Are Mediocre 5th Graders Likely to Retire Comfortably at Age 40?


The Kid, Mrs MM and I are totally amused by this American television program called “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” Besides the fact that some of the questions are completely American biased, like the first names of American Presidents, we seem to do reasonably well as couch contestants. So it was rather amusing that I found my 4th, 5th and 6th grade report cards and realized I wasn’t even a “smart” 5th grader! With grades averaging in the low to mid-80’s, otherwise labeled “Satisfactory,” I was probably ranked close to the middle of a class of say 35-40 students at a local Catholic school I attended for 3 years until my parents figured out it was a potentially disastrous choice… I told the Kid I found my report cards from this school were “Fathers” could whack you with a ruler if they wanted (new laws on child abuse were to take effect only 20 years later) and she was just dying to see my scores. I think impressionable young minds always look up to older role models, and often assume older folks did well in school… But the reality is I think grades in primary school are a poor predictor of eventual success in life…

As parents, Mrs. MM and I are obviously concerned about The Kid’s education, particularly in this day and age when there are just so many kids and it seems the number of schools hasn’t kept pace with population growth… Of course we hope that she does well at school, and are supportive, but hopefully not suffocatingly so. My area of coverage is Math, while Mrs. MM oversees English. In the past two years, The Kid has probably come to me just 2-3 times total to seek some assistance in understanding a math problem. Otherwise, she has done very well on her own. I feel the closest negative genetic link we possess is a weakness for Filipino (National Language) and I can’t even say the family is Cebuano as I did in my childhood days when my parents spoke to each other in the Visayan dialect but spoke to us only in English, with no Tagalog in use in our household at all. So my grades in Filipino in primary school at 75 or 76 or so, just a point shy of outright FAILURE, is not a surprise to me at all. And I do regret not being guided into speaking Filipino totally fluently, as I have since come across a few adults that speak it so well (purely Filipino, without English mixed in), that I am ashamed I couldn’t master it as well. Mind you, I think my brain is missing the language filing cabinets as despite lessons in Japanese, three years of Spanish and three years of French I can speak none of those languages today. I have a passable basic verbal proficiency in Bahasa Indonesian after living in Jakarta for several years…

My grades in high school were likewise uninspired, and my parents adopted a highly laissez faire attitude, with Dad only visiting the campus once in 4 years, when I graduated and had to give a speech as the President of my class. Had I studied more in High School I might have ended up at a “better” college, but these days, the top 10% of any large international school would have difficulty getting into my Boston alma mater. I was much more focused in college, and managed to graduate magna cum laude, just one or two narrow points away from a summa. It was in college that I decided I needed/wanted to get somewhere in life, on my own gas, so to speak. From there, a few years of work and acceptances from several top-notch Business Schools and I achieved what I set out to do before the age of 40. So this brings up a tricky set of questions… Would I rather be well educated or ambitious/driven? Both, but if only one, driven. Would I rather be smart or lucky? Both, but if only one, lucky. Would I rather have a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient)? Both, but if only one, EQ. But most of all, what I would want is a PASSION or DRIVE for something, because I think it is a person with passion, drive, luck and a high EQ that is much more likely to lead a “successful” adult life than someone who only ever aced their grades, and buried themselves in textbooks… But then again, there are so many paths to be taken from 5th grade to retirement, and mine might just be one of the more unusual ones. Can you still recall how you did in 5th grade? :)


56 Responses

  1. When it comes to your life’s pursuits, do you really believe in luck? I don’t. Did you ever notice – the harder you try the luckier you are?

  2. I also had difficulty in the Filipino subject back in high school, especially in grammar! My father (being half-Tagalog and half-Bisaya who grew up in QC) is of little help because he’s not really at home often. When I first studied here in UP Diliman, I had difficulty with the language, and I missed home so much that I hung out and speak Bisaya with my high school classmates a lot. After we transferred dorms we’d see each other less and I was “forced” to speak Tagalog more often. Now, I’m able speak decent conversational Tagalog but there are still some deep words that I can’t understand. I guess no-frills Tagalog is enough here in Metro Manila.

  3. Mindanao Bob, I definitely believe in some degree of luck, but yes, opportunity and knowing what to make of it could be misinterpreted as luck… But I do know a few people who try really hard but don’t get anywhere. k. ramos, a Marketman example used last weekend when I stopped the car curbside at a “secured” development and the roving guard asked what I was doing there, I answered “Mayroon lang na-ipit sa ilaw na hinihintay namin.” Or literally translated, “one of the cars in our party got stuck at the stoplight and I am just waiting for them before driving on…” hahaha. He was so beffudled by my answer that he walked away instead.

  4. Life thus far has been mostly aleatory. My fifth level grades were mediocre, upper seventies to mid eighties. We were neither prodded nor reprimanded on our grades though mother quietly exhorted us to confront our fears so I took all the optional subjects in high school, mostly mathematics, which paid off later on. If you live long enough you will detect in it certain ironic turns. In university, a cousin had to move to another school after failing mathematics of investments, she retired early after making a killing in the stock market later on. Back in fifth grade I had a friend whose dad looked after a sprawling fishpond property so we were just a scoop of the net away from fresh seafood. I hiked the mountains with him to gather wild duhat (lomboy), gugo (shampoo), wild dilaw (turmeric) and varied types of vines for our basketry class.

  5. I was an above average student all through elementary and high school (with a bad bout of senioritis though! nightmare flashbacks of that year!!!).
    There was an article that came out recently, a researcher correlated GPAs and success in life. Most of those making millions of dollars were more likely to be B and C students. the only good being a straight A student did was to get one into a good college, which leads to possible exposure to a good network of friends later. But most of the more successful people in the US went to a state university. Being driven and a good amount of luck with a dash of EQ is definitely the best equation for success these days, probably always has been!

  6. I joined my first anti government rally when I was in 5th grade. I preferred joining rallies and demonstrations than suffering math.

  7. I was an honor student in 5th grade, and throughout elementary and high school for that matter.

    College, however, was an entirely different story: “pasang awa” became the norm.

    I went on to work as a Software Engineer in New York for 16 excruciating but character-building years. Now at age 37, I no longer work for money and have returned home to do good.

    I hope kids of today and tomorrow are able to follow their bliss and not just forced into something out of sheer pragmatism. Not everyone can be as lucky as I was. ;)

  8. “a local Catholic school I attended for 3 years until my parents figured out it was a potentially disastrous choice… ”

    — Why so? Because of the physical punishment, or the school’s unsatisfactory education system?

  9. My kids suffer through AP (Araling Panlipunan) and Pilipino classes because I speak the same sort of topsy-turvy tagalog that you do. Thank god for my yaya and driver, who I have to call on to translate words like “dalubhasa” and “pangasiwaan”… Other than pinoy, yes, Im smarter than my 5th-grader son :)

    Slightly off-tangent, I am always appalled at the typos and grammatical mistakes in my children’s schoolbooks, especially in their english and reading books! Whatever happened to the case against Phoenix Publishing?

  10. In my opinion, having poor grades in primary is a minor factor in predicting a person’s success in later life. It is diligence, hard work, perseverance and discipline that makes one successful. Social relationships and the school where one graduated from greatly matters to achieve this success too!

  11. in my opinion, when people get a’s in class, aside from being smart, they’re also very disciplined and matiyaga to study…and those 2 traits will bring them far in life as opossed to someone who’s naturally smart but lazy in life.

  12. Haha, my worst subject in elementary school was Pilipino as well! I don’t know why. It wasn’t like I was very good with English at that time… and I didn’t really speak much Fukien as well. Supposedly our (siblings) Tagalog “sucks”, for some strange reason.

    And, I think it has stayed at the same level as it was in grade 5. Although, thank God, the English is exponentially better. ;D

  13. I was a B student.I regret not taking my elementary and high school seriously. I believe what Homebuddy said, that poor grades is a minor factor to a person’s success. I myself when I attended post graduate training in USA ,I became smarter because of exposure to work and life experiences. Being smart is continuing process.It does not stop after college. Reading, travelling and attending classes are some of the life activities that you can’t ignore, it makes you smarter not just your IQ but EQ as well.

  14. The problem with that game show is”The kids are tune in to academic subjects and we are not because time flies and we cannot remember what we learned then and our mind at the present is tune in to our daily livelihood and needs”.

  15. I’m fortunate to have grown up being completely bilingual. While I am more comfortable communicating in English, I am also completely fluent in Tagalog.

    My dad was a professor in Filipino and Philippine Studies and very nationalistic. While my brother and I were groing up, dad made it a point never to speak to us in English. On my mom’s side, up until 1984 grandma taught fourth grade English and other subjects at IS (which I guess is called ISM these days). Mom taught conversational English to expatriate Japanese executives in Manila and was also a senior editor at the business section of the Chronicle for a time.

    Grade school was sort of weird. We weren’t allowed to anything but English while on campus, except during Filipino and “Araling Panlipunan” classes. There was even a period when students caught speaking in Tagalog were actually fined.

    I’m like you with Spanish, MarketMan. I took 15 units in college but I still have only the most basic command of Castillian.

  16. would you rather be street smart vs. school smart? i’d take street smart anytime. my two sons had lackluster grade school and high school grades, sometimes barely making it (76 in Filipino!), but now that they’re both in college, they’ve been excelling, both academically (especially in their major subjects) and in their chosen extra-curricular activities. they have amazing projects and entrepreneurial activities.

    looking back now, i realize there was no reason to fret over grades. the more important things are EQ, confidence, creativity, life skills and the smarts.

  17. Do you know what made me fluent in Filipino back then?—after school I would always hang out at my aunt’s store who had Komiks for rent—-reading Filipino Komiks did it for me!

  18. I really didn’t like my elementary years because of bully students and bully teachers. I studied in a private school where economic class spelled good grades because of the perks teachers get from more “sipsip” rich kids and parents. I learned about discrimination at that young an age. I enjoyed my highschool and college better because there was less of the rigors of basic grammar and mathematics. I also learned I can maintain excellent grades when I was really interested in the subject matter. So, my 5th grade memories are just wondering when the next vacation would be :-).

  19. Such inspiring thoughts indeed….I would rather be driven or passionate towards something I would really like to do and be happy and I would gladly work on my EQ than IQ since in life, you never really stop learning.

  20. My Tagalog has improved a lot when we moved to Greece, imagine that?
    though some say I do not have a thick Visayan accent when I speak Tagalog..

    I was always somewhere 7th or 8th all my teachers complained to my mother that if I do try harder am sure am a lot smarter

  21. Pilipino ruined my report card all my life. Growing up in the province with our own dialect did not seem to warrant learning Pilipino. The only exposure to Tagalog was what we heard on TV from the news and local shows. It sounded very noisy and unpleasant to our Ilongo ears.

    Come college in Manila, “F” in pilipino for the 1st semester!!!!!!!! After many years in Manila, my tagalog has improved. Still not perfect but enough to survive. I guess this is typical of most Filipinos who come from the provinces.

    Pity they took away Spanish in School. Though most never become fluent in conversational skills, at the very least it taught Filipinos to pronounce Spanish words found everywhere, properly. How, I hear people mispronouncing “hacienda, Herrera, Hernaez, Horacio”, etc. incorrectly. They do not know that “H” should never be pronounced. Of well….

    Now English grammar and spelling is taught so badly. It is scary to see what college level students come up with these days.Growing up in the province a generation ago did not mean lesser English and other educational skills. Now even products of some metro Manila schools leave much to be desired.

  22. hi mm-i’ve always liked school and did well throughout, starting with the fifth grade. (before that i was fairly mediocre.) that said, i can’t say i’m not struggling with life as an adult. EQ is definitely the way to go…

    and i’m with you on filipino. most of my family is from manila and one grandparent from bulacan so i can’t say i was surrounded by non-tagalog-speaking-folks. my only excuse (if that is one) is that my grandparents spoke spanish and my folks spoke to us in english. i’ve become more fluent through the years thank goodness. and i have vowed that if i have children they will be fluent in both english and filipino.

    warning: i am going on a rant here. what bugs me the most is that while people are fluent in “taglish”, few can speak either language correctly. i am a stickler for grammar and have to admit that most days i want to go through the newspaper with a red pen. basic rules like using the past tense to speak about the past aren’t even respected. conversely, very few people can speak filipino without pulling out an english (or even spanish word) or two–even when the appropriate filipino word exists! (you can tell this is a pet peeve.) for example, in popular culture people use the word “chansa” to mean opportunity. “pagkakataon” is a perfectly appropriate filipino word. why bother using a bastardized english word?

  23. mojito drinker, I completely get what you are saying… :) Lex, isn’t it funny how none Tagalog speakers have such horrible memories of learning Filipino at school? And to think we were actually the majority in terms of population numbers! Then again, Indionesia did the same thing with Bahasa Indonesia and it seems to have worked for them! millet, yes, street smart over book smart, definitely. fried neurons, your grandmother was at IS when I was there, from 1977 to 1982… but I wasn’t there for fourth grade! Katrina, I spent my earlier years at JASMS, or Jose Abad Santos Memorial School in Quezon City, a highly progressive, mind-opening style of education… and I think the foundation for the way I think today. Then a few years at that Catholic school that was just so different in format and style, then 5 years at IS which simply undid the damage of the previous 3 years. I think I came into my own in college and excelled from then on… I realize not all folks do well in all kinds of schools… Apicio, you are killing me with the vocabulary, I have to do a post soon on a book I am leafing through…

  24. i know that report card. when i was at that school, it was a different color though. haha, i see what you mean about being mediocre–no eagle stickers for you. but really, school grades do matter sometimes, but a lot of times, it’s the person’s attitude towards life and work is what makes them successful in what they do. :)

  25. Wow I’m in good company! I made history for being the first ever in my high school to flunk Pilipino. Learning a language through grammar, conjugation etc is just not fun. In recent years I’ve learn new languages in much more engaging and practical ways; perhaps if Pilipino was taught differently, we’d have learned more then? Agree with Millet that I’d rather be street smart than school smart. And with mojito drinker’s rant re quality of young people’s communication skills nowadays.

  26. hmmm. I was usually in the top 10 from elem. to HS. Sucked at Filipino but did well in Araling panlipunan. Guess I likened it to good stories which helped me retain the facts and figures better. In college I enjoyed more freedom and really did not take studies seriously which made me flunk Algebra thus taking my chance away from getting cum laude rating (GWA was ok but the requirement was you passed all subjects). My kids have a hard time with Filipino too. They grew up in Negros and we speak English at home… They do seem to adjust remarkably well regardless of the handicap. One of my sons even tried to correct his teacher here in Manila that the word for 2 was duha and not dalawa..:)

  27. I would even say that people that were big nerds in college don’t necessarily end up doing great things in their lives. And yes you are right when you say luck (i.e. being at the right place at the right time) matters a WHOLE lot in life.

    I was a big nerd in the 5th grade though …

  28. Education today is big concern most specially since the traditional schools are stressing out the kids. It’s all about homework and huge school bags packed to the brim – very bad for the kid’s back. The kids are taught what to think, when they should be thought how to think. I was was a bit uncertain when I moved my son out of traditional schooling but your article above makes the point. It takes a lot more than just memory work and regurgitated info to succeed in life. When opportunity allows, we need to provide global exposure to the young generation.

  29. Ooops sorry for the typo error. I meant; kids should be taught how to think. It makes them more inquisiitve + analytical.

    I was in the upper 25% of the class. Think of all that info that we studied as kids, we don’t even use them as adults. sigh.

  30. All throughout elementary school & the first 2 years of high school, I just coasted along. My grades were mostly in the 80s (or line of 8s, as we used to say), some in the 90s, some in the 70s. As long as my report card did not have a “red mark”, I was contented. Then, in 3rd year HS I realized that I needed to get serious about studying if I wanted to get into UP. My grades did get better and I did get into UP where I performed even better and made the dean’s list twice.

    Just like you MM, Pilipino was also my waterloo. We had 3 language subjects in school – English, Pilipino and Spanish. My highest was always Spanish and Pilipino was always one of my lowest subjects. Our mother is Cebuano and our first language at home was English. However, our father was Tagalog, and my low grades in Pilipino always disappointed him. Unlike you though, I can speak the language fluently ;)

    I do agree with you that those who lead successful lives are those with passion, drive, luck and high EQ. Now, if only I had those.

  31. I could totally relate to this article!!! I finished high school barely surviving math and Filipino. When my sister finished high school in the same institution, her Filipino teacher tried to motivate the class by saying “Class, don’t feel so bad if you did not do so well in high school. Look at Ria’s sister…she barely made it in my class but she finished college, magna cum laude and topped the board exams”. My sister told me that she did not know how to react…she felt honored and insulted in my behalf at the same time :P.

  32. hmmm…i was just an average student when i was in fifth grade. i hated math…wrote my first script for a drama starring some classmates and me…having trouble sometimes with the nuns because of some mischievous deeds…

  33. Funny, MM. I actually studied at JASMS Manila for three years, because my mother decided that Catholic school was too structured and didn’t allow kids to be kids. A close friend of mine, whom I met in High School, attended JASMS QC for grade school and was probably there while you were.

    It was at JASMS where we were not allowed to speak Tagalog. For about 6 months, they even fined us something like 25 centavos for every Tagalog word we were caught speaking. LOL

    I’m not sure if grandma ever taught any classes in grades 9-12 at IS. She was there for a very long time. I know that Pops Fernandez, Sharon Cuneta, Niño Muhlach, and a number of the Elizalde kids passed through her grade school classrooms.

  34. I had studied at a Catholic school all my life except for college and was a consistent honor student. But yes, street smarts matter much and luck certainly has its advantages given that all other things are equal. I had spanish in my school from kinder to high school so i am able to speak basic spanish and ask directions which was a huge help when I was in Barcelona. We spoke English with the family but Tagalog with the help. So i did well in those 2 subjects. But it’s true that children nowadays can’t speak one language straight. I try to correct my nephews and nieces and they’re so used to it by now. I keep telling them that they’ll thank me in the future, hehe.

  35. EQ over IQ anytime, and street-smarts over book-smarts too! :) My most successful friends today are those who slept or gossiped through most of our classes, cheated their way through quizzes (hmmm, not a good example though :)) and had to be “punished” for breaking most of the rules.

    I have a friend here in HK with an amazing Tagalog vocabulary. She uses “never-heard-of” words (well, never heard of by me, having grown up in a household that spoke English, Fookien or Ilonggo, and having studied in a Chinese Catholic school where we bastardized all words whether English, Tagalog or Chinese)in everyday speech. I have to keep on asking her what they mean, which is sad, since I spent most of my adult life in the Philippines. What is sad too is that my son can speak English like a native speaker, a teensy bit of Mandarin, but speaks very little Tagalog -with a funny accent, to boot! He understands it though, which makes me happy, but I know more effort should be put into making him speak it.

  36. The fact is, “lucky” can trump any of the other choices listed.

    There are those, silver spoon born or not, brainy or not, handsome or not, smart or not, and of course driven or not….. who “possess” a “talent and/or penchant” for luck who always leaves me scratching my head asking myself “where did I go wrong!” LOL Go figure! :-)


  37. I, too, had my lowest marks in Filipino. This was very consistent throughout my stint in grade school. I could not say that I was in a Bisaya-speaking city when both my parents would speak to me in English and Tagalog at home (the only time I got to speak Bisaya was in school, away from the “Egnlish monitors” who charge piso for every non-English and non-Tagalog word spoken during class hours). Other than that, I was an honor student.

    I agree with ragamuffin girl: EQ over IQ, street smarts over books smarts… after all, all the books in the world cannot defend you from robbers unless flung upon their heads.

    In this day and age, education is still predominantly of the traditional style: teacher teaches, students listen and absorb. This says that what teacher says is gospel truth (sort of) but it is nice to see more progressive/alternative styles gaining ground. Especially those that allow the child to learn by himself while exploring a structured/prepared environment. This process of learning is as important as the knowledge gained in the process. It is what life is about, anyway!

    I miss teaching pre-school. =(

  38. once in a Filipino quiz, we were supposed to give synonyms to a given word. for “bulaan’, i proudly wrote “lababo”, not knowing that it will cause a lot of laughter. Turns out that it should be “sinungaling”. i thought i nailed that one because of the root word “bula”. =)

  39. Came across a monograph a few years ago about fortune and luck which its author differentiated as the former being relatively long-term and sustained while the latter coming as individual strokes. Hence, you have reversal of fortune and streak of luck. The example given was you are fortunate if you customarily fly first class and you are lucky if you get bumped to the first class sometimes. The salient point that I got from it is that apparently, you cannot court or propitiate luck, the most you can do is position yourself in its path such as when you buy lottery tickets.

    Needless to say, the book reinforced my believe in luck and wiped out my dependence on it. At this point I want to express surprise at the poor polling of being born gorgeous/handsome (let’s call it cute) in comparison with having drive or indeed being smart or lucky because the way I see it, cute people get better treatment and are generally more favorably looked upon than say, the rest of us. Now is there anything that feels better that being treated well? Or isn’t it why you strive to make a pile so you can pay your way to being treated well later in life. And that’s probably why the promise of beauty and charm has always been a major economic activity ever since an early cave-dweller casually daubed charcoal between her thick brow and eyes. Could it be that this slant is just a peculiarity of the Market Manila group because as I observe others, beauty seems to always trump everything else (my apology to Dew). I know I know, beauty is only skin-deep yada yada… but like it or not it’s a world of hollow appearance out there, sad to point out.

  40. I actually flunked Filipino but managed to still graduate from grade school with average grades. I can’t help it if my family spoke primarily English at home and I grew up with Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. High school didn’t make that great an impact on me but college was an eye opener.

    EQ vs IQ? I’ll definitely go for EQ.
    Beauty a plus? I learned this the hard way. Presentation does make an impact but for the life of me if I’m too lazy to put on make-up or dress up I won’t. :P

  41. I studied at a public school for elementary and moved to private albeit Catholic schools for high school and college. I’ve always been part of the top 20% of my class. The reason for such studiousness – My parents telling us that since we aren’t wealthy, the only thing of value they can leave us is education. And this is something that nobody can ever take away from us.

    I remember my parents working very hard just so all three of us can study at the best schools. Though my mom did not live long enough to see all three of us graduate from college, I’m sure she (and my father who passed away a few years after her) is happy to see all of us start to make something of ourselves because of the education they worked so hard to provide us.

    I just hope that the students of today would realize and appreciate all the hardships that their parents go through just to send them to school.

  42. Talking about grades, this poem is featured in t-shirts being sold in the UP campus (with apologies to Joyce Kilmer):

    I think that I shall never see a grade as lovely as a 3.
    A 3 that’s earned with blood and sweat, when failing is a serious threat.
    A 3 I’ve asked from God all day, knowing praying is the only way.
    Exams are taken by fools like me, but only God can give a 3!

  43. 5th grade hmmmm…. I can distinctly recall two incidents during my 5th grade in a school run by the OP’s (we used to call the nuns Order of the Pangit hehehe). First incident, one that i cannot ever forget, I christened my Science teacher, ahem, “Gila Monster” much to the delight of my classmates, because she was really nasty. Second incident, another case of name-calling, we renamed one “terror” nun from Sister Lorenzana to Sister Rambo (God bless her soul), because all the students would literally cringe upon seeing her. In terms of class standing, I was at the top of the class in 5th grade, just like in the previous years, and in the ensuing years in high school. And like most commenters here, sad to say that Filipino was my waterloo. Just imagine the challenge of being in a college freshman block class in UP Diliman where “Komunikasyon I” was offered, and I got a measly 2.5. Since one was expected to finish the series (Kom 1,2,3), I avoided possible hell by enrolling in “Communication I” the following semester where I got a 1.0 (yehey!). I survived college, graduating with a cum, a few percentage points shy of magna. A good combination of IQ and EQ is ideal, but to survive the rat race, EQ stands out coupled with the drive to excel in whatever chosen field one has elected to pursue.

  44. to ragamuffin girl, you can visit the shops (i think about 3 shops carry UP shirts) at the old but still reliable SC (shopping center) adjacent to the Infirmary (remember the “infirmatay”)…. if i can remember shirts retail from 200-300 pesos, depending on the size, color or design/print.

  45. Apicio,

    Forget about beauty being only skin deep, fact is it’s only in the eye of the holder. I’ll take luck over all the rest. :-0

  46. I did okey in my Catholic school years including as a 5th grader (high 80’s and low 90’s) and got my state college degree and now living the average middle class life here in the States.

  47. Oh yeah, I recall my elementary school years. My attitude in 5th grade (in Elementary School through High School actually) was always one of, “You’ve been given a great deal, so people expect a great deal from you”. So, I was the typical over-achiever – active in sports, active in clubs, active in class, top 3% of the class. My goal was to make it to a top tier Liberal Arts college in the US and I made it. It was in college however, that all the $HIT hit the fan so to speak. Drinking, parties, and just plain old having fun made me lose my way a little bit – just enough that I graduated with a very “average” GPA and resume. Subsequently, I had trouble finding an exemplary first job – and that woke me up. Since then, I’ve had to dig deep to work hard, transfer into a better company, get accepted into a top-tier B-school and do well in the said B-schoo so I could take over the family business and eventually start my own.

    It seems that it doesn’t matter what your circumstances/attitude is in 5th grade – or even 10th grade or 1st year college; what makes the difference is the goals that you set for yourself and the drive that you have to achieve those goals; you can be the smartest person born to this Earth, the most gorgeous or even the luckiest, but if you don’t have the drive to make something of what you’ve been given then it’s not likely to produce much either.

  48. 5th grade was the first time ever that I got a “line of 7” –79 to be exact– for social studies (I think, before they turned it into AP). I do remember the feeling still: shock! The teacher’s reason for giving me this was because I was “talkative”. To prove that my so-called attitude had nothing to do with it, the following quarter, she only managed to give me 86 despite the stellar quizzes & exams because she said, I had a 79 before that…figure that one out.

    I wasn’t an over achiever–more of happy go lucky (not mischievous). I hardly opened books to study but always turned in homeworks. My grades were from low 80’s to mid 90’s (without studying). My late mom was a former teacher so her only wish was for all her kids to go up on stage for a medal. Got tired of the nagging so in 4th grade I kind of focused a bit more. Gave her the medal, never to be repeated. This was the same all the way to college (premed Bio). I only opened books because I was missing some lessons or because everyone else were doing so.

    BTW, not much of a problem with Pilipino, Social Studies (we didn’t have AP-my age shows) though Math gave me a hard time. Trigo, Geom & Stat were my faves!

    I don’t consider myself a financial winner but successful in life, having gone through so many (personal) battles and triumphs…

  49. I believe that people get what they expect… So I only expect (as in focus) on the positive things. It has always worked out for the best…

  50. hey fried neurons,i studied in JASMS manila too. and had the same no tagalog rule. maybe we were classmates then.

  51. @MM: Regarding Filipino/Tagalog, I guess I was a lucky Fil-Am growing up in the US in that my parents only spoke to me in Tagalog. Thus I was half-fluent at an early age. I had complete understanding but extreme difficulty speaking. It wasn’t until I attended Med School in Manila that I was forced to learn spoken Tagalog.

    And speaking as a fellow Boston Alum, I can tell you that the rise of our alma mater from the early 80s when you were there, to it’s current position as a Top-25 American University is absolutely ridiculous. I graduated in the top 10 of my HS Class with decent SAT scores. I worked at the Admissions office my 4 years there and still have contacts with them; and I can honestly say that if I applied now with my same grades/scores as I did in 1996, I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be accepted. They’ve gotten so selective. This you can attribute to Father Monan & Doug Flutie.



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