By Associate Professor Ts. Julian Lee Eng Kim,
Head of School,
School of Computing and Creative Media,
UOW Malaysia KDU University College, Glenmarie
Date: 7th February 2023
When William Shakespeare coined the opening phrase of a soliloquy by Prince Hamlet; one could guess that it had little or nothing to do with choosing his educational pathway. However, that is the question that plagues the 403,637 students who will be sitting for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) from January 30th till March 15th 2023; a question that even parents would struggle to answer at this present moment. What do I do after my formal schooling education?
Let’s begin with the psychology of a student transitioning from formal secondary school education to higher education, there is immense pressure to choose “correctly”; this experience is extremely overwhelming and contributes to heightened levels of anxiety and stress (Lowe & Cook, 2003). The situation eventually leads majority of students to follow peer pressure (friends) or leave the decision to parental judgement. Research also suggests that students receive inadequate information prior to entering university, resulting in them making inappropriate decisions regarding their choice of course (Harvey & Drew, 2006; Krause, Hartley, James, & McInnis, 2005; McInnis, James, & Hartley, 2000; Yorke, 2000). Thus, the information presented by the Universities is of utmost importance as the school counsellor who will provide these students with their guided path. Systems of planned transition between schools and universities, as well as mechanisms to ensure informed decisions on course and university choices, are therefore important and may increase retention, student satisfaction and achievement (Berger & Malaney, 2001; Dodgson & Bolam, 2002, Smith, 2002; Yorke & Thomas, 2003).
The students will find a barrage of information upon leaving the gates of the school. Buzz words used by universities to sell their Pre University courses such as Foundation, GCE A-Levels, Matriculation programmes whilst may please the advertising agencies but bears no advantage in further explanations. In recent pre-covid19 years, education fairs and university specific open days have become a ‘norm’, often drawing crowds of 25,000 and above. Today virtual open days conducted on video conferencing platforms have replaced the physical aspect of visiting these fairs. The key phrase uttered by all counsellors, academicians and educational specialists are the pre-university programmes which would be most likely a student’s destination. Pre-entry programmes may contribute to student satisfaction because they provide information, knowledge and skills to improve decision-making, assist in the development of realistic expectations and preparation, and foster early engagement to promote integration and social capital (Thomas, 2012). In summary, the pre-university programme is designed to bridge the gap between the transition of formal secondary school and university, with emphasis on fundamental educational knowledge, soft skills and the university experience in preparation for undergraduate degree study.
These academic jargons are too confusing. Without proper information and research, majority of school leavers are left in the lurch. So, what do all the pre-university programmes have in common and which is suitable for you? Table 1 illustrates the summary of focus and study of a pre-university programme.
The general guide for students is to engage in a reflective manner, where asking yourself questions before committing to a programme is essential. A simple 3 step question would suffice.
Pro-tip: Shop around, look at the scholarship selection applicable in your undergraduate studies (for preparation), visit the campus, look at the facilities, ask for the lecturers’ profiles to see industry linkages (you want to sure the people teaching you have industry experience and not 100% academic based) and lastly ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the experience.
Taking the first step is as important as finishing your final step in education; there is no wrong choice in choosing a pre-university programme; but choosing the ‘right’ pre-university programme ensures your learning experience is at full effect. This is your first daunting task as a young adult or a learning parent, to which in life there are many more obstacles and life choices. So, the answer to the question “To Pre- U or not? is largely dependent on you and perhaps more importantly, the financial aspect of your education. Charting your educational path is never easy but with self-perseverance and the desire to succeed will clear the way. Wishing you well on your educational journey and I am sure you will make the right choice (for yourself).
Associate Professor Ts. Julian Lee was developing creative ideas as an Art Director at KHK DMB&B where he embraced the use of computers for Graphic Design with the aim of merging conventional and digital production processes. Later, he was involved as a web designer for web travel portal GettingHere.com; now a template for travel booking sites. Julian has 19 years of teaching experience in Malaysia and New Zealand; He has exhibited at St. Paul’s Gallery (2005 and 2006) and Chaumont Graphisme (2009). He is a Professional Technologist of the Malaysian Board of Technologies and was involved as a consultant for ACE Pictures Entertainment LTD.
Lowe, Houston & Cook, Anthony. (2003). Mind the Gap: Are students prepared for higher education?. Journal of Further and Higher Education. 27. 53-76. 10.1080/03098770305629.
Harvey, L., & Drew, S. (2006). The First Year Experience: Briefing on Induction. [Online]. Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/ourwork/research/literature_revi ews/first_year_experience_ briefing_on_induction.pdf
Krause, K-L., Hartley, R., James, R., & McInnis, C. (2005). The first year experience in Australian universities: Findings from a decade of national studies. http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/37491/FYEReport05.pdf
McInnis, C., James, R., & Hartley, R. (2000). Trends in the First Year Experience in Australian Universities. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.
Yorke, M. (2000). Smoothing the transition into higher education: What can be learned from student non-completion. Journal of Institutional Research, 9, 35-47
Berger, J. B., & Malaney, G. D. (2003). Assessing the transition of transfer students from community colleges to a university. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 40(4), 533-555. doi: 10.2202/1949-6605.1277
Dodgson, R., & Bolam, H. (2002). Student retention, support and widening participation in the north east of England. Universities for the North East.
Smith, K. (2002). ‘School to university: Sunlit steps, or stumbling in the dark?’ Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 2(1), 90–98. doi: 10.1177/1474022203002002007
Yorke, M., & Thomas, L. (2003). Improving the retention of students from lower socioeconomic groups. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 25, 63-74. doi: 10.1080/13600800305737
Thomas, L. (2012). Building student engagement and belonging in higher education at a time of change: Final report from the What Works? Student Retention and Success programme. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/What_works_final_report_0.pdf
Charlotte R. Pennington, Elizabeth A. Bates, Linda K. Kaye & Lauren T. Bolam (2018) Transitioning in higher education: an exploration of psychological and contextual factors affecting student satisfaction, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42:5, 596-607, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2017.1302563
Education and Career
Monday – Friday
9.00am – 5.30pm
Weekend & Public Holiday
10.00am – 5.00pm
Open Day Weekend
10.00am – 6.00pm