Just like everyone wants to be rich, nearly every student wants to become an outstanding student. In fact, being an outstanding student is a noble objective, and there is nothing wrong with this goal. But the problem does lie in the fact that not many students have taken enough quality time to ask themselves WHY they want to become outstanding students, which can be a reason that there are only a few outstanding students in each school. Almost no student has asked “WHY should I become an outstanding student?”

If you had already read many articles in this website, you would have picked up some facts about me that I had been just a normal student until I came to the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL), Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. By the time I had finished high school (and before I got into IFL), I had been a full-time gang who had done so many socially-hated things. I had gotten myself addicted to alcohol and trapped in many serious fights. (If you want to know about my background, click: About)

Before I came to IFL, I had never ever dreamt of becoming a person I am today. I had gone through many traps, obstacles, and hardships before I could achieve impressive academic successes (at IFL), which a lot of people thought to be impossible. Therefore, I knew exactly how it felt like to be on the top of the game, benefited big time, and had a lot of nice things to talk about being an outstanding student. If you want to become an outstanding student but are still not sure why you should be an outstanding student, I highly recommend you read the following reasons:

I. Emotional benefits
If I am not mistaken, no one in the world wants to feel sad or mad; everyone wants to feel good even though they choose different ways to make themselves feel good. As for students, I can say that there is no better feeling than that of their becoming outstanding students.

Even now that I have already graduated from IFL, I still clearly remember the goose-bumps I had when I was called to the stage to receive Awards of Excellence for each academic year or deliver Thank-You speeches. I wish I could precisely describe those feelings of pride and recognition in writing because I really want to share with you those feelings so that you are inspired to reach the top of your competition too. When they called my name and announced my academic achievements, I felt really good-much better than any feelings I had had in my life. I don’t know but for every event, I felt really like I was flying when I saw other students sitting in the audience, clapping their hands for me, and listening to my speech.

Actually, when I write about this, I don’t mean to boast about my achievements and ego at all. But, I want to show you that those feelings came from inner motivation, not outer motivation. You know, whenever I stood on those stages, I realized that my hard work had paid off. I knew the crops that I had grown, and that I had harvested for the whole academic year blossomed and given fruits. I felt more than happy when I internally acknowledged that I had walked on the right path and direction.

Moreover, I felt even better than that when I could see my parents’ smile and laughter. This was the least I could do for them, as a son especially the one who had caused countless problems, wasted a lot of their time, and spent thousands of their dollar. Making me proud was just one small thing, but making them proud of me was really inspirational for me.

II. Mental benefits
Whether you know this or not, you feel confident in yourself only when you know can do something well or when people start to recognize your ability. You know this can be a chicken-and-egg issue. Becoming an outstanding student surely raises your self-esteem, belief and confidence in your own ability and value; however, your having self-esteem can also lead you to become an outstanding student. As not to confuse you, I’d like to focus only on the previous premise that becoming an outstanding can help you build up your self-esteem or self-confidence.

As a reflection, when I was a freshman at IFL I was not a confident person (like I am today). I just did not believe in my ability and knowledge maybe because I had abandoned education and socialized with people in dark side of the society for quite some time. Though it was so, I tried my best and was able to claim the position of the 3rd most outstanding student in the afternoon shift of my promotion, academic year 2005-2006. That achievement was indeed surprising for me, and clearly marked the beginning of my academic successes at IFL.

In late 2006, I became a two-year student. In my class (A2.1), there was almost the same number of students, and classmates. But, the difference then lied in how they were treating me. Their behavior toward me in the new academic year was differently from theirs in the previous year. Most of them treated me strangely in a way that they regarded me as someone who knew more than they did. Whenever they had questions or doubts, some of them approached me. Also, I was highly encouraged to take seemingly difficult or big tasks; sometimes, I singlehandedly did group assignment and presentation. You know, since then, my classmates had treated me like that (until the time I graduated from IFL).

Speaking of self-esteem, I was really nervous and sometimes did not want to move ahead to do those things encouraged or left behind by my classmates at all. But, because there was no one else to do, I just persisted on without complaining and completed them with trial and error. Surprisingly and unexpectedly, the more I did those work, the better I became. Day by day, I became even more knowledgeable and skillful in what I did, and my friends would just watch how I did them and encouraged me more, which made me become a true believer in my abilities and knowledge, and feel even more confident in my answers. If it had not been because of that academic success in my freshman year, I would not have been so confident in life and be writing this article now.

III. Intellectual benefits
They say people need some success to get more successes. With some successes (even small ones), you will be exposed to more learning opportunities and learn more than you have ever done in your life. Frankly, I did not know that at all until I became an outstanding student.

In high school, I had always asked myself and friends why my teachers paid more attention to students who were already good than those who did not do well. ‘Isn’t it more logical that teachers should teach the not-good?’ I asked. I had asked this question for years until I came to IFL and became a good student myself. Actually, the answers can be found in one of following three reasons. (1) You shall get if you give. So the students who concentrate on their teacher’s lessons will get attention from their teacher. (2) Teacher is also a human and wants to be recognized for their effort. Teachers who are able to produce outstanding students tend to be more respected and known than those who aren’t. (3) For one session, teacher has too little time to waste on those who do not show any enthusiasm to learn. To make best use of their time, teacher therefore chooses to invest on those curious learners, instead.

I brought in this point not to claim that I am an expert in education or something, but just for your awareness so that you can take advantage over it. It is so true that people who have talent or show signs of potentials are encouraged and supported to develop further than those you don’t have any. Therefore, if your goal is to excel exponentially in your life, you’ve got to have to be willing to become an outstanding. You have to start stepping first, and your step doesn’t have to be the best though it should be better than most people surrounding you. And once you are spotlighted as one of those who are willing to learn and have potentials to learn, you will be supported, motivated, encouraged, inspired, and pushed to learn even further than you have ever thought in your life. If you don’t believe this, please take me as an example. When I joint IFL, I was just a gangster. Yet when I graduated, I was an outstanding student.

IV. Academic benefits
Nowadays, it has become even clearer to students and to the world that education has no boundary. You know, there are more study programs than ever before in history. Also, thousands if not millions scholarships are offered every day to high-academic-ability students regardless of their gender, culture, race, religion, etc. (Still, different scholarships have different requirements).

Since I am a Cambodian, let me raise an example from Cambodia. On a yearly basis, dozens of IFL students and lecturers alone win sponsored exchange programs and scholarships to the US, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, etc maybe thanks to their high English language proficiency. Besides IFL students and lecturers, there are also hundreds students from other educational institutions and civil servants working for the government who are able to pass all requirements and get scholarships to further their undergraduate or graduate programs abroad. More than Cambodia students, students in other developing countries such as Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam, etc. are also allowed to pursue their higher education in developed countries of their choice either on scholarship or full fee payment programs.

The door to the world’s greatest and freest education has been opened and awaits students who possess high potentials and guts to prove to the world that they have something to offer. Therefore, if you have always longed for free education or higher education, I strongly recommend you set a goal to become an outstanding student in the field you are studying and go for it now. This goal, if realized, is your single ticket that you can use to get what you want, and financially speaking, it is the cheapest educational ticket that you have ever bought in your life. So, go for it.

V. Relational benefits
For students who always want attention from other people, I suggest you become an outstanding student or the most outstanding student in your school, if possible. If your goal in school is be well-known, I think you cannot choose a better strategy than becoming the best student in your class or school. Believe me, once you have become one of the top students or the top student in your school, other students are just drawn to you; you automatically become a magnet. If you walk in the school campus, people just look at you, talk (or gossip) about you, and want to be your friends.

Personally, I had a lot of friends when I was at IFL. I knew all people in my class, many people in my promotion, and other schoolmates who were studying in different promotions, shifts (time) of study, and classes. Actually, there were many factors leading me to know those people. First, I joint almost all extracurricular activities IFL had to offer. Second, I frequented IFL Self-Access Center (SAC) on a daily basis during weekdays. Last but certainly not least, I was one the most outstanding students. Other students knew me because I was called to receive Awards of Excellence every orientation day of every academic year between 2005 and 2009.

Becoming an outstanding student is like becoming a movie star. People just want to know about you and be your friends if there is an opportunity. So, when you are able to become one of the best students, you do not have problems in finding friends anymore; your only problem is in choosing people with whom you want to be friend. Because this fame is good, the friends that you have respect you and your ability a lot. With them, you are treated with reverence, and you are just a kind of friend with whom they don’t want to mess up.

Plus, you will learn many worthwhile life skills when you become one the top. Besides specialized knowledge, you also learn to control your ego because you can’t just be too cocky or get too loose that you stop learning. Also, you learn to handle publicity. You will become a topic. Other students and people will talk about you, and of course some of their stories are not good or true, thus being emotionally disastrous if you pay too much attention to them. Be ready and I can ensure that it is exciting and fun if you handle it well.

VI. Financial benefits
After everything is said and done, it comes to money, one of most tangible results that becoming an outstanding student can give you and one of the most wanted things that students (and all) people want. Frankly, I was born to an average family who has had many chronic financial crisis. (I eye-witnessed my parents selling our house, borrowing money from others, and strongly arguing with one another about money). When I was a bit younger, I had always wanted nice things that other kids at my age had, but my parents did not have enough money, so I would feel disappointed at myself. Because of such personal disappointment, I knew the importance of money and that money is an essential part of human life whether I like it or not.

Some people think that money is evil, but how about having little or no money? You know, in today’s highly competitive world, it is nothing more miserable or evil than people’s having no money to feed themselves. Personally, even though I know that money cannot buy everything, I prefer to have a lot of money because I also know that without money I cannot buy anything.

Therefore, if you are a student and want to have a decent living of your choice after graduation, you should work your butt off to become the best student that you can be. If you are the best in your class or school, you will earn two or three times as much as ordinary students in your level will. If an average student gets a salary of USD500$ per month, you will make up to USD1000$ or even more. As for me, I’m making twice as much as my friends, who graduated at the same year I did and who are working in the similar work I am doing, are.

VII. Other benefits
1. You’ve a one-for-all key to unlock the world: Whether you acknowledge it or not, the world really values people who are on the top of their game or work. These people are sought after and given more opportunities beyond their specialized skills or expertise. Take me as an example. When I was in my senior (last) year at IFL, I applied to work as a sales executive in an international company called Sumitomo Corporation. Generally, I was not suitable for the position at all, but I was selected. At the time, I met only one of their requirements: high English language proficiency. I neither had experience in sales nor had learnt international business transaction in university. But, still I was selected because they viewed me as a dynamic person because I was an outstanding pupil. Probably, my boss had thought that outstanding people had special ability to learn more quickly and take more responsibility if compared to other normal performers.

2. You’re able to cover all the messes you have made in your life. They say life is a matter of choice. The more correct choices you make, the better your life is. In contrast, the more incorrect/wrong mistakes you make, the worse your life is. Logically speaking, there should not be something called ‘good points replace bad points’ since mistake is a mistake; once you make it, it stays there.

Yet, the good-points-replace-bad-points thing does exist in today’s society. Since I was a child, my dad has always taught me that people don’t care how you do to get rich at all, but they just want to know whether you are rich or not. If you are rich, society doesn’t care whether you used be a gambler or prostitute. But, if you are a nice but poor guy, society will be harsh on you. Even though what my father has taught me ethically speaking should not be taught in school as it encourages students to be too outrageously ambitious, it has a great implication in practical life.

Take me as an example again. I used to screw my life up when I was a teenager. I got involved in many bad things such as gang fights, abusive alcohol drinks, etc. At that time, almost no good people wanted to socialize with me. Those people just ignored me completely. I was abandoned, at least by some of my friends and relatives, and had never hoped of retaining my life again. Yet, today now that I have achieved many thought-to-be impossible things, no one has ever talked about my past experience and life again. Those things are just covered up and buried into the deepest ground possible. With my outstanding-student reputation, all mistakes that I used to make have been automatically corrected, and all holes have been filled up nicely and firmly.

In conclusion, as a friend and someone who was an outstanding student, I really want you to improve and develop to become an outstanding student. I really do want you to climb the ladder to the top of your academics so that you can breathe in the rare breeze and see the world from the top. And then, you will understand that your life is worth trying to achieve the best and living in happiness.

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