Choosing a place to study

Too many choices can spoil you…….so the saying goes. But we can’t avoid from making choices because life is all about living our choices. With the SPM results out, the celebrations have soon become a frenzy dash to education fair and carnival. The parents are more likely to have headache rather than their still-in-cloud-nine teenager. Looking for the best scholarships with the best programs that match the tattered result paper. 

Well for the record my daughter got 6A+ , 1 A, 1A-, 1B and a C…..I am so proud of her. So much so I will accept whatever decision she made to further her study. Apparently, she has decided.”Ifah wants to study Computer Science at UiTM”, she said a few days ago as we sat for dinner. “Hhmmmm…..that sounds like my area and I do work in UiTM”, I silently calculated the logic. “Is that so? It’s settled then….” ,putting the end of the story. So our life goes on as usual like nothing big has ever happened despite the biggest ultimatum in life has just been decided. May Allah help us all.

Selangkah Ke UiTM

There are three basic things should be considered when hunting for a place to study: curriculum(the program itself), people(the lecturers and graduates), and the facilities.

UiTM has improved a lot and could be one of your top choices

The curriculum : this can be found in the brochure, handed out at the carnival or the place where the promotions are taking place. Universities and sponsors are going all out to attract students, so take this opportunity and spend sometime with them. The brochure should have all relevant information about the program. Go down the list of the subjects they offer in each and every single semester. If the subjects are not familiar due to some fancy names (they like to use some strange names that considered futuristic !) they put there, ask them to clarify and judge whether that is up to date or not. The important thing is to match the subjects with the name of the degree/diploma. A Diploma in IT could be as technical as computer science or applied as merely the use of word processor and spreadsheet. A computing-related diploma is worthy only if there are at least two subjects of programming (one intro and another intermediate/advanced level). So check the curriculum if the subjects are there. Another tip is to ask if the program is accredited or not by MQA(Malaysian Qualification Agency) or any professional bodies such as IEM etc. It is not too much to ask whether the license is still valid or not. If for IPTA then try to look if the program is ‘attached’ to industrial bodies such as CISCO,HP, Oracle, Microsoft and the like. Any link will show that the curriculum is up to date, relevant to current technologies and constantly monitored. If the results are good encourage your child to take up more challenging program and not just “apa2 lah asalkan dia belajar”. But again you know your kid better than anyone else.

The people : the first group of people are the lecturers. Find out what kind of lecturers they have in the department. Browse through the website of the university you are planning to apply and go to the “Staff area”. You want to look for their qualifications and academic activities. For diploma programs, the min qualification is to have a bachelor degree. See how many of them are from the field; if you are going for a computing program, check how many of the lecturers have computing degrees. What kind of computing degree? Where do they get them? Local universities/Foreign universities? The second group of people are the graduates. Look around and check how its graduates are doing. Can they speak well? High achievers? Or merely coffee-makers? They are the products of the university so that would be your child in a few-years’ time.

The facility : Take some time to go and check out the facility. Do not take it for granted especially IPTA, usually diploma programs will be the least in priority. So you could see they dump 30-40 students in one classroom and send a soft-speaking lady to teach in a noisy surrounding, not a good place definitely. IPTA can usually get away with this thing. Although IPTS can also get away, they are constantly monitored by MQA or University panel. Computer labs must be well-equipped for programming courses and technical subjects; so check if such facilities are available.
some lab facilities to aid learning 

even for diploma  good facilities show firm commitment 

Same thing goes for overseas universities, try to check as much as possible through the internet or the current students from that particular university. If you have time and money, pay them a visit. Please do not rely on the sponsors because they have their own panel ( and usually made some weird observations) but most importantly to remember is that they have their own constraints to consider…and that usually involves money. Basically the programs selected by the sponsor are not necessarily good (double check to make sure they are what they are supposed to be).

Some people might want to know the difference between matriculation program and diploma. Matriculation program is a bridging program for a particular university or program of study. There is no cert being given after you finish; only a place at a university. And if you fail matriculation it is just awful because you have wasted 1-2 years of your life. This is what we call a non-terminal program. A diploma on the other hand is a terminal program and you will get a diploma at the end of it. Majority of students will proceed to a bachelor degree after their diploma and they seem to be more prepared compared to matric students. The reason being they are exposed to the area of study while they were doing diploma taking introductory subjects and getting used to the culture of tertiary study. So in short :

  • Matriculation program : good for those who are not qualified to get directly into the feeder program for areas of study such as medical or engineering. So get into matriculation, score four flat and reapply.  
  • Diploma programs : good for those who are determined to get into a particular university and will proceed a bachelor degree at that university in the future.

InsyaALlah those are some tips for the children and parents that are busy contemplating for a place to study. Pray to Allah for He knows best. Good Luck.

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