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Embracing choices post-SPM

There is no such thing as superior or inferior institutions to go or courses to take (Photo by UM Corporate Communications Centre)

By: Nahrizul Adib Kadri

As a parent, I wholeheartedly resonate with the sentiments expressed in the April 15 NST article entitled “Parents, students should talk about further education”.

Nahrizul Adib Kadri

Indeed, the decision to pursue tertiary education after the SPM is not one to be taken lightly, especially considering the significant financial investment involved. With the added complexities of increasing cost of living, it’s understandable that parents may feel overwhelmed by the choices ahead.

However, amidst these challenges, it’s crucial to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to further education. Each student’s journey is unique, shaped by their individual ambitions, capabilities, and circumstances. While some may go for prestigious top-tier institutions, others may find equal success and fulfilment in second-tier colleges or universities.

What’s important is to recognise that there is no inherent superiority or inferiority in these choices—they are simply that, choices. Whether a student attends a top-tier institution or a second-tier one, or doing STPM vs diploma vs matriculation vs A-levels; what ultimately matters is their dedication, hard work, and commitment to their academic and personal growth. The same goes with the selection of courses too. Please remember that there is no such thing as “better” degrees or courses, no matter how many times it was implied to in P. Ramlee movies.

In my own experience, I’ve come to realise that success in education (and later, life) is not solely determined by the institution’s reputation or prestige, but rather by the effort and determination that the said students put forward. Regardless of where and what they study, students have the opportunity to excel if they are willing to put in the work and seize the opportunities (particularly those outside the lecture halls) available to them.

Therefore, instead of succumbing to the pressure of choosing the “right” institution and courses, let us embrace the diversity of options available and encourage students to follow their passions and interests. Whether they pursue a degree from a top-tier university or a more affordable second-tier institution, what matters most is their commitment to completing their education as far as they can go, and their willingness to seize the opportunities that come their way.

In conclusion, the path to further education is never a linear one with clear-cut answers. Of course it will be overwhelming; of course it will be full of uncertainties. But as parents, be committed to be part of our children’s journey by embracing this quote by Rumi:

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”

The author is from Kuala Lumpur and is a parent to three boys, of which the middle one had just completed his SPM. He (the father, not the son) may be reached at

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