The Star Education Fair held mid-year for the first time turned out to be a blessing as it allowed students a second chance to think of the numeorus study options available to them.
IT was the weekend before the mid-year break ended, but this did not stop students and their parents from making their way to the Star Education Fair 2014.
The visitors made a beeline for the booths offering a wide range of educational and vocational options all under one roof.
Representatives from the various institutions were busy counselling and giving away goodie bags that, among other things, had gifts and brochures.
Form Five student Biraveena Thirunaruc Karasu and her two schoolmates were among the first to arrive at the fair on Saturday and among the last to leave when it closed its doors at 7pm.
“We attended the talk on medicine as we hope to become doctors in the future.
“We came prepared with lots of questions and spoke to several career counsellors at the fair. I think we’ve got a better idea of what we should do after the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM),” she said.
Biraveena waited excitedly to catch the talk with YouTube sensation Reuben Kang who was one of the panellists for R.AGE Talks Media.
A-Levels student Calvin Choo said this was the second time he was visiting the fair, having attended the earlier one last December.
“I’m considering pursuing a degree in business or IT and the fair’s really informative,” he said.
His cousin Chow Tee Ming, a pre-university student said the career he pursued would depend on his results.
Kathryn Lee who travelled from Nilai found the fair to be helpful.
“I managed to find information regarding the options of furthering my studies overseas and the requirements I need to do so,” she added.
Chan Lye May said she was impressed by the R.AGE Talks Media session as it gave her an insight into the actual media world.
Mahsa University managing director Dr Shahril Mohamad Haniffa said several students had signed up with the university at the fair.
“On the first day of the fair we had about 250 inquiries and some students signed up on the spot and made payment. We also offered a RM500 discount for students who signed up during the fair,” he said.
HELP College of Arts and Technology senior lecturer Razif Haron said a steady stream of people visited the booth.
“Many asked about our business and psychology programmes,” he said.
Most teens were accompanied by their parents but it was the latter who were making the enquiries.
Brickfields Asia College marketing manager Jayaceva Dass said many people had visited its booth to make enquiries.
“We’ve had enquiries on A-Levels, law and business programmes from those who’ve completed their SPM,” he said.
Malaysian Institute of Technology Academy principal Margaret Chiam said she received many enquiries about courses and the costs.
“We also showcased an Ironman to promote robotics,” she added.
As in previous years, the education and career talks were a hit with visitors to the Star Education Fair 2014.
The talks on Options After SPM - Choosing The Right Pre-University Programmes and Subject Options, Medicine & Dentistry, Choosing The Right Pathway and Engineering were well patronised by both students and parents.
Most visitors were focused and had listed down the talks they wanted to attend. The talks attracted large crowds with hardly any standing space.
Sunway International School executive director and pre-university studies director Cheng Mien Wee said the bulk of those present at the talks were Form Five students.
The most important criterion when deciding on a pre-university course, was if it had been accredited by the Malaysian Government.
“Using a university’s foundation course is a strategic plan if you plan to enrol at a specific university,” she said.
However, she said this only applied if a student had already decided on a career path.
KDU University College School of pre-university studies head of school Sathyavathy Rasanayagam agreed, saying that foundation studies were meant for students focused on getting into a particular university or course.
Heriot Watt University of Malaysia assistant professor for foundation programmes Mohana-raj Balakrishnan said the programmes offered were shorter than other pre-university courses because they had a more focused content.
“We are not compromising on knowledge but reducing the burden of knowledge,” he said.
Meanwhile, at the talk on Medicine & Dentistry, Medic Ed Sdn Bhd medical education consultant Dr Khoo Ching Soong said a doctor’s life was not as ideal as portrayed in Hong Kong or South Korean medical dramas.
“One needs to be driven by passion to become a doctor for that is a determining factor,” he added.
Joining him on stage were Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia provost and CEO Prof Reg Jordan and Mahsa University dean of dentistry Prof Datuk Dr Nor’ Ain Abu Talib.
SEGi University sales and marketing director Gary Tan quoted a Chinese saying, “There is a scholar in every industry”, which meant that that there was value in each career.
“In many schools, students with better academic results tend to be channelled into the science stream. However, many universities are now offering arts stream subjects,” he said.
University of Reading Malaysia foundation studies director Clare Nukui said there were five aspects to sustainable skills for future employment, which can be learned in university.
“Soft skills such as spoken and written communication, the ability to think critically, problem solving, team work and finding out information are valuable assets taught in university to prepare students for the working world,” she said.
Taylor’s University school of liberal arts and sciences dean Dr Andy Nazarechuk said that qualifications and skills were both important to secure a job.
“Today’s employers don’t just look at grades. They look at how an employee can bring value to the company,” he said.
Chairman and co-founder of iCareer 360 Degrees Datuk Mahadzir Lokman shared his experiences on his career pathway, stressing that young people should discuss with their parents the type of courses they wanted to pursue.
“I studied medicine and business administration, and ended up being a newscaster instead,” he said, adding that when he ventured into broadcast journalism in 1984, he had no journalism or broadcasting background at all.