Path to University

Path to University

Article : Ian Tsang          Edited : Konrede Limited           Date : July 2020

Summer is meant to be a relaxing moment for secondary school’s graduates. Unfortunately, the pandemic is greatly affecting our leisure activities. In the past years, many of these students have spent a lot of time and effort, trying to get into their top universities. School closure in Hong Kong is affecting students’ progress. As a result, both teachers and students are stressed.

In Hong Kong, most high school students either study the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) or the International A-Level (IAL), so they can apply to universities. However, have we ever thought about their differences?

HKDSE can evaluate a student’s all-round abilities, but it can be a nightmare for some of the students. This is because Chinese, English, Mathematics and Liberal Studies are compulsory. The students need to pass all of them, so they stand a chance of getting into local universities. Otherwise, they might need to consider overseas institutes. Sadly, some local secondary schools have very limited resources. For example, Art students may not receive enough support from their schools, limiting their university choices and further career paths.

IBDP is another very popular curriculum. It is widely recognised and most international schools in Hong Kong teach it. Some top universities prefer IBDP because of its Extended Essay (EE) and Theory of Knowledge (TOK). These two components can prepare the students ahead for their university studies since they can show analytical thinking and researching skills. Given Visual Art is more subjective than other academic subjects, when writing the EE, students can refer to their artworks and try to present them personally. Then the teachers can understand them better and to give better grades.

IAL originates from the UK’s high school exam. It is globally recognised and graded by foreign exam boards. Most IAL students will only take three to four subjects and the contents are generally more extensive. Students can manage their time more effectively and focus on the subjects that they are good at. This is beneficial to ones who have clear directions. For Art students who want to pursue a related degree, they can spend more time on improving their portfolios and increase their chances.

As we can see, these qualifications have different advantages. Students should choose based on their abilities, interests and circumstances. If they feel uncertain, they can ask parents and teachers for advice then make the most suitable choice. There is no absolute right or wrong answer.