LAST week was a big day for many young adults in our country — the SPM results were out. Perhaps many of you are now trying to figure out “what’s next?”.
I was extremely blessed growing up because I had always known what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to go for my university education. While many of my friends were checking out universities and colleges, I had a plan drawn up since I was 10.
My dad worked in the education sector for many years. He was with a national utility company that allowed him to connect with young students, offer them scholarships and mentor them throughout their university years. As a little girl, I would go with him to university fairs on weekends and explore all the booths, picking up university paraphernalia as if they were candy.
When it was finally my turn to apply for university, my dad didn’t really have to help me much because I was already set on going to Canada.
Canada is often overlooked as a place for further education. I get it — it’s quite far (there are hardly any direct flights from KL!), it’s cold and it’s a different world. But believe me when I say that you should highly consider it as there is almost no better place to learn and grow than somewhere completely different, and what could be more different from Malaysia than Canada?
After finishing high school and completing O Level examinations, I studied Grade 13 under the Canadian International Matriculation Program at Sunway College.
If you are looking to apply to a Canadian University, find out the credits you require. Canadian schools are more flexible in their admission requirements – most schools accept A Level results and American and Canadian high school credits. I believe most schools in the UK require A Levels to qualify for admission but Canadian schools accept most Foundation results. Some schools give transfer credits for Foundation.
For example, Grade 13 results allowed me admission into Carleton University. My sister, who did the A Level exams, also gained admission to Carleton. She received transfer credits for a few A-level classes. That essentially meant I had to do 20 credits to graduate with a degree, and my sister only had to do 18 credits because she received two transfer credits.
I chose to do my Grade 13 because I was set on going to Canada, and the programme only lasted a year. It would have taken longer if I had pursued A Level or the American Degree Transfer Program. Keep in mind that these are my personal views and recommendations, and I highly encourage you to speak to a university or education counsellor to help you set your plan on track!
Applications to universities abroad require proof of English proficiency. Most students sit the International English Language Testing System at centres located all around Malaysia. As I had attended an English medium school for five years and followed the Grade 13 syllabus, I didn’t have to sit IELTS. It’s important that you look through university requirements before you sit for any proficiency tests because some can be quite costly.
Most countries have a central university application centre which allows you to apply to several universities through one system. For Ontario, Canada, it’s called Ontario Universities’ Application Centre; in the UK, it’s Universities and Colleges Admission Services. I am sure each country has similar portals. Many people use these portals because of lower application fees (one for the price of three applications) and it’s a centralised hub so you don’t need to submit multiple applications to different schools.
I pursued the Bachelor of Journalism and Political Science programme at Carleton. I had ONLY applied to Carleton. My parents were a bit unsettled by this; they had always taught us to have a back-up plan, but I was confident. It was Carleton or nothing!
I remember being confused about the programme to apply for. Yes, I wanted to study journalism, but I could apply for different combinations. Most Canadian universities allow double degrees, for example Bachelor of Journalism and Arts. They also allow double majors such as Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology.
I was a student adviser at university and I can go on and on about the flexibility of Canadian universities and how the programmes and degrees work but I recommend that you sit down with someone who has the qualifications to walk you through the different programmes and education options.
Do not go blindly into a programme without knowing its career path.
After submitting my application to Carleton, I waited anxiously for a few weeks but I remember the day I got my acceptance letter. The package came in a bright yellow FedEx folder and the envelope inside was crimson red and pure white – Carleton colours! I can’t even begin to explain my excitement to you. I had worked hard for something for so long, and my prayers and dreams had finally come true!
I wish the best to all of you who are embarking on this next phase of your life. It is going to be exciting, thrilling, and a lot of hard work. You can do it!
Journalism graduate Iman Azman continues to navigate her way through the creative industry as a member of the dUCk Group’s marketing team. Here, she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like diving in headfirst into new experiences and opportunities. Follow her journey on https://www.instagram.com/iman_azman/