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STPM or A-levels? Foundation or Diploma? If you have trouble deciding which pre-university programme is for you ask yourself these important questions.

5) What Do You Want To Study?

Of course, the first thing you need to establish is what course you intend to study. For example, if you intend to obtain a degree in Engineering, a Foundation in Engineering Programme may be for you as it is more specialized and focused and lets you transition into the same university smoothly.

However, if you don’t know what to study, there are pre-university programmes that give you the chance to explore and be exposed to subjects. Pre-university programmes such as STPM, A-levels, Canadian Pre-U, and International Baccalaureate, are broader and more comprehensive. Thus, they offer you more time to decide on your course of study for an undergraduate degree.

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4) What Is Your Budget?

Certain pre-university programmes especially those that involve or are administered by overseas bodies such as A-levels, International Baccalaureate, Canadian Pre-U and AUSMAT, cost significantly more than others.

If you prefer something more affordable, Malaysian government pre-university programmes such as STPM and Matrikulasi costs next to nothing. In the case of the competitive Matrikulasi, you will even obtain a stipend per semester! Foundation programmes and diploma’s cost also differs from university to university but they are also usually more affordable.

Your choice of pre-university programme also affects financial assistance you receive. Of course scholarship opportunities differ from school to school and depend on your own personal achievements. However, PTPN loans are only available for diploma, degree and certain Foundation programmes.

3)Where Do You Want To Study?

Do you intend to pursue your degree in Malaysia or overseas? If it’s in Malaysia especially a Malaysian public university, government pre-university programmes, STPM and Matrikulasi, is suited for you. In a private university, Foundation and Diploma programmes are also more tailored for further study in Malaysia.

However, if you want to study overseas, certain pre-university programmes are tailored to each foreign country. A-levels is designed for study in UK universities, AUSMAT is designed for Australian universities, Canadian Pre-U is designed for Canadian universities, and American Degree Programme (ADP) is designed for US universities.

Though, it is better to match these specific programmes with these countries for a smoother transition, most overseas universities do recognize other foreign pre-university programmes including STPM. International Baccalaureate (IB) is also a unique programme, originating in Switzerland, that is designed to cultivate an international mind and applicable to most foreign universities.

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2) How Do You Want To Be Evaluated?

This may seem like a minor thing but the way pre-university programmes grade you or assess your performance can affect the way you study. For example, A-levels is a final exams programme where you technically only have ‘one chance to shine’ at each level. Some people find this much more stress inducing.

Meanwhile, a number of programmes such as Foundation assess you consistently throughout the semester with a mixture of assignments, presentations, group-protects, quizzes and exams.

1) Is Time of The Essence?

How quickly do you want to graduate? Some people want a quick and easy route to graduation and employment while others prefer a slower pace. Foundation programmes, Matrikulasi and AUSMAT typically only take a single year to complete. On the other hand, A-levels, STPM, Canadian Pre-U and International Baccalaurete (IB) take one and a half to two years to complete.

If you want to graduate quickly and enter the workforce immediately, a diploma programme may be for you. With just three years of study you will learn practical skills you need to be employed in your chosen field at the cost of lower qualifications and lower salaries than degree graduates.

Feng Gooi

Feng Gooi is an intensely private individual. He is offended that you are even reading his profile.

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