I thought I'd take a little time to get on my soapbox about two things I've been involved in for the past two years: greater awareness of higher education options, and US college application help for Malaysian applicants. They are certainly very youth-related, pertain to a least a few of us writers, and very much my thoughts for the past year or so, which justifies this post for me.
Higher Education Awareness
We're familiar with the usual bluster about scholarships each year in the media when the results for the Big One, that Supreme Scholarship, is released: JPA. For many, rejection from this seems like the end of the road (and you can see this at Recom.org right now), but it shouldn't have to be, and it isn't.
There are so many post-SPM options that students should be aware about, though for some reason the majority remain fixated on one or two mainstream scholarships and paths and neglect to look for others until it is too late. Or feel that the path they've chosen is inadequate compared to others, when really, if they knew what they were capable of, could do much better than privileged students with mainstream scholarships.
So there's that. For this very reason, there is a book coming out shortly which I was involved in producing - a book of stories of people and what they did post-SPM. Unsurprisingly, it's called 'Project What's After SPM'.
In it, you have the usual tertiary education options, with a few surprises, and then you have people who chose to take very different paths, and are none the worse for it. There are stories about busking, about bodybuilders, about people with honors from world-class universities who turned round into a career in political research, about people who decided to cycle around the world for charity. There are people who are frank about their failures, and those who are frank about what their successes mean to them.
My hope, at least, for this book, once it gets finalized at the publishers' and distributed to schools via donations (none of the team is getting paid for this), is that it will open the eyes of some students to their ability to chart their lives in ways beyond getting a scholarship and going to university.
US College Applications
Also, because there isn't much exposure to and resources about American colleges and the application process (which spans months and is one of the most tedious but most rewarding processes I know) in Malaysia, current students and alumni of US colleges have been organizing college fairs and workshops for the past years on a volunteer basis. Many of us believe in the power of a liberal arts education, and many of us believe that Malaysian students have the capacity to get accepted by top colleges if only they had adequate preparation.
This year, those of us who are back home in Malaysia are organizing five such sessions, four of which are free and open to all, one of which is an intensive two-day workshop with a low fee.
I wish myself that someone had told me about all these things while I was in secondary school, and I can attest to the merit of the workshop facilitators, having been one myself last year - these are people who've spent years and months helping others with the process, who are incredibly accomplished and down-to-earth, and who genuinely want to see more Malaysians in their colleges.
I might remark again that all of us in both projects are involved on a pro bono basis, which means we charge and expect no fee at all. Professional education counselors and college counselors charge by the hour.
Also, if you think you might be interested in a US college education, please contact me, and I would be more than happy to tell you more, link you to people in colleges you might be interested in, and help with the apps. The easiest way to do that would be first introducing yourself via Facebook; there's always the possibility of spam with e-mail addresses out in the open.
Now, I don't expect you to support the projects I'm involved in; all I ask is that if you are still in secondary school, that you begin considering all manner of post-SPM options early so that you can gather as much information as needed and make decisions that you're less likely to regret later.
If you're already past secondary school, I hope that you'll render such information to your juniors and friends. It might just make a huge difference in their lives.
Thanks for the great experience! I'm honored to be a part of this project and certainly learnt a lot from it.
- Day 10: The Hornet's Next
- Day 9: They Jump, You Jump, We All Jump
- Day 8: The Post of Lists
- Day 7: Walls of Text, Walls of Pictures [Books]
- Day 7: Avian Genius, Swashbuckling Storytelling [Music]
- Day 6: Maintaining Connections
- Day 5: The Interwebs!
- Day 4: Off to Work We Go.
- Day 3: Here, You Can Have The Cake. I'll Take The Icing.
- Day 2: The F Word
- Day 1: Of Youth and Life
Charis Loke is a rising sophomore at Brown, concentrating in Biochemistry. Her interests include art and illustration, Tolkien, and procrastination.