Assalamu’alaikum (peace be upon y’all),
Those of you who clicked on this are probably trying to find a decent review of MDIS College, or just clicked to partake in the rants 😛
I’m not here to trash the school. Where credit is due, it must be given. Where there’s room for improvement, it should be highlighted. So I shall try to make this as unbiased as I possibly can, inshaa’Allah (God Willing), and hope that it helps you get an idea of what to expect at this institute.
This post is quite long, so here are the headers to summarise:
>>> Constructive Criticism
-Get to the point, do you recommend this place?
-I Don’t Friend You
Location: 501 Stirling Road, MDIS Unicampus
A 10 minute walk from Queenstown MRT/Commonwealth MRT. Most of my batchmates and I either took the shuttlebus from Queenstown, or took a bus from Farrer Road MRT.
In terms of surrounding amenities, there’s some coffee shops nearby, a mosque right opposite, and a civil defence post beside it. A bit ulu really. You’d best go home after school.
Though you may only be a student of the College, you have access to the library, printing services and bookshop. If you want access to the gym, you would need to get a membership card if I am not wrong. Most of us didn’t bother about that as the duration of our course was rather short.
The bookstore is located inside the library now, they couldn’t cover their costs at their former location.
There’s also a 7 Eleven (pricey), a café (not halal certified 😦 ), a study lounge, and of course a canteen. The canteen has 2 halal stalls; the Malay cuisine one and the Western stall. From what I heard throughout the year, the food’s pricey as well.
Classes are held at the Hostel Block Level 4. Air-conditioned, we often had wars with the thermostat cuz some people liked it freezing, while others didn’t. A jacket is recommended as it can get as cold as 15 degrees at times.
Classroom sizes vary depending on the class size for each subject. Tables, chairs, visualiser, carpeted floors…a nicer version of the classrooms we are used to in the normal schools.
Oh and there’s this face scanner thing in every class for you to take attendance. Yes attendance is monitored. You can be barred from prelims if you don’t make the cut. We were told it was 90%.
Toilets are quite clean too, in case you were wondering 😛 If you’re more hygienic, yup, there’s a water supply in every cubicle for your personal benefit 🙂
For science students, you get to go to the university labs once a month from March onwards to practise for the practicals. I do not think its sufficient for first-timers, especially if you had no prior experience in the lab. I relied a lot on what I had learnt at O Levels. They usually give you practicals from the international Cambridge exams to practise. The duration for lab is about 2 hours. If your class is big like mine was, chances are you’ll be fighting for space and apparatus. Not much can be done to help you there. My classmates and I only managed to persuade the admin to give us one additional lab session…which didn’t exactly materialise in the way we wanted it to. Anyways.
There are 4 courses, the 16-month O Level Preparatory Course, the 10-month O Level Course, the 16-month A Level Preparatory Course and the 10-month A Level Preparatory Course.
Sometimes the courses may not be available if they can’t meet the headcount, as was what I had encountered last year. The 16 month A Level Course wasn’t available, so I joined the 10 month one.
I won’t list down the subjects they offer; all that is on their website.
For any issues regarding the school, your attendance etc. you have to report to the admin. They can be efficient and quick to settle your issues, depending on what it is.
For things like books, resources, exam paper releases, exam results…expect delay.
For example, we only got our math textbooks in March, some of us didn’t receive our copy of other books till after June etc. Exam papers are released about 2-3 weeks after exams, only for you to see. After our prelims, we got to see our exams papers 3 weeks later, just a week or 2 before school closed.
Apparently its private school policy not to let you take your papers back home. This is true for the Diploma side of MDIS as well. Your exam transcripts take even longer.
If you have complaints or serious concerns, I think it would be best to do it via your parents or guardians. An 18/19/20/21 year old can’t be taken seriously, you know. Not even a mob of 10 of us could effectively get our concerns across sometimes. Yes, we tried. Sometimes we gave up and tried to help ourselves.
But I should say, the admin officer who handled my case when I registered was friendly and helpful, and would often ask me how my studies were going and if I had any issues.
The thing that I am impressed with most by this school is that they don’t discriminate against your colour or beliefs…as long as you got the money, you got the admission 😉
But it’s not something insignificant. The school allowed me to dress ninja style and pray in the classrooms/meeting rooms when I needed Alhamdulillah (all praise and thanks are due to God). They even went the extra mile during exam times to take me to the side/washroom to do an ID check in privacy, and let me keep my veil on at all times, unlike in the national schools, madrasahs and during the national examinations. I sincerely thank the admin for respecting my beliefs and needs throughout the time I was there.
For the 10 month A Level course that I was in, each lesson was 3 hours long. Time slots are from 8.30-11.30, 12.15-3.15 and 3.30-6.30.
It takes time to get used to the long hours, sometimes the admin can schedule you to have 3 lessons per day. So you’re there for a good 10 hours.
If you want to change your given timetable, for reasons like external classes/preference of timing/preference of teacher etc. you have to pay $107. Yep. I had to change my timetable due to an external A Level Arabic lesson that I had every week, and they still required me to pay. (Hint: parents have power…a bit sad since they are supposed to treat you like adults already.)
How are the 3 hours utilised? Depends on your teacher. Is it efficiently used? Depends again. The teachers are supposed to give us a 15min-20min break halfway. Some days the time is stuck to, but there were days that we had 45min. You and your classmates often have to make it clear whether you need the teacher back in class on time, otherwise just go with the flow.
Most of the H2 classes have 2 lessons per week, H1 has one. For me, Math and Chem had 2 lessons per week each, GP had 2 lessons per week and Economics had 1 lesson per week. Lessons that fall on holidays won’t be made up, unless your teacher wants to and is granted permission by the admin. Lessons that are cancelled because the teacher is sick will be made up (most of the time).
Timetables are subject to change without prior notice. Time slots and teachers can change. I’d highly recommend to stick to one teacher throughout, unless the change brings you to the better teacher 🙂
Holidays don’t follow the normal school holidays. Well, duh. You have only 10 months to prepare for exams. There is a one week break after most exams, except for prelims.
We had 4 exams scheduled, but only 3 materialised Alhamdulillah. A bit crazy to have an exam every 2 months or so when you barely have enough lessons and you get your results back late. The teachers had requested that our 3rd exam be cancelled due to the lack of time.
Exams are held in the hall/classrooms. Standard wise they are just as horrible as the real A Levels usually.
There’s a mix of local and international students. Most of the international ones are in the 16-month course.
Some students are first-timers, repeats, re-repeats, poly students etc. Varying ages. The youngest in A Levels is usually 18, the oldest I’ve seen is late 20s I think.
Most of the A Level students are too concerned with exams that they aren’t very conscious of each other.
O level kids are usually the more crazy and loud ones.
For A Levels, I really think it’s a personal experience. It’s different for everyone as everyone has different capabilities and needs. But I also believe you need a warmonger of a teacher to help you survive A Levels without getting too burned along the way.
Most teachers are part-time, if I am not wrong. Plus side is that some of these part-timers teach at universities, so having them as your referees could be advantageous during university admissions. Down side is that they may not be able to give you extra time outside of class if you need it.
I had 3 teachers, one for math, one for chem, and one for both econs and gp. Telling you about each of them won’t be very useful since they may not be the ones teaching you. The last time I checked, the teachers for half the subjects changed already. Throughout the year teachers came and went as well.
Alhamdulillah the 3 teachers I had stuck around till the end. So I will just give my praises and constructive criticism as generally as I can.
We had some very sincere teachers who worked hard to give us what we needed in terms of materials, advice, content and skills. Often they had to work against the forces of perhaps the administration in order to keep our best interests in mind. It’s a commercial school, they don’t always know what the students need. Usually the teachers have a better idea and try to relay the message. It had put them in compromising situations before, sometimes the students were dragged into the drama as well.
But Alhamdulillah, we were able to work with some of our teachers to make the best of the given situations. My classmates and I really appreciate and respect the teachers who went the extra mile for us 🙂
Some of our teachers made the effort to hone our skills and give us personalised advice.
I know I was a pain for my teachers. As a first time A Level student, I was scrambling to keep my head above the water, especially for subjects like math and chem, which were the hardest. 10 months is no joke.
My teachers allowed me to meet up with them during their free periods, and even let me crash their other classes to answer my questions. Some patiently responded to 10s of my emails (one of my teachers and I exchanged over 130 emails throughout the 10 months, as he answered all my questions and queries), and some took the time to look through all of my notes to ensure I was on the right track.
I can’t express my gratitude enough for all the help. I am sorry for causing any added stress and irritation, hopefully it was worth it.
Approachable and Caring
Some of our teachers made the effort to get to know us personally, and helped us with our problems whenever they could. A Levels is a horrible, psychological warfare, and some of the teachers cheered us on and shared their own experiences, tips and tricks to help us pull through. They were easy to talk to too.
Some of our teachers were open to suggestions, and they listened to what we had to offer without getting offended.
It would be great if the classroom tools are maximised. Teaching a bunch of restless teenagers efficiently requires the teachers to keep them engaged. For the math and science subjects, I felt that using visuals would have made learning a lot easier, compared to just reading from the book, writing on the board, and even writing in the air. Slideshows, pictures and videos would make a significant difference in teaching and learning.
I know A Levels is time when we have to do a lot of self-studying, but the time spent in class imparting the knowledge can be used more effectively and efficiently by simplifying and solidifying the concepts, even if it means you treat us as if we are stupid. It saves us the time we have to spend going over the content multiple times on our own since in class we couldn’t understand.
Try to be lively. Humour is good, and I think it helps keep the attendance high, as I’ve seen.
Use parables, real life examples or teach us tricks to help us appreciate what we’re learning, especially since the content is daunting, dry and largely meaningless to our lives.
If the 3 hours aren’t going to be used fully, let your students know from before hand so they can be mentally prepared to do some self-study. Some of my classmates travelled long distances to come to school, only to find that staying at home probably would have been just as good since there wasn’t much that was being done in class. This is a very inefficient use of the precious time we have to prepare for exams.
Maybe the teacher could ask his students every once in a while how he could improve. There are always ways to do better. If the student comes with suggestions or concerns, try not to scare them away, or they may just suffer in silence.
Get off the phone, man. Ironic, I thought this is something only teachers would have to tell their students. Try to stay off the phone unless necessary. Even if you don’t mean it, the students will interpret your extensive phone usage as a lack of concern and sincerity.
Get to the point, do you recommend this place?
If you are a first-time A Level student, I would not recommend this course. I can’t speak for the 16-month course much, but from what I heard, they only have 1 lesson per week for each subject, and they too fight for the lab.
If you are an A Level repeat, and the reason why you flunked the first time was due to laziness, then this place would be good for you to sharpen your skills and go for it one more time. Though if you flunked because of serious lack of understanding, you would face similar challenges to that of a first-timer.
It is extremely tiring as a first timer as you have to teach yourself most of the content, chase after your teachers for extra help, and go head-to-head with the admin to demand the extra assistance that you need. It may put you on their blacklist, but hey when your grades and so much money is at stake, you’d do anything to get what you need.
But a teacher said that out of all the private schools, MDIS College is the best. So if you have to go to a private school, this would probably be the best of them.
I Don’t Friend You
I never truly appreciated the value of choosing friends wisely and surrounding yourself with the right people until I had to attend school here.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) said:
“The likeness of a good companion and a bad companion is that of a perfume seller and one who works the bellows. With the perfume seller, either he will give you something or you will buy something from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but with the one who works the bellows, either he will burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.”
~Sahih Muslim #2628.
Having had the doors of the madrasahs closed on me because they wouldn’t or couldn’t allow me with the face veil, I didn’t have much choice as to where to do my A Levels. Though I am truly grateful that they had taken me in without hesitation, I am not all for a Muslim, male or female, enrolling, at least not alone, and only if you have no other choice of a proper environment where people are practising the Deen.
I mean, it is challenging to maintain some of your values and morals, when majority of the people around may not have the same. Peer pressure. For example, the disregard and disrespect for the Creator, the lack of modesty, free-mixing, immoral behaviour, backbiting and slandering do take a toll on you, and you may find yourself unduly compromising and weakening in some things. 😦
If you have to go, I guess it would be good practice and a test for your behaviour and ethics.
I hope this post was of some benefit to you and gave you a clearer picture of what it’s like to be in MDIS College.
If you’re a teacher/administrator of the school, I hope you don’t take my comments negatively, but take it in stride. I believe MDIS College has the potential to be a good alternative school for those of us who wish to pursue our O Levels or A Levels privately. There’s just a little polishing up to do inshaa’Allah 🙂
Feel free to comment and share.