After O-levels: Private School or Study Abroad?
Should you study in a private school in Singapore or should you study abroad? The O-level results will be released soon and you may face this question. When your only options are between the two, how should you make your choice? We cannot make a decision for you but we want to help! Our team at Epigami have come to the conclusion that everything boils down to 2 big factors: time & cost and quality of education. Aside from the 2 big factors, we have also considered 4 other smaller factors at the end of this post so do look out for them as well!
#1. Time & Cost
The biggest concern on everyone’s minds will be the time and cost involved in each option. We have 3 key pieces of advice for you.
- Think about the qualification that you want
Do you want to take your O-levels again? Do you want to proceed and try to take the A-levels as a private candidate? Do you want to head straight to university, get your degree and start working after that?
The length of study and range of costs will depend on the decision that you make now. Sounds heavy, we know, but it is important to think long and hard about what you want to do now. At the same time, you don’t have to struggle with this decision by yourself, feel free to consult your parents, teachers and friends so that you can figure something out together!
When considering the issue of cost, don’t just focus on the cost of the course that you are planning to take now whether it is taking the O or A levels privately or entering university overseas – think also about what happens after that. Will you be furthering your studies in a university overseas by pursuing a Masters or Ph.D? Needless to say, if you do so your expenses will shoot up. Will you be coming back to Singapore to study? Public university fees in Singapore for Singaporeans or PRs are subsidised so the total cost will be relatively lower than studying in a college overseas. Will you start working immediately? If so, then perhaps cost is slightly less of an issue for you.
Some schools offer two identical courses where one takes a shorter time to complete and usually the shorter course will cost less. However, also think about what you can handle. Are you confident that you will be able to keep up with an intensive course? Remember that by the end of the course, you will be sitting either the O or A level examinations or obtaining a degree qualification and you will want to emerge proudly with good results. So if you need help with the exams and are looking for a tutor, we can help you!
If you are considering private schools in Singapore, there are 3 options available for you. You can enrol to re-take your O-levels as a private candidate, take the A-levels as a private candidate or enter into University directly to earn a degree. For a start, you may consider schools like MDIS, SIM , and Kaplan.
The length of study and fees will differ depending on which course you choose. In general, the courses for O and A levels range from 1 to 2 years (some private schools also offer shorter courses that may cost more), while the courses for Diploma or Degree range from 3 to 4 years. Private schools like SIM and Kaplan also offer part-time courses such that students can work while they are studying. This may help to ease the financial burden a little while gaining some practical working experience which may be useful in future. Additionally, SIM Global Education and Kaplan also partner with foreign universities and offer degree qualifications that you can obtain locally or even at those foreign universities with certain programmes.
If you’re considering studying abroad you can either take the O or A levels qualifications or enrol directly in a university to obtain a degree.
If you obtain an A level qualification abroad and want to use the A level qualifications to enter into a local university in Singapore, you have to check whether the school is reputable otherwise entry into Singapore universities may be difficult and you will have to apply for either private or overseas universities.
Alternatively you can enrol directly into a university to get a Bachelor’s
degree. In fact, many universities overseas like Monash College and Canterbury Christ Church University allow students who have O-level qualifications to take up their bachelors degree courses as long as they complete what they called a foundation year/course. This is a year-long course that will prepare students to take the degree course later on. Therefore, within 3-5 years you may emerge with a Bachelor’s Degree. The cost of studying abroad will not be cheap however an upside is that you may even consider furthering your studies to obtain a Master’s degree or even a Ph.D
so that you can return back to Singapore with higher qualifications.
#2. Quality of Education
The second biggest concern that both you and your parents would have is regarding the quality of the education that you will be receiving.
We certainly do not want you to be paying so much money and not getting your money’s worth. As this concerns your education and future, you should research about the schools before deciding whether to enrol there. Overall we have a couple of tips for you:
If you are considering studying abroad, there are various lists that rank universities out there. Do a quick search on Google to find the latest information. There are no such lists for private schools in Singapore, but it would be good to at least check whether those private schools are MOE-approved.
We would like to emphasize that rankings are not everything. The rankings only give an overall evaluation and they cannot accurately represent the strength of the school in a particular subject or course. If you have friends or relatives who have gone overseas or enrolled in private schools locally, contact them and ask them about their experiences. Or if you know people who are currently working in the related sector, you can ask for their opinion on which schools are recognised in those fields. You can also go online and check what some people have said in forums.
If you are thinking of getting a degree whether via the private school route or going overseas, then it would also be important to check the non-academic aspects of the school as well because rankings cannot reflect things like school culture, style of education and environment. It you are going to be there for about 3 to 4 years, it would be best to make sure that you like the culture of the school. You can even check out their social media platforms and look through their Facebook photos, Twitter posts and even the blogs of current students.
- Check what people are saying
This might not be applicable for all schools but if you still have concerns about the quality of the school you can try to take a look for yourself and see whether you are okay with the school. If you’re concerned about the private school in Singapore, you can just drop by their school and check out the situation on the ground. If you are considering studying abroad, then check whether those schools provide summer courses that can serve as a taster course for you.
- Go down to judge for yourself
Other factors: NS, Distance, Safety, Entry Requirements, Language
Having identified 2 big factors already, now we would like to introduce some other smaller factors that you should also consider when deciding whether to pursue your studies overseas.
Understandably, some parents may be concerned about the distance between Singapore and the foreign country and the level of safety. If distance is a concern, you could consider nearer countries like Hong Kong, Australia or New Zealand. If you are worried about safety, if would be good to check up on the latest online rankings that list some countries which are reputed to be safe.
Before applying for a school, look out for their entry requirements. For the males out there, do check how the school will handle your NS deferment for you before going ahead with the application. This will allow you to decide whether you should complete your NS before finishing your studies or pursue your education and then come back to complete your NS.
Lastly, some people might be concerned about language. If you’re not the kind of person that is keen to pick up a new language, then your choices will be limited to the English-speaking countries like the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. This affects your decision in two ways. First, it eliminates nearer Asian countries like China, Hong Kong or Japan because most of their reputable schools will conduct lessons entirely in their native language. Second, it even eliminates European countries that do not use English in everyday life. While the lessons may be taught in English, if you are not comfortable with living in a society where the majority do not speak English like in France or Germany then it will be better to look for other options.
Need more information? Try attending a couple of education fairs. There are more out there so do look out for them! You can also check out what people say on online forums.
We hope that this article has been useful for you in deciding your next steps. Look out for more posts by our team and subscribe to our blog to keep up to date. Meanwhile, you can check our Ultimate Guide for O-levels. You can also like our Facebook page for regular updates. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!