I REFER to “Harsh reality of education in Malaysia” (The Star, June 13).
I am currently waiting for a placement as an undergraduate in a public university, having secured a 4.0 cumulative grade point average in the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) last year.
With high hopes, I chose a leading public university as my first choice to pursue a degree in Accountancy. I was filled with joy when I received a call to attend an interview from the relevant faculty earlier this month.
To ensure that I would secure a place in this prestigious university, I prepared, researched and rehearsed all the possible questions that could be asked during the interview.
When the day of the interview came, I woke up very early to travel with my father from Seremban to the venue.
There were over a hundred students in the waiting room. I talked to a few students who came from places like George Town, Alor Setar, Bentong, Ipoh, etc. Most of them had to put up a night at their relatives’ place or a hotel.
I considered myself lucky as compared to most of them, I only had to travel for about an hour.
One of the candidates shared with me her friend’s interview experience a few days back (for the same course).
Her friend told her that the waiting time was long but the interview lasted 10 minutes and only two questions were asked.
The interview was conducted in pairs; where two interviewers interviewed two interviewees at a time.
The waiting process was long indeed as there were many candidates.
After waiting for almost two hours it was my turn to enter the interview room.
I went in with my partner from Bentong, Pahang. The first question was for my partner who was asked to introduce herself. I listened to her answers and reminded myself to speak confidently when my turn came.
When it was my turn, I was asked to explain why I listed the university as my first choice. After replying, I waited anxiously for the next question.
However, the interviewers turned to my partner and asked why she put the university as her fourth choice and what her first choice was.
After her explanation, the interviewers told her frankly to drop any hope of being accepted by the university because even if she was recommended, Unit Pusat Universiti would still offer her her first choice which was another public university.
I was dumbfounded. My interview partner had come all the way from Bentong and booked a homestay just to attend the interview.
She was turned away after just one question. Her hopes of studying in the university came to naught.
I don’t understand why the university had to burden her and her family and make them come all the way to attend the interview.
It does not make sense for the university to shortlist her for the interview if there was zero chance of her getting in.
After my partner was told to give up any hope of gaining admission to the university, the interviewer asked both of us to leave the room.
It took me a few seconds to react because I couldn’t believe the interview had just ended after about 10 minutes with only one question being posed to each candidate.
Before attending the interview, I had attended a few scholarship interviews of private universities and companies. The interviews lasted an average of 30 minutes with more than five questions asked.
It is common for bright students to be rejected by top universities in Malaysia. I used to think that these students probably failed to express themselves or didn’t perform well in their interviews.
After attending the interview, I realise it’s impossible to evaluate the potential of a student with one or two questions.
I got the impression that the interview by the public university was done half-heartedly and conducted just for the sake of it.
I believe that many applicants for public university places come from a B40 and M40 background.
It is very costly for candidates and their parents to travel to the universities and spend a night in hotels. I hope public universities will take the process more seriously.