THE Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations for 2023 ended last month and for many school-leavers, the next phase of their educational pursuit will start soon, if they have not enrolled in private institutions already based on their SPM trial results.

Having put three children through private tertiary education, including my youngest son last year, this is a testing time for parents too.

Private tertiary education is not cheap and can put parents back by up to hundreds of thousands per child. The costs will be higher if it involves overseas education.

It does not help that our ringgit has weakened considerably over the years, which affects parents whose children are studying overseas. Even in neighbouring Singapore, the exchange rate is now hovering at RM3.50 for every S$1.

As parents, we would want our children to opt for tertiary education that aligns more with our financial ability. On the other hand, we also want our children to enjoy quality education and not study in some fly-by-night institution with dubious credentials.

Based on my experience, I noticed that some parents are led by the nose by their children who have a commanding say on where they want to study, but can be oblivious to their parents’ financial abilities or lack of them.

Some students are subjected to peer pressure or taken in by the “glamour” of studying in certain institutions, which charge an arm and a leg just for being “fanciful”.

This is why communication and research are key for parents and students. Parents should communicate the parameters they have in mind when their children select where they want to further their education.

Students should also articulate their expectations to their parents. Ideally, both sides should meet halfway.

I also noticed that some parents and students quickly decide on their choice for colleges or universities without doing much research.

In Malaysia, there are different tiers of tertiary institutions.

For example, top-tier institutions may have a good track record and reputation but can be costly.

The second-tier institutions also offer comparable quality education but are more affordable. It is just that they may not be as “glitzy” as the top-tier institutions.

There is no need to always go for the top-tier institutions as some of the programmes may not be suitable for students. It is understandable that in an industry as competitive as education, certain institutions have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others.

The key is communication and research. When enough is done on both fronts, parents and students will be able to avoid common pitfalls when selecting an institution and course of study.

In the long run, it would also save parents a lot of headaches and heartache.

Clickable Image
Clickable Image
Clickable Image