Raffles Photographic Society

This is Part 1 of our 2016 A Levels Student Feature.

The A Levels capture the cognitive aspect of a Rafflesian’s education, but there is so much more to the Rafflesian experience than just academics. Ensconced in the Innovation Centre on the day of the results, we at Raffles Press had the opportunity to interview some truly noteworthy Rafflesians and find out their stories. The first part of our feature features advice from Rafflesians who’ve mastered the art of balancing between a seemingly limitless amount of commitments.

Koh Qi Qian

Elisa Yukie Yokoyama

Many of you may know Yukie (15S03A) as the national sailor, who clinched the gold medal in the recently concluded SEA games. Unsurprisingly, Yukie started Sailing at the age of 9, and has been on the national team since the age of 11.

She jokes that she can even be considered a ‘full-time sailor, half-time student’. Sailing has taught her life lessons of responsibility, independence, and resilience, because ‘if you give up, you’ll just be stuck in the middle of the sea.’ For Yukie, the importance of time management was learnt amidst the sea of academics and CCA. she learned the importance of time management amidst the sea of academics and CCA. In J1, she often had trainings up to four times a week, where she would return home at around 8.30-9pm. She cut down on her trainings in J2, and in the 5 months leading up to A Levels, concentrated solely on her studies.

Surprisingly for Yukie, sailing and academics complemented each other. Sailing was a ‘good break from studying’; and studying, a respite from battling the waves. Her tight schedule bestowed upon her a greater sense of urgency to do work, because it then became clear that time was limited and needed to be spent productively. Not many may know of Yukie’s other passions: she took H1 Geography at JC and is keen to pursue Environmental Science at University. While she remains undecided on pursuing Sailing as a career, she is currently aiming to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

Beyond the personal development Sailing has offered her, she also recognises that Sailing is not a solo sport — you can’t excel by yourself. A case in point would be the Junior Boat Optimist competition, where Singapore managed to do well because they were a strong team. Yukie believes that all her achievements are based on the whole team — the sparring, coaches, and teammate pushing her. On that note, Yukie would like to thank her classmates, batchmates, coach, family for their continued support throughout her six years in the Raffles family.

Her advice to future batches? Be disciplined and plan your time well, prioritise what you want to do every week. Be determined and resilient. A levels may be very intense, but just hang on there. Also, she believes that consistency is key to studies. “Do your work as fast as you can so it doesn’t pile up. You will never get the load off.”

Samantha Neubronner

Samantha Neubronner

JC life is packed for most of us, but this was especially so for Samantha Neubronner (15S03Q) in Year 6. A national sailor, she took part in the SEA games in Year 6, even clinching the 420 Women’s Gold medal in the 2015 SEA games. “It made my whole school experience more interesting,” she confesses, admitting to having spent a lot of time training. The pressure was especially on her last year, with the competitions happening at home.

Despite this, Samantha learned to manage her time between school and sport.  In fact, she notes that sailing pushed her to make better of use for her time and made her treasure whatever free time she had. As the A Levels neared, Samantha also made a conscious effort to prioritize her studies over her other pursuits

Samantha names her teachers and classmates among those who supported her through the intense A level period. Interestingly enough, Samantha also gave thanks to the people who studied beside her in the school library. “When you’re in the library, somehow seeing the other people there makes you feel like you’re not alone, like a whole Raffles family,” she points out.

Her advice for Year 6s is to start early and not to be disheartened. “I didn’t do well for CT1, as [my sailing competition] was right before that, but I kept trying and it eventually worked out.”


Daniel Tan

Tan Yeong Cherng Daniel

If you wanted to sum up Tan Yeong Cherng Daniel’s (15S06P) JC experience in a word, it would probably be ‘hectic’. As a member of both volleyball and Bridge Club, he managed a terrific balancing act of representing the school on both fronts. Every week, he would complete all his school work on non-training days to keep up with his studies. “You don’t really need to study that much during term time,” he remarks.

When A-Levels came around however, it was a different story altogether. He recounted his experiences of studying until the library closed, where time lost meaning outside of the number of papers he managed to complete. He was especially grateful for the friends who studied alongside him during the exam period. “It’s positive peer pressure- when your friends are studying, it makes you want to study too.”

Still, he concluded that JC was one of the best experiences of his life, and that it was his CCA friends who remained close to him after their graduation. His advice to Year 6s in sports? “Enjoy your season first, then focus on studies. But don’t forget your basics, basics are very important.”

Justin Tan

Justin Tan Tse

Looking at Justin Tan Tse’s academic commitments alongside his co-curricular ones can be quite daunting. Besides taking two H3s (and thus 13 units), Justin was also a member of the floorball school team and in his spare time, even found the opportunity to start a programme to tutor weaker students over at the Y1-4 side.

When asked about what inspired him to commit to volunteer work in spite of his many commitments, Justin locates his inspiration in his stint as a peer support leader in the Y1-4 side, even accompanying some of his Year 2 juniors in the Malaysian Montage programme. Through his extensive interaction with juniors, Justin was inspired by the enthusiasm and drive they displayed. For him as a senior, he felt ‘a certain obligation to help these students stretch their potential.’ Even now, his Year 5 juniors are carrying on Justin’s legacy, and in fact his program has managed to help weaker students excel in their studies.

Justin’s story is even more impressive when one looks at his CCA journey in Y5-6. Despite having no prior experience in floorball, Justin entered floorball and worked gruellingly hard, eventually making it to the school team in Y6. His readiness to face challenges is evident even now in his career of choice: professing an interest in the police force, Justin is attracted to the dynamism of the job that features different challenges everyday. ‘Work,’ he notes with a laugh should be where ‘we do something useful for the community and somewhere with exciting new experiences.’

Concealed behind his many accomplishments is also a mind that is very much self-directed in planning his academic and non-academic commitments. Justin would advise his juniors to set up their own personal plans on how to improve and to be very clear of the syllabus requirements when studying. Self-directed learning ‘is very important for people who want to go beyond.’ This includes knowing what will happen in the year ahead, and knowing what do in the year ahead.

Justin wishes to thank his Civics Tutor Miss Stacy Tan for taking the time to talk individually to her students to understand them more, making school a much more warmer place for him.

Raffles Press would like to wish them the best in their future endeavours!

129860cookie-checkA Level 2016 Student Feature: Finding the Right Balance


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