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By LOUIS YAP JUN HAO
The easiest way to start this essay would be by introducing myself. So that I shall do! My name is Louis Yap, and I turned 19 last February. I was born and bred in Petaling Jaya, took the Foundation in Arts course at HELP University College, and am currently pursuing Psychology at the same institution.
Although I studied in Sekolah Sri Cempaka from preschool to Form Five, I can assure you that my family is not as well off as you might imagine. Growing up among peers who seemed to be fed with golden cornflakes (pun intended), it seemed as if being rich was what got you everything, and that education was the key to getting rich. My paradigm has since changed; education is important, no matter what you do.
My dad had chosen an IT course at the Asian Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) for me. Having already respected his wishes when it came to choosing my stream in Form Four, it was time I made my own decision. Instead of starting college in January like most of my peers, I chose to take three months off to weigh my options. I also thought it served as a well-deserved break after 12 continuous years of schooling, although I did enjoy every moment of it.
I took up a part-time job, and it was a very worthwhile experience; it taught me responsibility, accountability, and most importantly, people skills. I met all kinds of people – from typical, nonchalant locals to the most eccentric foreigner – and adapted to each one differently. In retrospect, those interpersonal skills served me well when I finally began college, for I met a myriad of personalities.
I thought about my interests; they ranged from event management and mass communications to Psychology, which had recently caught my attention. I also remember attending the FACON education fair in Putra World Trade Centre, where I collected brochures from various universities regarding their pre-university programmes.
The one that finally caught my attention was the Foundation in Arts course at HELP University College. After speaking to their counsellor, I became quite certain that it was what I wanted to pursue. I thought it over, looked through the massive pile of pamphlets I brought home, and decided that it was the most suitable course for me.
A-levels were completely out of the picture, simply because I was sick of an education system where your grades were decided solely upon exam performance; I feel there is more to education than just what you regurgitate on a piece of paper. The foundation course seemed just right, as marks were allocated for assignments and presentations, which meant that non-academic skills were taken seriously as well.
The pros included the acquisition of crucial work ethics, team coordination skills, and the ability to speak in public with confidence. The cons were that you had to take all your work seriously, and procrastination was Public Enemy number one. After all, even if you do really well during your examinations, a strong final grade cannot be achieved without a similar performance in one’s assignments.
The main reason I settled on Foundation in Arts at HELP was the variety of subjects offered. From the usual business subjects like Economics and Accounts and Marketing, to subjects such as Public Relations and C Programming, it was comforting to know that I could try out these subjects as electives, as I did not know what I wanted to do just yet.
What I liked best about my programme was how easy it was to meet people. It really surprised me how everyone was so easy going, and easy to get along with. The Foundation programme also organised interesting activities – as a student in this course, it is compulsory to attend a fun Leadership Camp!
I would tell those considering this course to think it through carefully. If you are more familiar with the secondary school system, this will take some getting used to. Another thing to consider is its international reputation – as a local course, it is not as internationally recognised as A-levels or the International Baccalaureate programme. So if you plan on furthering your studies overseas after your pre-university, those two would be more appropriate. Another pre-university option would be Monash University Foundation Year, which equates to automatic entry should you decide to enter Monash University.
Another thing I would tell SPM-leavers or soon-to-be SPM-takers, is to keep in touch with your friends, and more importantly, value the time you have left with them, as you will be parting ways very soon, and time and distance takes their toll on any relationship. With that, I bid you adieu, and hope my writing has benefited you in some way or another.
Louis Yap Jun Hao is currently pursuing Psychology at HELP University College. He rock climbs occasionally, and plays Ultimate Frisbee when he is not busy catching up on the latest music, movies, and events.
Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.
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