Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can homeschoolers go to college & university? YES!! (If they want to)

I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about homeschooling is these kids will not be able to go to college. And honestly, that is also my worry. Luqman is 15yo this year. Homeschooling him next year will be more challenging than homeschooling Emily. In the sense that we need to make sure we are making a responsible decision and not screwing up his future.

So me and Mr O have been attending seminars and talking to people who have done it. Just to equip ourselves with necessary info. I know very well that lack of knowledge in your child's education option can be very costly. Unnecessarily costly.

Last Tuesday, we went to Methodist College KL (MCKL). Somewhere in Brickfields. It's an open day for homeschoolers organized by a homeschooling mom. And MCKL has been nice enough to sit down with us the HS families and explain to us the options. So I just thought of sharing the info. Hopefully it will benefit u.

Firstly, the basic minimum requirement is O level or its equivalence.
O level=SPM=Year 11. More or less.
In US, Year 12=SPM.

So after Year 11 or 12, what's the option? 
They can either go to local private colleges and universities OR overseas. So the options are the same with schooling kids.

Then Mr Ruben Chan, the marketing guy from MCKL explained to us the entrance requirements for both options.

Entrance requirements for oversea college and universities;
1. SAT
2. Year 11 (or Year 12)--> depends on the college.
Some lower tier universities & colleges accept high school diploma & SAT. Most top tier universities will require Year 12 & SAT. So, need to check with individual colleges.

1. Either AUSMAT or South Australian Matriculation (SAM). There's a difference between this two. AUSMAT is 50% internal and 50% exam. SAM has more internal. Maybe 70% Hence it might not be recognized in some colleges.

2. A-Level/Year 12 / any equivalent recognized pre-U course.

1. A-Level/Year 12 / any equivalent recognized pre-U course. UK universities recognized AUSMAT too.

Entrance requirements for local private college and universities;

Pre-U; 5 Credits
Diploma; 3 Credits
Certificate; 1 credit
Professional course; 3-5 credits

*Credits=C in SPM/O level or its equivalent.
Of course u must remember this is the minimum requirement. U might be eligible but it doesn't guarantee u a place. U still have to compete with the rest to ensure u get the spot.

The other important thing to remember for local private college/universities is the student MUST have the following additional qualification.

1. A credit in SPM BM paper--> This is required prior to pre-U. The good news is u can take this as a private candidate. Sitting is in June and December. And u can take just one paper. No need to take the whole SPM.

2. Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) subjects: (these subjects can be taken during pre-U)
1. Malaysian Studies
2. Islamic studies (for Muslim) or Moral Studies (for non-Muslim)

In summary, the kids will need to have at least 5 credits from O-level to enter any universities. If they plan to go to local universities then an additional credit in BM SPM is mandatory. A lot of people overlook this. The MQA subjects is mandatory too for local colleges/universities. U will get into trouble later when u apply jobs in government, GLC and some private companies which require MQA.

How many seatings are allowed?

Different colleges has different requirement but MCKL required these 5 credits from maximum 2 seatings. I was told by a relative who worked in UITM, local universities will require all 5 subjects to be taken in 1 seating.

Pre-U options & costing (estimate)
1. A-level ---> $35K
2. AUSMAT/SAM ---> $20K
3. International Baccalaureate (IB) ---> 80K
IB is very tough and expensive. SO far in Malaysia, Taylor College & KDU do offer this program. Not sure about others.
4. American Degree Transfer Programme (ADP) ---> $35K
5. Canadian Pre-U ---> $30K
6. Foundation studies ---> $15K
Foundation studies is a program created by individual universities. Usually it's easier and faster. BUT it may not be recognized by other universities.

Of all these programs, the first 2 options i.e A-level & AUSMAT are the safest as it's the most recognized worldwide.

Then, the next question is where to go? US? UK? Australia? Local???

My understanding now is it really depends on what course the kid want to do.

If your kid want to do medicine, law or accountacy-->don't go US. To do these courses, u will need to earn another degree first. And a degree in US is 4 years. Then proceed with a second degree. For a privately financed student, that will means longer time=more $$$. And it's very2 competitive to get a spot for course like medicine. esp for international students. This is the same case with other universities too. In 2012, Oxford only offer 2 spots for medicine for international students. And MCKL is very proud to tell us that one of the 2 international students that get the spot was from MCKL ;-)

But seriously, if any of my kids want to do medicine, they will do it locally. Mainly due to costing. And quality of education they will be getting to earn the medical degree. After working in pharmaceutical industry for many2 years and mingling with local doctors, I strongly believe the quality of education in the local universities (specifically medical department in public universities) is at par (IF not better) with oversea universities. Once u get a medical degree, u can easily get a scholarship to further your studies and do your specialization overseas.

To earn a medical degree in USM will cost less than RM$10K. In IMU it will cost us $100K. In Monash (Sunway) it will cost u $500K. In Oxford it will cost u $1.5million. So make your pick ;-)

But US education system do have advantage. There is more flexibility.

US has a different system called Liberal Arts Education. Liberal art colleges emphasizes general intellectual capabilities instead of technical and professional curriculum. As such, the student do not have to choose their major in the first 2 years. They can study diverse subjects and explore their interest and only make their career choice in the final 2years.

The other advantage is US is more generous with scholarship. In comparison to UK and Australia. Especially during the freshman year (1st year). Mr Chan gave us a tip. If the kids go to US with their A-level result, they might be able to skip freshman year and do credit transfer. His advise is DON'T SKIP. Just do the freshman year because most scholarship is offered for freshmen. If u skip freshman year, u are not eligible for the scholarship.

He also elaborated on scholarship. There are many ways to get scholarship. We need to apply entry into university first. Then work out the application for scholarship. Not the other way round. Scholarship depends on other things as well. eg. general knowledge, community service etc etc. In fact, even entry to the universities depends on other things too. Not just the academic result.

He related his experience to us. One of MCKL's student was doing her interview to enter Oxford via skype. The first question she was asked was: "How many different ways can u use a paper clip?" Go figure ;-)

Of course there are other things to take note eg. application deadline, intake deadline, subject to choose etc etc. Lots of stuffs to think about. I think it's easier to go through a college rather than doing it on our own. We'll cross the bridge when the time comes. In the mean time, I will just let the kids explore their interest.

If u have any extra information to add, or if I misunderstood some stuffs, do let me know. But I do hope this helps u in any way. Be rest assured that a homeschooling kid stand an equal chance to earn a degree. That is if they choose to go the college way.


  1. Hi, just it easy to apply for a Mara loan with o levels & homeschooled? Would they want to see some papers like extra-curriculum activities, school leaving certificate etc. Tq

  2. I don't know about easy. And I have not ask MARA or JPA directly. Although I was told if u get offer from the top 100 universities in the world, u will be eligible for JPA scholarship. For extracurricular, no worries. In fact as a HS, u actually have more opportunity for extra curricular activities. I do believe teh top tier universities prefer depth than breadth. It would be better to be very involved with few things than bits of everything. And we have quite a number of HS kids who have been very successful eg in sports.

  3. Thanks for sharing. My son is also 15 yrs. Am not worried abt college so much but his studies. He is quite slow.

  4. Very helpful info. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Very insightful.

  6. I have a CIBTAC Diploma in photographic and fashion makeup and would now like to further my studies for an advance diploma. The catch is I do not have the required 3 O levels credit required - only have a distinction and a pass. Will my diploma and the 2 O levels not suffice as an entrance requirement? Please advice. Tq.

  7. Hi, I am not an expert. My advise is for u to go check it out with the college/university itself. And it also depends whether u want to proceed locally or overseas. Different country, different colleges, different requirements. In addition, the requirements change from time to time. eg; At the time I wrote this posting, the government said credit in BM SPM paper is a must. Recently I heard it's not the case anymore. All the best in your future endeavour.

  8. Hi,

    I thought it was impossible to qualify for local universities once you HS.

    Many HS parents that I spoke have never considered studying in local U at all and AFAIK, I have yet to come across any HS children in local U.

    I ws once informed by a parent who enquired about HS with JPS and was told, "If you leave the public education system, you leave completely at all levels".

  9. A friend of mine just enrolled her HS kids in UIA and MAHSA. It's best to check with individual universities but basically they do accept O-level/IGCSE.

  10. I mentioned to my gynae's wife that since my kids are HS-ed then they won't be able to go to local U. She told me it's not true because many foreign service civil servants studied overseas with foreign certification still can get a place in the local unis.

  11. thanks for this kind of wonder full blog it will help us a lot to know about the college and schooling life. private college in Malaysia is good for those student who are looking for study abroad.

  12. Hi I am struggling to start home schooling my child who is not coping well in the government school, as I am not familiar with the necessary requirements (legal) from the MOE. How did you do it? Especially with a secondary student. Once I remove him from government school, what is the next step? Do I have to register him for SPM or IGCSE or SAT? What curriculum is suitable for him? How do I go about this? Thanks