By SHANUJA CHANDRAN
Coming from a family of four, I can say that I have a really supportive family. Both my parents work with the government, and we make up the average nuclear family. I attended an all-girls national school throughout my primary and secondary education.
So what comes after SPM anyway? Seeing as to how I have just spent the past 11 years of my life studying, I felt that I needed a long break. My post-SPM holiday lasted only three weeks, much to my chagrin.
I was in the science stream during my upper secondary school years. Fortunately, those two years of studying chemistry and physics made me realise that I am not fond of the sciences. I knew then that I was more of a social sciences person. Deciding what to do after Form Five was an effortless s footsteps. I decided that I did not want to pursue pure sciences, be in a 100 per cent examination course, or do Form Six.
Using my SPM forecast results, I enrolled in the South Australian Matriculation (SAM) programme at INTI University College. The course comprises of 50 per cent coursework (assignments, tests and quizzes) and 50 per cent examination results.
During that one year, I took five subjects – Mathematics, English, Psychology, Legal Studies, and Economics. Initially, being in this programme was an academic culture shock to me because the assignments required a lot of online research and student-based surveys. Also, there were always tests or quizzes happening one after the other.
I was always on my feet, constantly revising because I never knew when the lecturers would decide to throw a quiz my way. My lecturer once said that if you keep walking on a grassy lane, the lane would eventually turn into a walking path; that is pretty much the concept behind the SAM programme. Before I knew it, SAM was over and results were released.
Next in line was deciding on a bachelor’s degree; this was a very crucial decision for me as I was about to dedicate the next three years of my life, and possibly more, to it. Taking into consideration my SAM results and the course I was keen on, I chose to take Psychology. Coming from a Ceylonese background, Psychology does not fall into the typical degree category, which comprises of Medicine, Law, and Engineering. People tend to have the idea that a Psychology graduate can only be a clinical psychologist. Truth is, we can do anything related to dealing with people, including public relations, human resource, and a whole host of other job prospects.
As for me, being a shrink is the last thing I have in mind because I have greater tolerance and compromise for children than I do with adults. I chose this particular programme because for some unknown reason, the human mind attracts me. I wanted to know how attitude influences behaviour and vice versa. You know how if you have a failed kidney or heart, you can always replace it?
On the other hand, if you are brain-dead, you are practically dead. Why do they not have brain transplants? To me, your affect (the noun, not the verb), behaviour, and cognition derive from the mind, and these things make up your personality.
I eventually enrolled in HELP University College for the Bachelor of Psychology (Hons.) programme. With HELP’s reputable faculty of behavioural sciences, I have been exposed to a completely different world of academia.
During one semester, I studied Anthropology as an elective, and that grueling subject introduced me to various cultures and beliefs I never knew existed. HELP’s psychology programme touches on every aspect of Psychology, from Social Psychology to Abnormal Psychology, and even Behavioural of Eating!
The lecturers, mostly with doctorates in hand, redefined an educator’s role in a good way. The programme is 50 per cent coursework-based and 50 per cent examination-based. As always, the coursework keeps your feet on the ground at all times. Having a passion for reading is also a necessity for Psychology students.
Two years down the road, I can honestly say that I do not regret choosing this path. Every time I read my textbook, it feels like I am reading about those around me and myself. Psychology is applicable to everyday life, and you become a more understanding individual because of it. My plan for the future is to get hands-on experience first.
With a basic degree in Psychology, I can work or volunteer in orphanages or kindergartens. In order to have a steady job working with children, I need a Master’s qualification in Child Psychology. But for now, I can genuinely say that I like what I do.
Shanuja Chandran has chosen the social sciences after painfully learning that pure sciences were not her forte. Currently pursuing her Bachelor of Psychology in HELP University College, the avid reader of murder mysteries will always be a proud member of the Girl Scouts and BRATs. She believes that children are like white canvases waiting to be painted by their legal guardians.
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.
Click here for more articles.