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Monday, December 26, 2005

SPM, Pre-u Holders - American Degree Program(ADP)

“I’m now studying in ADP.”
“Har??? What’s that???”
“American Degree Program. It’s something like a twinning program.”
“Oh. Er. Okay.”

The above scenario is what I usually get when I tell my friends where I’m studying. Okay, not all of my friends are as blur as the fictitious person in the above scenario, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just accept the scenario and move on with something more important— An Autopsy of ADP.

The American Degree Program (ADP) is NOT a one-year pre-university course even though you can use your SPM cert to enroll in the program. Once you enter the program, you are already pursuing your degree, as the name of the program implies. An American degree takes approximately 4 years of full study to complete. I say approximately because the duration of which you will take to finish your undergraduate studies depends on how many subjects you plan to take in one academic year. If you take more subjects than the norm throughout the academic year, you would probably complete your degree faster, and vice versa. Also, if you have done a pre-u course like STPM or SAM, you might be able to get some credits transferred to ADP, which saves you time and money.

Since you will be joining a degree program, this also means that your study environment will be somewhat university-like. Although you won’t get the huge lecture halls of universities (at least for Taylor’s ADP), you will have a degree of liberty in choosing your own subjects, as long as they contribute towards your intended major. Yes, you heard it right. The moment you enter ADP, you are encouraged to declare your own major so as to determine which subjects to take. Available majors include business, engineering, applied science, mass communications and social sciences. However, if you are unsure of what major to pursue, you don’t have to worry too much. This is because one of the characteristics of the American education system is throughout the first two years of the average American university student, students from different majors share more or less a similar course structure. For example, if you are one year into your business major, you can switch to another major and don’t have to worry about retaking subjects.

Speaking of subjects, this brings me to one of the key characteristics of the American education system. It is compulsory for students to take subjects not only relating to their major, but also relating to other fields as well. Take for example, if you are an engineering student, you will also have to take subjects in the fields of business, social sciences, humanities, and fine arts. This is to ensure the development of a well-rounded person, in other words, a jack of all trades. Some of you will notice how this is in contrast with the traditional British education system, whereby a lot of focus is put on the student’s major, and some of you might argue that a jack of all trades is a master of none. However, I shall not go into pointing out which is the superior system. I will merely point out the differences, so that you, the readers out there, can be your own judge.

Let us move into something more specific: the classroom environment. When courses are being conducted in class, students are expected to proactively participate in class by offering constructive opinions, offering solutions to questions, or even pointing out accidental errors in a lecturer’s teachings. Perhaps this might prove to be a stark difference from secondary school, and some people might shy away from such a change, but believe me, grooming your communication skills and confidence level will be paramount of succeeding in being employed.

Now that you have a basic idea of what the American Degree Program is like, let me now talk about partner universities. Remember the above conversation where I mentioned ADP being somewhat of a twinning program? Well, the correct term here is credit transfer program. As the name suggests, you transfer your credits (a.k.a subjects) to a partner university. However, the partner universities are so numerous that I will not be able to list them down in detail. Also take note that every different partner university will have slightly different requirements and credit transfer policies, therefore rules that may apply for University A might not necessarily apply for University B. Take for example, MATH161 (Introduction to Calculus) is transferable to University A, but not transferable to University B.

Before I bring this entry to a close, let me briefly list the scholarships available in Taylor’s College ADP. First, there is the Tan Sri Loy scholarship for SPM or ‘O’ Level students which is only offered for the Januray intake. Second is the ADP General Merit Scholarship, of which five are rewarded, each scholarship worth RM7,200, eligibility being SPM students with 9A’s and above, or O level students with 7A’s. Then, there is the UEC scholarship, five scholarships worth RM7,200 each for UEC students with 7A’s and above, and ten scholarships worth RM3,600 for UEC students with 10-12 points for the best 7 subjects (UEC students, you should know what that means). Finally, there is the General Special Achievement Award Scholarship, of which 20 are offered, each worth RM3,600. To qualify for this, students have to:
a) Obtain no more than 20 points for their best 5 subjects in UEC examinations
b) Obtain no more than 20 points for their best 5 subjects in SPM examinations
c) Obtain a minimum grade 8 average in SMU3
d) Obtain a minimum of 4B’s in their O levels

For those who are worried about the costs when one transfers, scholarships are available, albeit only partial. If you maintain a high enough GPA above 3.0 or 3.5 depending on the university, scholarships range from USD1000 to USD13,000 for one year. That brings down the total cost to about USD 20k per year or higher, depending on the university you transfer to.

I admit that ADP is not a cheap program. In Taylor’s College, one credit hour costs 400 ringgit and the cost for a semester of 12-15 credit hours ranges from about 5800 ringgit to about 7000 ringgit. Furthermore, when one transfers, the cost can average about USD 20k per year even with scholarships. However, it does give an opportunity for middle class families who would otherwise not be able to finance all four years of their children’s education overseas to still be able to send their children overseas. To give an idea, the total cost of one year in ADP only comes out to about one-fourth of the total cost per year if enrolled in a US university; one saves quite a substantial amount.

Now that you have obtained some basic information regarding the essence of the American Degree Program, feel free to e-mail me at shogun_clancyfan@yahoo.com for more enquiries.

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by Chuah Shu Guan

Chuah Shu Guan was a student of Taylor’s College American Degree Program from January 2003-August 2005. While in ADP, he was the President of Student Council, Editor of Flipside (College Magazine), and President of Be_ADP(Business Entrepreneurship Society of ADP). He was chosen as the ADP Valedictorian for Summer 2005 and will be transferring to Wichita State University this January. There, he intends to major in Economics and Political Science.

NOTE: Besides Taylor’s College, INTI College, Nilai College and HELP University College among many others also offer scholarships that can range up to a full tuition fee waiver for their ADP courses. Contact the relevant institutions for more details.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

SPM - Pre-U: International Baccalaureate Diploma

“Eh, so what you studying in US ah?”

“I’m doing the IB,” I answer.

“Wth is that?”

The International Baccalaureate Diploma, fondly known as the IB, is a pre-university course fairly unknown to many Malaysians. Instead of launching into a tirade about it, having been asked the question so many times, I usually reply with something like, “er, something like A-levels and STPM-lah.”

Truth be told, the IB is not exactly similar to A-Levels and STPM. In the IB, the focus is to create give students a holistic education. One is required to take six academic subjects in six different subject areas; at least 3 in Higher Level and 3 in Standard Level. The six different areas consist of: Group 1 - Language A1, Group 2 - second language, Group 3 - individuals and societies, Group 4 - experimental sciences, Group 5 - math and computer science, and the arts. The arts component can be replaced by options from Groups 1-4 or Further Math or Computer Science in Group 5. To give you an example, in my case, I am taking English Text and Performance for Group 1, Spanish ab initio for Group 2, Economics for Group 3, Chemistry for Group 4, Math Higher Level for Group 5, and Physics as an option for Group 6.

In my opinion, the good thing about the IB is that unlike the A-Levels and STPM, it is not totally exam-based. Coursework in class does count for a significant portion of one’s final grade. In my Text and Performance course, the performance aspect consists of two-fifths of my final IB grade; in economics, essays for internal assessment consist of roughly one-fifth of my final grade. Thus, it takes off some pressure off the candidate in comparison to having everything based on a final exam.

In addition to the subjects, other requirements have to be met as part of the course: Theory of knowledge, Creativity, Action and Service(CAS), and the Extended Essay. Theory of Knowledge(TOK) is a course that intends to teach students how to analyze problems of knowledge in issues we face daily in and out of the classroom. TOK requires one to do a presentation and also to write a 1200-1600 essay on a chosen topic as part of the requirements of the course. For the Extended Essay or EE, IB students are required to do independent research on a topic of interest to them to equip them with independent research and writing skills required in university work. This paper should be about 4000 words and is usually done in one of the subjects that a candidate is taking.Last but not least, and also my personal favorite of the IB course, is the Creativity, Action and Service(CAS) component. The goal of CAS is to produce well-rounded and responsible citizens. As part of my CAS, I get to do Forest Service, be part of the New Mexico Search and Rescue Network, as well as learn new things like Massage and Ballroom Dancing.

According to the official IB website, there are 6 schools in Malaysia that offer the IB Diploma: 4 private and 2 government. The government ones are MARA College Banting and MARA College Seremban. The four private ones are Intl School of Kuala Lumpur, Intl School of Penang(Uplands), Mont’ Kiara Intl School and KDU Smart School Sdn Bhd. As far as I know, Intl School of Kuala Lumpur and Intl School of Penang(Uplands) offer scholarships for the IB Diploma.

Official International Baccalaureate website
International School of Penang(Uplands)
International School of Kuala Lumpur IB Scholarships

Friday, December 09, 2005

Congratulations

Congratulations to Eng Han for getting into Dartmouth early decision!

We knew you could do it!