Help! I don't know which pre-U programme to pick
If you've shortlisted a few pre-U options but still don't know which one to pick, then it's time for the checklist crunch. Chances are, you'll be more certain of your destination after this. Let's get started...
Internal or External
Does it matter if you take an internal or external programme? Some pre-university programmes are more widely accepted across different regions around the world. As such, if you have yet to decide where (which country) to study, you may want to choose a programme that gives you more versatility later. Conversely, if you have decided on where you want to pursue your tertiary education, then you can choose a pre-university programme that matches the country or region of your choice. For example, the A-levels and IB programme are widely accepted internationally. In contrast, certain matriculation or pre-university courses are recognised mainly in a particular region, e.g. Australia and New Zealand; or the US and Canada. In addition, some internal programmes are recognised only by the partner-universities of the PHEI in Malaysia. Don't forget – if you plan to apply for scholarships, many would require an internationally recognised external qualification.
The Timing of the Intake
While some pre-university programmes have several intakes in a year, others have only one or two, at most. This means that in order to enrol in a programme with only one intake that takes place before SPM results are announced (e.g. January or February 2015), a student will have to wait an entire year (January or February 2016) to begin that programme.
The Duration of the Programme
Students who begin their semester later (i.e. March) will have a shorter course duration which could translate into longer hours per day (or week) in their schedule. As an example, students who begin their studies in January have 10-11 months to study for the examination in November. Students who begin in March have 8-9 months in comparison. Are you up for a shorter, more intense course? It would be a good idea to find out what a typical schedule looks like from the college you're interested in.
Choice of Subjects
This may largely depend on the type of course you plan to pursue at bachelor's degree level so do find out if there are any pre-requisites before deciding on your choice of subjects. Also, each college offers a slightly different choice of subjects, and the subject combination may also be less flexible at certain institutions.
Are you the type who prefers to sit for one exam at the end of the programme; have a combination of course work and examinations; or is continual assessment throughout the programme more suited for you? Don't think for a minute that continual assessment is the easy option. It requires a consistency that many students may not be prepared to give.
The fee of pre-university programmes can vary significantly – some courses are more affordable than others, however, choosing a programme where you spend less does not have to mean compromising on the quality of the university or your study experience. Talk it over with your parents and check out Chapter 7 to find out what scholarships and study loans you may qualify for.
Is the college near enough home that you can commute daily? Or are you coming from out of state and would require accommodation? Be sure to check out accommodation options if you need it, and of course, make sure it is all accounted for in your budget for living expenses.
You went to secondary school together, you hang out at the mall together, you should go to college together, right? WRONG! Don't misunderstand. We're not telling you to ditch your BFFs and bosom buddies but they should not be the reason why you choose a college. Believe it or not, you might just make the best new friends ever in a completely new place.
Want to find out more about what subjects are offered, assessment methods, and the pros and cons of different Pre-U programmes?
- Pre-U Match: Internal vs External Qualifications
- What are Foundation Programmes?
- SPM VS. IGCSE Grading System
- STPM vs. A-Levels Grading System
- Is STPM for You? Here Are 12 Things You Should Know Before You Decide
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