Methodist College Kuala Lumpur. I’d never even heard of it until my next door neighbour attended college there in 2012-13 while I was in the last two years of my secondary school. Looking back, I have no idea why I so confidently decided to do my A-Level at MCKL. The minute I heard about the college and talked to my neighbour about it ONE TIME, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to go there, which is really strange, seeing as there were so many places in Penang to do my A-Levels (YAS, Penang lang here!). It’s not as if I fell in love with it or anything mystical and fanciful like that. There was just a sort of resolution in mind. “Yep, MCKL, I’m going there.” Though I suppose if I was forced to come up with reasons as to why I was so sold on the idea, I’d say the scholarships and Christian environment were what appealed to me most.
So there I was, completing an application online to a college I’d never set foot in. This very helpful chap from the Admissions and Counselling Department helped me through the process, as we emailed back and forth.
One really coolbeans fact about MCKL is that they offer loads of scholarships. I was applying for the 100% tuition fee scholarship which required I get 8As for my SPM*. The best part was, I could secure the scholarship using my forecast results, and later, even if my actual results were poorer than my forecast, I wouldn’t lose the scholarship. Another great thing about MCKL scholarships is that the CGPA for maintaining the scholarships isn’t too insanely high. For the 100%, I was required to maintain a CGPA of 3.2. And finally, the scholarships are not limited to a select few! Almost everyone in MCKL comes in with a scholarship of some form. As long as you apply early enough, and you have the required results, MCKL gladly provides you with a scholarship!
When the time came to go to this mysterious MCKL, I felt very homesick during the first weekend. It was before my college orientation, and I was all alone in KL. My housemates hadn’t yet moved in and I knew no one in MCKL (my neighbour had just graduated from AUSMAT the semester before). But after that one weekend, college started, and it was a whirlwind of meeting new people, joining too many clubs, absorbing all these new subjects (I took Math, English Literature, Psychology and Law), taking part in community projects and basically having a crazy, good time!
Generally, MCKL is known by outsiders as the goody-two-shoes college for nerds. We clearly resent that and yet there is a grain of truth in that caricature. As a college founded on Christian values, MCKL does regulate rules a bit more strictly than most colleges. There is a dress code that we must adhere to, but frankly I think all of us love the upside of how we don’t feel pressured to dress up to go to college. It’s not unusual to see people in sweatpants, baggy t-shirts and messy buns. This might not be for everyone, but for me, an 18 year old girl who had no idea how to put on a dot of makeup, this suited me perfectly!
Extracurricular-wise, MCKL has a pretty wide range of clubs and activities. In my first semester, I very wisely (ha ha) joined the Music Club, Debate Club, Model United Nations Club, Latin Dance Society, Pre-U Society and the Christian Fellowship (CF). Along with that, I had to complete a Service Learning project, in which my group chose to raise awareness about modern day slavery. (Through this project, I gained the friends that would stick with me throughout the one and a half years of A-Levels. There’s really something about understanding the human struggle that made us stick together!) In my second and third semester, I cut down on my activities and chose to focus on serving in the CF, where there were tons of opportunities to get involved. In MCKL, most students go through the same process of being spread very thin in the first semester, and then focusing on one or two clubs in their remaining semesters. In my opinion, it’s quite logical, as then you’ll know, having had a try, what you really want to invest your time in.
Another extracurricular activity that really impacted me was the running of the Orientation Camps! Every student has to attend a camp in their first semester and this is the time where students really get to know their classmates and also people from other programmes. As campers, obviously the camp was thoroughly enjoyable and memorable. However, the great thing about the running of these camps is that they didn’t stop at the end of our Orientation Camp (OC). We got the chance to apply to become facilitators in the OC for the next intake. With that came the responsibility of planning the entire camp with 11 other students. After being a facilitator at camp, learning so many fundamental things, I became a historian during the next cycle of camps, eager to learn more. The student services staff of MCKL gave their best during those camps to make sure that we didn’t leave without learning something, but ultimately, whether we learnt or not was up to us. Even after I’d graduated, I returned to OC as the lead coordinator, to try and impart some of what I’d learnt to a new batch of facilitators, but at the same time, I myself learnt how to allow them to make their own mistakes. These OCs played a large part in what I took back from my time in college . (This can be seen by how long the paragraph is when I meant to only write two sentences about it! Hehe)
With all the fun and challenges of everything else, my studies also must be spoken of! I had the blessing of having a number of dedicated lecturers, both young and old. I cannot speak for the entire academic programme, ‘cos I really think it depends on your lecturer as well as the amount of work you put in, but I can say that the academic side of things was never a cause of real concern for me. This doesn’t mean I got straight As all the time-far from it-but I never had a real worry about it. We had monthly tests for every subject, so that kept us from falling behind. And we also had very challenging trial papers which drove us to glue ourselves to our books and past year papers during the time leading up to the actual exams.
One thing I was amazed by at MCKL was the willingness of the lecturers to go out of their way to help students. It is perfectly normal to walk around MCKL and see lecturers helping students in their free time, going through the curriculum, running extra classes, and sometimes just buying them an ice cream or a drink to catch up with them and make sure they’re coping okay. Their humble service was an encouragement to me, personally, as it was at MCKL that I decided to pursue English and Education so I could help as they did. Also, the university placement staff were very effective at helping us students get our act together and apply for university. Without their constant pushing and encouraging, I doubt so many MCKL graduates would have ended up at all the top universities that they have.
One final thing I must share was what it was like living in the college-provided accommodation with the other students from outstation. I was blessed with great housemates and roommates (I had a total of 22 housemates over the span of my 1.5+ years there. This is an unusually high number!) who taught me a lot about living together and bearing with one another’s good times and bad habits! There were obviously squabbles and fights along the way, and way too much crying in bathrooms together (maybe not so much for teenage boys lah!), but I’d say we all grew stronger because of it. There was also the amazing feeling of being a part of a larger community of accommodation students , taken care of by our amazing wardens, who looked out for our physical and also emotional needs. If you’re afraid of leaving home, don’t be. Some things will never be fully appreciated until you leave (*cough* Char Kuey Teow *cough*).
From start to finish, my time at MCKL was incredibly fun and meaningful. I made many friends, in both fellow students and staff. I learnt so many new things and I’m still trying to improve myself daily from what I’ve learnt. By God’s grace, I also managed to get A-Level results that enabled me to receive an unconditional offer from the university of my choice. Clearly, I cannot guarantee that you will love MCKL as much as I sincerely do. The idea of this kind of college might not appeal to you in the least, and that’s fine! But if you’re interested in a not-so-huge college, where you can learn both inside and outside of the classroom, supported by a truckload of people, consider MCKL. There’s hardly a better feeling than belonging to the small community, where you might not know everybody, yet
you immediately grin at that ‘stranger’ wearing the MCKL shirt, and you feel like you’re coming home every time the train pulls into KL Sentral and even after you leave, these three simple words can still put a nostalgic smile on your face,
Veritas Vincit Omnia
Truth Conquers All
*The requirements change rather regularly, so do check the website for the latest info!
Catherine Bakewell is a 19 year old, half-English, half-Peranakan, ‘hybrid’. She is enjoying her gap year, teaching English and gaining extreme patience from waitressing! She did her A-level in Methodist College Kuala Lumpur and loved it so much that she stayed on for 3 months to intern in their Marketing Department. Promoting MCKL proved to unite both her love for MCKL and her gift of the gab 😛