This post is for those who opt to go through the conventional path – college, university, or any other form of formal tertiary education. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depends on your current stage of life), this is especially for those who are still a student – in school, college, university, or in anticipation to join one.
I must say – I’m sharing this based on my personal experience. Everyone’s journey is different. There are many factors that determine our paths in life. Sometimes it’s not ABCD. Sometimes it’s BCAD. Sometimes it comes down to pure luck (or cable). But one thing for sure – we can’t be sitting around waiting for luck to come our way (eg. for the Government to announce free PTPTN), so we have to put in some effort and hopefully, it pays off.
A lil bit of background
I went to university for a four-year bachelor’s degree course. Throughout the years, I did try few times to get a scholarship but wasn’t qualified for any. Looking back, I still find it all very frustrating considering that if I were to look at my academic qualification and family financial background per se, I should’ve been able to get one. But that’s not how the world works, eh?
So the same way as fellow Malaysians, I went for PTPTN! Honestly, at that point in time as a first-year student, very much new to the outside world, I didn’t really understand what’s going on when we’re handed the PTPTN forms and have to go to briefing and signing, etc. All in my mind that time was FREE MONEY.
So just a little heads-up, juniors! If you’re about to go through the same process, IT’S NOT FREE MONEY. You have to pay for it. What a bummer right?! A few hundred ringgit of your salary, once you graduate, will have to go towards repayment of the PTPN loan – for years. Keep that in mind.
Thank god I came to that realization early that I became so determined to not pay for that PTPTN loan once I graduate. For the most part, I was driven by my frustration and annoyance that I wasn’t qualified for any scholarship.
So what did I do
“Study hard!” Tettt wrong! I studied smart, I played hard haha.
Seriously, do both! Play and study. Throughout university, I never liked the sentiment that it’s either ‘focus on your study and get the Dean’s List‘ or ‘be active, join activities but then you’ll be too busy to score‘. I challenge that notion wholeheartedly, I would say “why not both“. I did both.
I was an active student, doing (or at least trying to do) a bit of everything. Yet, I graduated with a First Class degree.
And that’s how I did not pay for PTPTN
Yes I got PTPTN repayment exemption by getting that First Class Degree!
I’m sorry if you’re hoping for some kind of life hack to make your PTPTN loan magically disappears. As of date, those with PTPTN are still required to repay their loan; and the only way to get a total repayment exemption is by graduating with a First Class Degree (generally, a CGPA of 3.7 and above).
I remember the feeling after receiving my final exam result, to see my CGPA passed the First Class pointers. Phewww I was so relieved!
Let me tell you, to graduate without any student loan is the best thing you can ever do to yourself. If you believe education should be free, get that exemption! It will save you hundreds of ringgit per month that can be used for something else. Trust me, you will have enough financial burdens without the need to add another one from your past.
If you’re reading this as a student, that’s great because you still got the chance to change things for the better. If you have reached your expiry dates, please pass this on to your brothers and sisters. And pay your PTPTN, if got lah okay, for the benefit of your fellow juniors.
The point is…
So the whole point of this post is to actually advocate those who still got the chance to do this right – to get that First Class Degree! But don’t stop just there, play hard as well. By playing hard, I mean join activities and programs, socialize, be active. Because your achievements – both academic and extracurricular – are important. So study smart and play hard!
Even if you don’t get that First Class Degree, it’s totally okay! Your achievements, be it academically or extracurricularly, would still help you in one way or another in the long run. So chase them both. I know it’s doable because I’ve been there and done that.
So why does it matter, financially speaking
Besides not paying for the PTPTN loan (which is the best thing of all) –
It gets me the job
My main consideration after I graduated was the starting salary. I only applied to a few top companies that I knew pay well and guess what, I got called to almost all of them. Within a few weeks, I landed myself a good offer. (Granted, this was pre-Covid)
There might be other factors involved but I believe the main factor is my university achievements; both academic and extracurricular-wise.
Hence I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good result or variations of things from your university years to show in your resume. That’s what opens the doors of opportunity. It’s a risky move to be selective in choosing your first job after graduating. But if you have something to offer, you can be selective.
(Apply accordingly, especially during this Covid time. I must add – if you’ve been waiting for quite some time without any offer coming your way, it’s advisable to grab any working opportunity for survivability and experience’s sake. Or if you want to go down the entrepreneurial path, go for it!)
I got higher starting salary
This works two ways. First, companies that offer good starting salaries for fresh grads generally only consider those with better resumes, i.e., excellent academic achievement and extracurricular participation. Second, certain companies have different scales of salary depending on your grade.
So to have the requisite academic and extracurricular achievements on your side will give you the chance to have that dream salary (it is a stretch to say dream salary, Malaysians generally are still underpaid).
This helps a lot okay. Starting out after university, especially when you live on your own without your family’s financial assistance, is expensive! There’s rent, phone bills, daily transportations, food, groceries, and the list goes on. I’m grateful for that extra hundreds to survive, and I’m sure you will too.
In the long run, your salary will only go up over time and a high starting salary will help to boost the salary even higher compared to others after the occasional increments. (Must again emphasize, this is for those who go through the conventional path),
To recap, academic and extracurricular achievements in university do make a difference. If you’re like the majority of us, it puts you on the right foot starting out. Even if you plan to not go down the conventional route, it’s nice to have that credential to your name. Though I must add once you get real work experience, no one really cares about your university achievements anymore.
Personally, it gives me options and freedoms to choose, to be selective, and to demand for myself. Financially, it gave me a head start – got higher pay and no student debt! But pls have financial awareness, as for me, it comes a bit late, so I’m fixing the damage right now.
In short, your academic and extracurricular achievements matter. I don’t pay for my PTPTN loan and you don’t have to, too.
Let’s continue figuringgitout.