Bombarded all day and all night

Options at your fingertips: Raja Firdy Armand Shah (right) and his mother, Nik Nur Haswani, looking at online applications for universities. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

Dubious college messages swamp post-SPM students

PETALING JAYA: With the SPM done and dusted and the results in hand since last month, parents of college-bound kids are now being besieged by marketing push notifications by academic institutions.

These messages, according to the parents, would even come in the wee hours of the morning.

“I would get up to 30 messages in a day from strangers,” said accountant Farisha Malek, 48, whose son scored 8A1 in the SPM recently.

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“And I have been receiving even more messages from various institutions since late last month,” she added.

Initially, she found it all quite informative.

“But when they keep beeping and coming after midnight, it becomes a nuisance,” she added.

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Teacher Christie Ng, whose twin daughters are seeking to further their studies after getting their SPM results last month, said she had been getting a whole range of messages from unknown sources, promoting all types of courses.

From a cabin crew programme to customer service and other skills training, she has received them all.

“Some would invite parents and students to attend their talks or open days.

“Others asked us to bring our documents and join their interview sessions,” she said when contacted.

Ng wondered how these strangers got her contact details and her daughters’ names.

All she had done was leave her contact number with her children’s school.

“My kids submitted my number for all forms given by the school for career seminars.

“Their friends, who listed their own numbers, also received these messages on their own phones,” she added.

Last month, a reader of The Star shared his predicament as well.

“In the last few weeks, I have been inundated by a steady stream of text messages and phone calls from various sources asking my daughter to consider a given course or attend a briefing by a particular learning institution.

“They know my number, my daughter’s name, and the fact that she was waiting to receive her SPM results.

“Yet I have never given any of this information to anyone,” wrote Nordin Abdullah, who is the Malaysia Global Business Forum’s founding chairman.

A media consultant, who only wanted to be known as Zeta, was of the view that many of the courses promoted through this mass messaging are “questionable”.

“They often come with a line about the courses being sponsored by the Education Ministry and that students can even receive allowances while studying.”

But when she went with her children to one of the open day events, Zeta said she found that the information given to her was misleading.

She claimed she was asked to pay a registration fee of RM800 for her son and daughter’s enrolment after their interview.

“I asked them, wasn’t the course sponsored by the government? They said it was ‘supported’ by the Education Ministry.

"When I asked further, they could not tell me which department under the ministry gave them the backing,” she said, adding that she eventually got her son into a community college after getting information through the UPU Online website and her daughter into a Form Six college.

“I think we should not simply trust those messages that are sent to us. We must check their authenticity with the relevant authorities,” she added.

Sales executive Marianne Maran, 49, concurred, saying that she was glad she followed her instinct to check a higher learning institution’s registration code and the approval code for the course with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

“It turned out that my son almost enrolled in a course that is yet to be recognised. The course adviser did not tell us that, despite sending us lots of promotional material every day.

“When I threatened to report them to the police, he blocked my number,” she said.

Ling Yu Shuang, 17, who scored 6A1 in her SPM, said she had been bombarded by messages promoting courses and education events for months.

“The messages started trickling after the trial exam late last year. It was manageable at first, but ever since I received my SPM results, it’s been really bad.

“There was too much information; I didn’t know if it was real, and I’ve had to block some of the aggressive senders.”

Working part-time as a service staff member at a cafe now, Ling, who is from Melaka, said she is not in a hurry to further her studies.

“I have not made up my mind because there are a few subjects that I like.

“With my dad’s help, I have signed up for some short courses in the next few months.

“He said it is better not to rush so that I don’t end up doing something I don’t like. I hope these short courses will help guide me better later,” she said.

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