Admission packages and taking students for an expensive ride

Published: June 22, 2013
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There should be flexibility in the system that at least allows sufficient time for students to decide between schools.

It’s that stressful time of the year when students are excited and anxious at the same time; the transition between O’levels and A’levels isn’t easy. Why you might ask? Well, it’s upsetting to many students that their parents have to put down obscene amounts of money at different A’level schools to ensure that their children have a slot to study there once their O’levels are over. 

Yes, you read correctly. Schools have made a business out of students’ admission dilemma. They take advantage of our helplessness by asking for tuition fees and a security deposit in advance. However, what they fail to comprehend is that we need time. Different schools announce admission results at different times and this lack of understanding and flexibility on their part leaves us with no choice. We want to discover our options. I believe we deserve the freedom to choose between schools rather than succumb to our first option simply because we have no other option. It’s not about choosing a renowned school or an old school or one where our friends are most probably going, it’s about us. After a rough two years of O’levels I feel we should have the freedom to make this decision in peace.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note how these schools have now come up with deals. Albeit these offers are tempting, they are a bit unreasonable. For instance, The Lyceum School charges around Rs200,000 as the admission fee, security deposit and two-month advance tuition fee. Whereas, getting admitted into Nixor College costs around Rs100, 000, which includes the admission fee, security deposit, ID card fee, debit card deposit, lab and art subject fees.

This offer limits our options because they are by no stretch of the imagination, cheap. We have to be careful in deciding what we opt for and since we don’t have enough time to do so, we are scared we might make the wrong decision.

Another disadvantage of having limited time to decide is that students get stuck in all sorts of cases. For example, recently, a bunch of teachers left the Nixor College. This bred doubts among students about their decision to join the school. Despite clarification from the college’s dean in an assembly, many students want their deposits back as they are not being guaranteed the desired faculty that they had initially signed up for.

In odd cases like this and other possible ones, students are robbed off their basic rights. What if they joined the school  for those specific teachers only that decided to leave after these students had paid the full amount and were all set to attend that particular college? Shouldn’t there be some kind of compensation? Is that too much to ask for?

It is understandable that students may misuse the freedom of being able to revoke their decision but schools should also take note of the fact that there is ample time, at least five to six months between the admission processes and September – when the semester starts. Hence, there should be a reasonable time bracket in which students are permitted to change their mind.

My recommended alternate is allowing students to have at least 15-20 days to accept or reject the admission offer.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not challenging the concept of early admissions as they are found in most educational institutions globally. However, there should be flexibility in the system that at least allows sufficient time for students to decide between schools.

Conclusively, to give you a better idea of this dilemma, here is what my friend has to say,

 “I’ve was given one week to pay the admission fee at one place but I want to wait and see if I get a call from elsewhere. So I lied to them and said my father is not in town and I need more time. This got me an extension of a grand total of three days. Big whop!”

Read more by Maham here or follow her on Twitter@mahamkhanum

Maham.Kamal

Maham Kamal Khanum

The author is an International Baccalaureate graduate, studying Policy, Politics and Law at American University, Washington, D.C. She tweets as tweets @mahamkhanum (twitter.com/mahamkhanum)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Batool

    Good read! and you are right, this is getting crazier by the dayRecommend

  • JR

    Apart from few, most of these colleges are purely money making business. Charging in excess of PKR 60,000 as admission fee you are creating a divide in education and restricting it to elite, even universities like IBA charge only a mere 10,000. We should boycott these institutions, I’ve studied privately at much lower cost and a much better quality of education.Recommend

  • Saad

    Exactly! Not only A-Level institutions but the private universities in the country do the same thing, including LUMS and GIKI. I had 4 days to pay the 400,000 at GIKI after I had paid the 325,000 at LUMS a few months before when GIKI admissions hadn’t even started. This practice has to stop!Recommend

  • Faeza Jamshed

    This is a race to get admissions…..to mint more money to get more students …..who is bothered about the student here.Recommend

  • Nadir El-Edroos

    The Islamabad High Court has already passed a verdict against such acts in relation to universities. As the precedent has been set it could conceivably be applied to schools as well. Admission fees must be fully refunded, and appropriate flexibility provided so that institutions are not coercing students. This was covered here: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/11531/hec-puts-an-end-to-university-looting/ Recommend

  • The Khan-Waterloo,Ontario

    uhh.. students in Canada have to pay $350 regardless of how many Universities they want to apply in. THis is quite a big amountRecommend

  • Kajo

    Join SZABIST…it is the best investment for a professional career.Recommend

  • Rashid Subuctageen

    Could not disagree more.

    Maham, your lack of research is reflected throughout the article. Recommend

  • Global Nomad

    Rashid, can you share your points of disagreements? Recommend

  • Teacher

    Mr. Rashid, we would love to know what is the reality, are these figures of fee wrong? are not the schools giving short time for deciding? Lets here what are your disagreements!Recommend

  • hasan

    How ironic! For a country with no money, everything revolves around money – more precisely, how to take your money.Recommend

  • Khan

    Please review your article multiple times for grammatical errors before publishing. And stop fussing over the amount of enrollment fees. It’s general practice around the world to pay an enrollment fees to reserve your seat after you get admission into a college or university. Moreover, you guys have a lot of time to decide which college(s) would be best for you. Or do you apply blindly to all the elite schools? If you can’t afford the enrollment fees or the tuition fees, go to the next best college. If you think the enrollment fees are beyond the legally allowed limit, sue those institutions. You need to learn to optimize before making any decisions. Learn to recognize constraints (economic or otherwise) on your family. Recommend

  • Grammarian

    I remember in 2006 Lyceum kept its final date before the KGS list came out, since most top scorers apply to both. It was really stressful and I just didnt pay the Lyceum fee and took a chance.
    They should all have a common date, which would streamline this process alotRecommend

  • Yasir grammarian

    Yes, the private school system here is rubbish. However, a couple of things. Private school education in Karachi is NOT expensive. I know this is a poor country however the fact is private schools all over the world are getting costly. Pakistani schools are just trying to keep up. Whether the school spends that money wisely is a different issue. You are going to face extremely high tuition figures if you want to attend good universities abroad after your A levels.

    Another thing, O level students need to realize that the only reason the 2 years are “rough” is because the students themselves make it rough. Stop taking 12 plus subjects in o levels. Take a maximum of 10, do well and get it over with. I hear so many kids complain about o levels and their need for tuition. Honestly if you plan right, you won’t need tuition most of the time. You kids spend thousands on tuition every month for O levels (which is not as hard as kids tout it to be). And then you complain about expensive admission fees? Recommend

  • Rashid Subuctageen

    Teacher: The figures mentioned by Maham are close to accurate. What I strongly disagree with is the gist of the article which from my understanding mostly focuses on schools not granting students with sufficient time to make a decision. I am not familiar with the A Level admissions process for most schools in Karachi. I can, however, comment on the admissions process of the few schools mentioned in this article.

    The process is rather simple.

    Step 1: Research different A Level options to evaluate which school is best suited for your needs as a student.

    Step 2: Based on your research, apply to the school you prefer to go to

    Step 3: If you get a favourable response, confirm enrollment by making an initial payment. This typically includes the admission fee, security deposit, and the tuition fee for a month or two. If you do not get a favourable response, apply to the next best school on your list.

    It is up to the student to decide when to start thinking about A level education. The time limitation mentioned by Maham is self-imposed. The sooner you start researching your options, the more time you have to decide which school is best suited for you. To break it down even further, the decision period (set by the student) is NOT the same as the payment period (set by the school). Maham’s frustration, as expressed in the article, stems from the inability to distinguish between the two.

    It is childish to make statements like schools are trying to take advantage of the helplessness of students. For starters, you are not helpless as a student. You have plenty of time to put some thought into what you want from an A level school and match that to the options available. If you choose not to exercise your brain even a little bit, after expressing in your blog that choosing the right A level school is an important decision, then YOU are pushing yourself in a corner – NOT the school.

    It is sad that you choose to ignore everything schools are trying to do to encourage students to make informed choices. Lyceum and Nixor, the two schools you have mentioned, have done plenty to help students with choosing the right school. Detailed website, information sessions at O level schools, orientation sessions for prospective students; these schools have done more than their bit to familiarize students with the program that they offer. If despite all this, students choose to first apply blindly to several schools and then think about which one to go to, an indefinite period to confirm enrollment is not a fair expectation to have.

    It is fair for schools to assume that receiving an application form for admission translates to intent to enroll if an offer is extended. Lets not forget that the admissions process is divided into two rounds – early decision and regular decision. Recommend

  • Rashid

    Teacher: The figures mentioned by Maham are close to accurate. What I strongly disagree with is the gist of the article which from my understanding mostly focuses on schools not granting students with sufficient time to make a decision. I am not familiar with the A Level admissions process for most schools in Karachi. I can, however, comment on the admissions process of the few schools mentioned in this article.

    The process is rather simple.

    Step 1: Research different A Level options to evaluate which school is best suited for your needs as a student.

    Step 2: Based on your research, apply to the school you prefer to go to

    Step 3: If you get a favourable response, confirm enrollment by making an initial payment. This typically includes the admission fee, security deposit, and the tuition fee for a month or two. If you do not get a favourable response, apply to the next best school on your list.

    It is up to the student to decide when to start thinking about A level education. The time limitation mentioned by Maham is self-imposed. The sooner you start researching your options, the more time you have to decide which school is best suited for you. To break it down even further, the decision period (set by the student) is NOT the same as the payment period (set by the school). Maham’s frustration, as expressed in the article, stems from the inability to distinguish between the two.

    It is childish to make statements like schools are trying to take advantage of the helplessness of students. For starters, you are not helpless as a student. You have plenty of time to put some thought into what you want from an A level school and match that to the options available. If you choose not to exercise your brain even a little bit, after expressing in your blog that choosing the right A level school is an important decision, then YOU are pushing yourself in a corner – NOT the school.

    It is sad that you choose to ignore everything schools are trying to do to encourage students to make informed choices. Lyceum and Nixor, the two schools you have mentioned, have done plenty to help students with choosing the right school. Detailed website, information sessions at O level schools, orientation sessions for prospective students; these schools have done more than their bit to familiarize students with the program that they offer. If despite all this, students choose to first apply blindly to several schools and then think about which one to go to, an indefinite period to confirm enrollment is not a fair expectation to have.

    While the article mentions that “schools should also take note of the fact that there is ample time, at least five to six months between the admission processes and September – when the semester starts”, it fails to recognize that the admissions process does not start and end in January. It continues on a rolling basis till September. Students have the option of applying any time during this period.

    As for the “obsence amount of money” that schools expect students to pay: a better product will typically be more expensive (although, this isn’t ALWAYS the case). Nevertheless, fee information for school is made available to students. They have the option of not applying if it is not economically feasible for them. There are less expensive options that can be explored.

    Recommend

  • Ibrahim

    Strongly disagree with the author of this article.
    Firstly, there is plenty of time for the students to choose which college they want to choose. Its just that such students do not make most of their time. As Rashid said, the time for the students to make the decision is not the same as the time given by these colleges. And as far as colleges such as Nixor and Lyceum are concerned, they are more than helpful in making sure that they allow students sufficient rather than as the author says “in taking advantage of students helplessness”. For instance, when I applied in the Nixor college, they gave me a time of 2 weeks for the payment. During those 2 week I also got an offer from Lyceum which also gave me 2 weeks for the payment. So I called Nixor and told them that it would take me some time to make up my mind and they extended my period of payment for a further 2 weeks after which the offer would still stand and only I could not choose on my own the faculty which I desire for. In fact, my friend who got an offer from Lyceum had his period extended from March ( when he got the offer ) to August 19 because he had financial difficulties.
    If you have good grades and you’re a good student then I have witnessed it myself that every college begs you that you get an admission in their college. In fact, a friend of mine was called by KGS even two days after the semester had started to ask them if they still want an admission in KGS. So the author should realize how cooperative these colleges are.
    Further, there is no sense in saying that we are helpless. Students should research properly before blindly applying for colleges. They should make up their mind whether they want to go to Lyceum or KGS or Nixor rather than applying them in all, and making up their decision AFTER they have got an offer from all such colleges.
    So there is no point in saying that there is no flexibility in the system. I would rather say that the system is more than flexible to ensure that students have enough time to make up their minds.Recommend