It gets a little different when I entered the junior college, and A levels was the next higher level after my Os. Now this cert determines your lifepath, kinda. As university cut-off points get more competitive, it's natural for every student to let their life hang by that very string - the A levels. But most still, studied very hard because a decent result probably guaranteed a place in most universities. I studied hard in A lvls, not because I had any form of passion in what I was studying, I was one of those who studied blindly, because I knew the consequences of screwing up in college, and I would have threaded into the path of the unknown. It's like college made you study so hard, yet little skills you can apply in life. However, of course, there're people who already knew what they're aiming for in college, but that's still not the beginning yet. Everyone's still very much stuck in that stressful 2 years, and only having one goal in mind. It doesn't matter if you had dreams or not, alot still depends on that transcript at the end of the day. For some who didn't had an idea of what to do in life, having good results probably already set them up for a good degree in the tertiary level of studies. For others, even dreams were still pretty much alive before receiving the transcript, not having the desired results will set them on a detour to achieving their dreams in life.
So that was all about education; building and proving those fundamentals.
In the university, things change, and varies accordingly. I'm not generalizing, and do not quote me on this. Alright since I'm in the field of health science, I'd start with students in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, chiropractic - all that straightforward and direct path to a professional career in future. I mean, if you're doing medicine, you'll be at the very least, a general practitioner. If you're doing dentistry, a dentist. A veterinarian, and of course chiropractic a chiropractor. Specialisation depends on individual.
Things change, for my case, what's with the constant struggle aiming for straight high distinctions? Will it matter? All I have to do, or rather, is to pass. The whole idea here is to graduate and start working as a professional. For me, these results are not going to show up on my transcript when I apply for a job as a veterinarian, the only thing that will matter in the interview is how you present yourself, and the school you graduate (some employers have a preference for vets from certain schools). It's like, the most important exam is probably my graduating exam, which is really crucial (not saying the other units on dermatology, anatomy, physiology, medicine, toxicology, pharmacology..etc are easy, but minimal is 50% to pass you see). The more important aspect in these career paths is the way we present ourselves to customers, and how we relate in terms of interpersonal relationship. As long as you graduate as a vet and start working, customers are not going to care if you just passed every single of your units at 50% or if you're the top student in the school. Yes, and so you're the veterinarian, and the customer is going to listen to every single word you say. You'll do the surgery, make decisions and prescribe the medicine. No one else is going to do it. So what if you're the top student, it just means you're good in conquering exams, you might not really be a good veterinarian. You can screw up all exams (with minimal decent results at least), have good interpersonal relationships with working colleages, and a good working environment. That's all because the real learning starts when you work, it's impossible for a vet to know everything, literally everything. It's all that experiences and advices from senior vets, the inevitable mistakes you'd make and makes a vet, a vet.
On the flip side, it's definitely not my nature to be just aiming for a pass in my units which really doesn't reflect well on myself. It's individual expectations. My father spent so much on me to see me through 6 years in vet studies, not for me to screw it up and have fun, aiming for a pass. Of course doing well earns you a good reputation in school, but all these will only matter as long as you're a vet student. I'm still doing well, for the very fact I'm still going to apply for the AVA scholarship after my second year. One of the very reasons I've been losing sleep is really because of my school fees. It bothers me at least 20 hours a day on nights where I simply can't put my mind at ease.
Yes, back to the point. I will do well, but there has got to be time for play. I'm not doing my A lvls now, it's not a make it or die situation. International students (or tertiary students) here spend so much on the degree, the school will never fail anyone just because he/she had a 45% overall. There're sub papers..etc which can be done to save the semester. There comes a point like my friend in 4th year of vet, where everyone is just aiming for a pass. Practically the whole class fails and getting a credit (60%) can be regarded as really good. Things like equine medicine, anaesthesia, diagnostic imaging, animal diseases, pathology, dentistry, surgical procedures for tonnes of different reasons, etc etc - the never-ending lectures plus close to 30 contact hours a week including clinical rotations in the farm and veterinary hospital. It seems impossible to squeeze that much of stuff into those little brains.
But yes, aim high, for you'll still be safe even if you fall. Live the life. There's a time for study, and a time for play. Study hard, player harder. Never think of lecture notes when playing! You will only be going through this once, enjoy the process and live the life of no regrets. There's always a glimmer of hope in times of despair. Make life your playground, and everyone else's. :)