The first and foremost important decision that every Male Singaporean faces, once they reach the age of eighteen, is to choose between serving the nation or pursuing higher education.
In reality, it’s not much of choice since the two years of National Service (NS) will arrive one way or another but choosing to do it before or after can impact the person you become. There are significant benefits to choosing either option and like most things, it also has its disadvantages.
If you choose to pursue higher education first, things tend to proceed with ease as you’re in the momentum of studying. Thus, picking up subjects and doing well in them becomes second nature. And with the bonus of other students being around the same age as you, your days are more enjoyable and sociable.
However, the struggle comes once you find yourself out in the world after finishing your NS. Due to the two year gap, the education you received before NS becomes rusty and often irrelevant to the current age. You find yourself struggling with interviews without the necessary knowledge and skillsets. In the end, you’ll have to take on additional courses to keep up with the times and hope that it is enough to secure a job.
If you choose to serve NS first, you are opting to clear off the two-year gap as quickly as you can. Apart from that, NS teaches you the reality of the real world quicker and moulds you into someone who can handle.
This forced growth helps to shape your perspective maturely and will help a great deal after NS. I say this because the real struggle begins when you return to higher studies and realise that your mind isn’t as situated as before for studying.
You’ll have to work even harder than the rest to adapt your mindset to cope with your studies, while the rest would be having an easier time. And most of your peers will be younger than you; hence, fitting in also becomes an issue. However, if you can overcome the struggles; then you’ll have an easier time to deal with interviews and land yourself a job.
Thus, no matter what you choose you’re somewhat screwed with struggles one way or another, and that’s the reality of life. And despite it all, it will make you a person who is better equipped to handle difficult situations in the future. In the end, it’s not about the destination, but the journey.