Friday, 8 July 2016

Why I Would Pay the Alumni Association Fee

Given that Phase 2A1 is just over and Phase 2A2 is looming in our face, and I had gone through the experience of being a parent-volunteer at Phase 2A1, experiencing first-hand as an observer the slightly uneasy, and sometimes tensed, atmosphere of parents remaining very quiet at the Primary One Registration Exercise.

I thought about how it was like two years ago when I went through Phase 2A2 registering Baby for the school and thought it would have been a less stressful experience if I had paid the dues to join the alumni association.

For us, it was more of a case of 'If you think education is expensive, try ignorance'.

William never knew anything about the phases or even the existence of an alumni association while I had always assumed that the membership fee was an annual subscription. I figured it would add up to a handsome sum after ten years, so I decided not to join it. Furthermore, there had never been a history of balloting for Phase 2A2.

Came August 2013, it was announced with immediate effect that 40 seats would be reserved for Phases 2B and 2C, which meant 2A2 would have limited vacancies now!

It was at the same period that I realised the membership fee for the alumni association is a one-time payment. I quickly emailed the alumni association and asked if it was possible for us to join then. Of course, we were turned down as we had missed the deadline (30 June every year) for the registration year.

In the weeks leading up to the registration, William and I started to worry when we saw the figure for Phase 1 take up close to 50% of the seats. We started to blame each other when the number for Phase 2A1 also increased by 20 seats compared to the previous year. Every day at work, I was unsettled and worried. Every night, before we slept, William and I asked each other what we should do if Baby could not get in his alma mater. We thought about alternative schools around our area and could not come to a settling conclusion. We didn't have Plan B at all!

I went to register Baby for P1 worried. One of the staff I checked with about the chances of us getting in didn't offer any comfort. In fact, he said,"It's not guaranteed."  matter-of-factly, which added to my stress. 

What made it worse was, almost immediately after brushing off my concern coldly, he laughed and chatted with another father who was living within 1km of the school and assured him that it was not possible to have another ten or twenty parents living within 1km of the school vying for places with him. 

Our hearts were in our mouth, with me constant checking the time. When the clock showed 4.30pm, I called and asked for the number of applicants at Phase 2A2. 

We were mad with excitement and ecstasy when the staff of the school told us everybody at 2A2 would get in without any balloting. It was a close shave. It would take just another 5 or 6 applicants for balloting to be conducted!

Learn from my lesson: If the school is a popular one, pay the fees.

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