The secondary school-university disconnect: experience in Malaysia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


As developing countries are gearing up to expand their post-secondary education, it is important to ensure their secondary education system is effective in preparing students to further their studies at the post-secondary level. Specifically for university studies, secondary school students need to acquire the basic content knowledge, skills and habits of mind that are necessary to cope with higher level learning. However, not all secondary school graduates are university-ready. Statistics in the United States show that only a quarter of the ACT-tested students met the university readiness benchmarks in the all four subjects comprising reading, mathematics, English and science. This statistic shows that the majority of university students were not academically ready when they joined the university. Academic preparedness is only a part of university readiness. In addition, there are other social and study skills and other psychological preparation crucial in students’ academic success and personal development at university. To explore what skills and mindsets are instrumental in students’ smooth transition to university in Malaysia, we conducted seven focus group discussions. We talked to 35 students from two private universities and asked them about their first year experience. Our findings indicate that time management skills, social skills, independent learning skills, and positive psychological capital are the major skills and mindsets that help student transition to university life and learning. Our findings have implications for the curriculum development of schools and the first year programs of higher education institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventGlobal Access to Post-secondary Education Conference 2015 - Sunway University, Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Duration: 5 Oct 20158 Oct 2015


ConferenceGlobal Access to Post-secondary Education Conference 2015
Abbreviated titleGAPS 2015
CitySubang Jaya


  • first-year experience
  • Higher Education
  • Study skills

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