What’s next after SPM
TOMORROW, the wait will be over for 434,535 candidates who sat the 2016 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination. With the announcement of the exam results tomorrow, SPM school-leavers now have to face the daunting task of taking the next step in terms of furthering their education.
After a structured school system where students generally pursued either the science or arts stream, how best can they decide on the field of study and programme? The decision is not a light one as it is the first step towards determining the path their future will take.
Professional career coach Nik Faiz Iskandar Nik Zahari said students in the country tend to view higher education as a mere paper chase.
“Most students here regard institutions of higher learning as a means to gain a diploma or degree qualification that they can boast about. This mindset has to change. School-leavers and aspiring undergraduates have to plan their future careers before deciding on the course that they want to pursue,” he said.
Professional trainer and motivator Jackson Ng said SPM school-leavers should not be pressured by their peers to apply for a particular course or succumb to their parents’ demands. Instead, they should look to themselves for indicators of their interest, talents and inclination.
“Identify your passion. Look at your innate abilities — the talent you are born with. Pay attention to the compliments others give you with regards to what you are good at.
“And listen to the voice inside of you, what you are keen on. These are indicators of the field of study you should pursue. Of course, these have to be mapped against the current and future job market,” he said.
Ng cautioned that oftentimes when students base their decision on friends or are pushed by their parents, they end up switching courses halfway, resulting in loss of money and time. Or if the student does graduate and earn a diploma or degree, he finds himself unable to find employment as he has no passion for the field.
Deciding on studies after Form Five can be stressful if one does not have knowledge of the career decision-making process, said HELP University lecturer and counsellor Justin Yap.
“Ideally, one should have knowledge about both oneself and the world of work. Self-knowledge in the areas of interests, aptitudes and skills, personality, as well as values is essential.
“Secondly, it is vital to have some knowledge about the workplace such as a basic job description, office environment and requirements such as skills and education.
“When we have both these sets of information, we are then able to match who we are and what the job requires, providing a person-environment fit which results in a high performing and satisfied worker. Even though a student may only be concerned about a field of study or a major, it’s always best to take a long-term view as one only spends three to eight years at university but close to 30 years in the workplace,” he said.
Career Cube head and consultant Mastura Mansor recommends SPM school-leavers take a personality test to find out their interest.
“A common test for students is the Holland Code (RIASEC). RIASEC is the Holland Occupational Themes which refer to a theory of personality that focuses on career and vocational choice. It groups people on the basis of their suitability for six catego- ries of occupations. In RIASEC, students differentiate themselves with six different categories and interests,” she said.
The characters are summarised as either realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising or conventional.
The RIASEC Code guides students on the environment and career that will suit their personality. “Once they know their personality and their favourite subject, they can find out more about careers that suit them and choose an institution for pursuing their studies.”
SCIENCE VERSUS ARTS
Both science and arts secondary school-leavers have a variety of fields to choose from at higher learning institutions.
It is a misconception that arts students have second class options as they can have their pick of programmes such as social science, humanities, education (special, sports, language, music, early child, etc), business, communications, art (graphic media, animation, etc), hospitality and human resources.
“Students just need to choose the course that matches their personality and interests,” said Mastura.
Both arts and science stream students need to free themselves from the “box” they were put in at school, Ng added.
“Conventional wisdom has it that those in the science stream are destined to be professionals while those in the arts stream go into business. This is not true — science students can do well in fields such as psychology, for example.
“Although an arts background may seem like a lesser choice and an unfair starting point, the reality is that many professionals with science background work for businesses or corporations, or for entrepreneurs from the arts stream,” said Ng, adding that every industry is a business and there is equal opportunity to succeed.
“Anyway, what we study is not a worry as there is a tendency for a person to do something else every five years. Life is all about progress. Lifelong learning is key.”
Yap commented that at the Form Five level, the arts student is only held back by effort.
“Even though the arts student may be at a slight disadvantage in terms of scientific knowledge, he or she can overcome it by spending extra time reading to make up for it. To rule out
There is a tendency for a person to do something else every five years. Life is all about progress. Lifelong learning is key. JACKSON NG Professional trainer and motivator
SPM school-leavers face the daunting task of taking the next step in terms of furthering their education.
Nik Faiz Iskandar Nik Zahari at a career seminar for Form Five students.