The release of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination and the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate results across Barbados and other participating CARICOM Member States is a highly anticipated period during the summer holidays. Firstly, it marks the official end of summer for students (and educators) and secondly, students can now decide on their next steps. Be it, Sixth form, college, university, work or whether they have to go back to the drawing board.
The newspaper headlines are flooded with the smiles of the those that performed in the highest percentile. We read about the stories of excellence among the region's brightest. Right here in Barbados, we see the smiles of recipients of the island's most prestigious awards: the Barbados Scholarships (full scholarship) and Exhibitions (partial scholarship). After two years of CAPE studies, which consists of high doses of perseverance, patience and pray, being awarded with a scholarship or an exhibition is a dream for many sixth formers. These awards brings them closer to pursuing their higher education goals. For many, this entails going abroad to pursue their undergraduate degree at a leading college or university.
While the spotlight is on a select few, this period for many students marks their official start for preparing for college/university. Over the years of working in the field, I've made a few observations regarding student eligibility for college and university after CSEC and CAPE, which I will share in this entry.
1) Higher chance of Math being dropped after CSEC - Mathematics is one of those subjects that you either like or dislike. There is no middle ground. While I completely understand the sentiments, it is also known that Math is often a mandatory requirement for many undergraduate degree programs. While CSEC Math, may be an adequate requirement for some post-secondary programs, higher level Math is often required for degree programs, particularly in fields such as Science Technology, Engineering, and even Business.
2)Subjects a chosen does not match the student's actual interest or allow for change - Some students tend to pursue subjects which have no correlation to their actual area of interest. Imagine the student with six passes at CSEC that has now decided that they would like to pursue science as a possible career. The student has Math and English but has no pure science subject except Human and Social Biology. Their eligibility for most post-secondary programs will be low.
3)Strategy for scholarship may conflict college/university eligibility - the road towards a scholarship or any type of financial award based on academic merit has a major impact on the subjects/courses chosen. The choices made may be part of a strategy to ensure a higher chance of award success. For some students, the choices made can impact their college/university eligibility. Over the past five years, I have observed negative admissions outcomes among top students, particularly those apply to STEM programs. While it is understood that engineering programs can be categorised as high-demand and supra-competitive, a closer look at the reasons for the rejection reveals that the stipulated academic requirement was not met. Quite often, the student is missing higher level math courses.
4)Apply to college/university; think later - There is a common perception that college preparation is simply just filling out applications and sending transcripts off to an institution. What often happens is that persons start to have questions about the program, the school, the outcomes after submitting an application. More questions arise especially after a negative admissions outcome. Quite often, college advisors are sought out after this process is completed; however, in most cases they are unable to assist. The truth is, there is still a large majority of persons do not seek professional advice before applying to college and university. What is unfortunate is that the realisation that professional advising is critical often comes only after valuable time and money has been wasted.
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