By SARUN SAELEE
On March 3, 2012, Thai Grade 12 students nationwide gathered at their arranged examination places across the country. It was the time playing an important role to draw their future life, including careers. It was the time with full of tension. It was the first day of the second General Aptitude Test (GAT) and Professional Aptitude Test (PAT).
GAT and PAT are one of the main factors in the university admissions system of Thailand. They account for 10-50 percent and 0-40 percent respectively. The rest comes from Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPAX) from Grade 10 to Grade 12 with six semesters in total, at 20 percent and Ordinary National Educational Test (O-Net) at 30 percent, according to the Central University Admissions System. GAT and PAT are arranged twice each year whilst O-Net is only once.
Considering the said criteria, about 80 percent of the total score is purely from the exam rooms. The scores judge if students are qualified to study in their preferred fields and universities. Therefore, many Thai students must inevitably be studying very hard in order to ready themselves for a series of tests coming at the end of their high school life. They take many tutorial classes outside their schools and keep studying until late night. Their joyful life has somehow turned to be troublesome.
However, nothing can guarantee that their attempts will be effective, or they will get satisfactory marks in the admissions tests. Not every student in Thailand will get into public universities deemed prestigious by parents and the society. Some students disappointed from the exams must resort to the private ones instead, which normally cost higher tuition fees.
Many students somehow feel ashamed if their names are not included in the lists of the so-called ‘public university-admitted students’. They have given priority to the institutions rather than their real interest in the course contents differently provided by each university. Some also said they were willing to study in any public universities regardless of the academic fields. They just desperately want to be one of the students, who are capable to get into the public universities. They are afraid of being not accepted.
I can say that it is not wrong if they want to get into public universities to reduce expenses because their family’s financial status does not support them to study in costly places. This means they have good intention and they are good children. However, it will be so wrong for those who choose to give up their original intention in studying what they really want, just because they want the pride of being called ‘public university students’.
In my viewpoint, not every public university in Thailand has the same standard of education. Some are good, but some are not. In addition, the course contents are certainly more important than just the brand names of the universities. The students had better choose what they want to learn rather than keep upholding such a stressful prejudice set by themselves.
Dear all high school students who are going to be undergraduate students very soon, no matter how the admission results will turn out to be, let me remind you something. There is no rule that only graduates of public universities will be successful in their life while those from private ones will not. There is also no rule that public university students are always smarter than the private ones. Test results are not everything and not the end of the world. The educational standards of public and private universities are incomparable with different strengths and weaknesses. The prestige does not come from the university. Everything depends on you only. You have many choices to walk now. Give up the prejudice, choose wisely, work hard and be proud of yourself. Good luck!