Have you ever tried finding out what college would be like, only to realise the many differing opinions about the matter?
“When you’re a college student, you won’t have time for a social life.”
“No, college is all about having fun and experiencing new things!”
If you’re wondering what they say about college is true, we’re setting the record straight with these 12 most common college misconceptions you may have heard before.
#1. Your choice of degree determines your career
Truth be told, you don’t need to have your whole life planned out as soon as you finish secondary school.
Even after that, you can still change career paths once you graduate as most skills you gain in university are transferable (e.g. communication skills, analytical thinking, problem-solving). In fact, some famous Malaysians who have ventured away from their degrees include Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (graduated with an Accounting Degree), Yuna and Lisa Surihani (graduated with Law Degrees), and Robert Kuok (graduated with an Arts Degree).
#2. You need the full college experience
Breaking news — there is no one college experience that fits all.
Every student is different so there will always be differing expectations of what the ideal college life should be like for each individual.
As such, being a college student doesn’t mean you need to conform to peer pressure and join your classmates in activities you’re not comfortable in such as partying and binge-drinking. If you’d rather focus on studies and enjoy other laid-back activities, that’s perfectly fine too.
#3. Private universities are better than public universities (or vice versa)
Both private and public universities have their strengths and weaknesses, not to mention the quality of each university could differ. Moreover, not all universities offer the same programmes and the fees could range drastically from one university to the next.
So, choose one that suits your needs — regardless if it’s a public or private institution.
As long as you’re earning a degree from a legitimate institution (i.e. accredited by MQA) and the institution is able to propel you closer to your ambitions, that’s all that matters.
#4. PTPTN loans favour bumiputera applicants
This is completely false. The PTPTN loan is one of the best education loans in Malaysia, with easy-to-meet requirements. It is not racially biased. In fact, all Malaysians below 45 years old are eligible to apply, as long as you enrol in a course that’s accredited by the MQA.
#5. Top-ranking universities offer better education
Well, yes and no…
While there is merit in attending universities that top the QS World University Rankings or the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, bear in mind that many rankings focus heavily on academic research productivity — great if you’re looking into research-intensive courses or pursuing a postgraduate programme, not so relevant if you’re taking a humanities or creative course.
So if you don’t see your desired universities topping the charts, it doesn’t mean that they are less worthy.
#6. A non-Science degree won’t get you anywhere
If you’re worried that a non-science career may not be lucrative or in-demand, think again!
Although there is no denying that science-related careers such as medicine, pharmacy and dentistry pay well, there are non-science jobs that rake in good salaries too. For example, based on the 2018/2019 Salary Guide from Kelly Services, a corporate communications director may earn as much as an engineering manager with the same years of experience.
In addition, a number of in-demand jobs in Malaysia’s Critical Occupation List are from the non-science field, such as business, accounting and graphic design.
#7. Bad SPM results will destroy your chances of getting into college
Don’t sweat, there’s still hope if you didn’t score well in SPM.
For starters, did you know that you can enrol into a certificate course with just 1 credit in SPM? Thereafter, you can continue on with your education with a diploma and ultimately a degree if you desire.
And even if you do not have any credits for SPM, you can still take up a Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM) course (also known as Malaysian Skills Certificate).
#8. Only the rich can afford to go to university
You don’t always have to rely on your own finances to get into the college of your dreams.
If you have excellent grades and have been actively participating in co-curricular activities, some universities may offer you scholarships for your achievements. In addition, there are also many bursaries, financial aids and education loans.
With so many available options, the possibilities of funding your college education are endless — you can make college affordable.
#9. You can maintain your secondary school study habits
Your secondary school studying methods may have worked for you once upon a time but tertiary education is a whole new ball game.
Secondary school methods may have had you absorbing and regurgitating information from readily available textbooks, but university exams and coursework require you to use much more brain juice (yes, thinking!). You’ll need to analyse various journals, articles and other resources just for a single assignment, so be prepared to put in the hard work.
#10. Going to the best university will guarantee you the best jobs
Although some employers prefer to bag the crème de la crème from the most prestigious schools, it isn’t the only thing employers look at. They will also evaluate your skills, grades, personality, work experience and how confident you are.
Even the most famous people in the world graduated from colleges you may not have heard of — Jimmy Choo went to Cordwainers Technical College and Samuel L. Jackson went to Morehouse College.
#11. College students are always broke and hungry
Unless you blow off your monthly budget every first week of the month, it is possible for you to save money and keep your tummy full throughout your uni life!
It’s true that you tend to eat more when revising and working on your assignments, but with the right saving habits, you can make the most of your meagre allowance while in college. For example, do you really need the latest iPhone or that blended Frappuccino from Starbucks?
#12. You’ll have no time to make friends
While you don’t have to have friends, surrounding yourself with a good group of people who you enjoy being around will help you through the toughest situations and it will make your college experience so much more enjoyable.
Regardless of the rumours you hear about the good and bad of college, at the end of the day, the memories made are your own. So welcome to college, the “best years of your life”!