Kolej Yayasan UEM (KYUEM), or KY as it’s commonly known, is an A Levels boarding college located in Lembah Beringin, Selangor. And yes, specifically for A Levels only. That may be surprising to many because you practically never hear of colleges focusing on one type of course. But, that’s KY! So, as a former KY student, I’ll be breaking KY down into a few aspects: education, the KY community, our university relations department, food, activities/events, and the KY lifestyle.
Two key factors that always drive people to apply to KY are the academic & university admissions track records of the college, which to me can be broken down into three defining aspects: our student-teacher ratio, the competitive academic environment, and our teachers.
A great aspect of KY is our super small student-teacher ratio. Most classes have about 16 to 17 students on average which gives each student great face-time with their teacher, ensuring classes don’t seem like mass lectures. These classes are kept small through our block system in which each student gets a specific block for each class. So, for example, Math is our most subscribed subject, since almost the whole student body takes Math. That said, all the students taking Math are divided into different blocks under different teachers, which ultimately ensures each class keeps to the small student-teacher ratio discussed. In a day, there are 6 blocks in total with each student getting one specific block per subject, leaving students normally free for 2-3 blocks a day (depending on the subjects they do). To me, this is an excellent system to keep students structurally engaged with their subjects on a daily basis.
Now, the competition between students. Academic competition in KY is EXTREMELY HIGH, across all subjects! No joke about that. We have students who cry when they don’t get a 100% for Math (they get 99% instead), we have students in every batch who get Top in Malaysia & Top in the World awards, and we generally just have students who are constantly on top of their academic game for all their subjects. Daunting? Absolutely. But, empowering? Absolutely too. The community is so driven to excel that consciously and subconsciously, you’re motivated to keep pushing harder, to strive to achieve your personal best. That said, I personally wasn’t great academically and therefore, really found KY stressful and overwhelming every day. The pressure can get to you. But, in hindsight, I am grateful that I had my KY experience to help me deconstruct how I study, to help me really challenge myself not just intellectually but in my academic stamina, and above all, to really make sure I actively pursue my dreams with everything I have within me. KY can be an extremely scary place but it can really teach you so much as well (and definitely not just academically).
Finally, teachers. If I’m being honest, not every subject has the best of teachers and even teachers within a faculty can range from excellent to maybe not so. Maybe it’s the naturally competitive spirit of KY that actually fuels the academic achievements of our students, but just as much as some teachers make powerful, important differences in these students’ academic life, others can really be negative factors. I had wonderful teachers for History and Economics (shout-out to Dr Cooke and Puan Zai, if you’re reading this!) and they really were such great influences throughout my two years at KY. But, sadly, not everyone in KY can say that about their teachers. So, frankly if you’re looking for excellent teachers across all subjects, KY may not give you that. But, if you’re willing to take a chance and see which teachers you end up with, trust that beyond just the classroom, there will be amazing batchmates to help you in every subject because if there’s one thing that every student in KY will vouch for, it’s our sense of community.
- The KY Community
Now, coming to probably my most important point of all: KY’s community. The camaraderie we have is sublime. Many of us found family within the community and many of us genuinely believe that the bonds that most of us have with each other will last our entire lives. Not going to lie, sometimes the community is the only reason you stay on in KY, in spite of all struggles. KY gave me some of the best people in my life and that is something I’ll always be grateful for.
This may surprise you but despite the academically competitive nature of KY, the people in KY are genuinely some of the most helpful people you’ll find and linking my first point (education) to this second point now, the community is there to help support you academically, not because they have to but because they want to. No doubt about that.
Also, one reason why our community is as tight-knit as it is is because of our housing system. We have 4 houses in KY – Garnet, Topaz, Diamond and probably the greatest house of them all, Sapphire. Sapphire is truly the greatest! But, ok moving on hehe, this housing system is very much like Hogwarts and you’ll have many activities and bonding events with your house members. Everyone is automatically part of a house and that house spirit will carry on even past your KY days. Evidently. Hehe.
- University Relations Department
So, back to the education side of KY. As mentioned earlier, two big factors that lead people to KY are our academic and UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS track records. *Enter KY’s universally accepted favourite person* PUAN KAS! If you think you know what a gem of a person is, be prepared to see this embodied in Puan Kasthuri Thillaga. Puan Kas is our University Relations head and she guides students in all our applications, be it for the UK, US, Australia, Hong Kong, Netherlands or so on, while also providing course-specific help regardless if you’re applying for medicine or like me, for a humanities course. Puan Kas liases directly with universities as well and if you’re really looking for a great place that equips you in all your applications, KY IS AMAZING FOR THAT. ( If you ever read this, Puan Kas, we love you!)
So, now that we’ve talked about the three most pertinent aspects of KY (education, community, university relations department), let’s go on to food, activities, and the KY lifestyle!
Okay so the most miserable part of KY lol is our food. Our dining hall food is not great. Ok, not great is an understatement but you get my point… I’m not a big foodie so as much as I know the food’s not good, it never really bothers me (unless they serve butter chicken with butter rice and butter vegetables, WHICH THEY HAVE AND AHHH THAT’S ONE MEAL I CAN’T STAND. TOO MUCH RICHNESS). But, I do know the quality of food here does bother many other students.
Which leads me to my next sub-point: our cafe. The cost for dining hall food is included in the fees paid to KY, so no expenses are required on a day-to-day basis. But, we do have a cafe! Where money can be spent on getting other food – nasi goreng, better buffet food, milo dinosaur etc. So, if you really can’t stand our dining hall food, there’s always the cafe if you wanna spend money. Sometimes, some KL/Selangor kids bring food from home on a weekly basis and store them in their mini fridges that are SUPPOSEDLY there for *health purposes lol. Either way, that’s the low-down on KY cuisine.
Activities! Now, contrary to popular misconceptions, KY ISN’T A PLACE WHERE YOU ONLY STUDY 24/7. I mean, yes, it can be that place if you want it to be. But, we have tonnes of sports and societies to be a part of, with tonnes of house activities, competitions, events, and performances to be involved in. Students can be seen having sports time every evening after classes, all non-competitive. But, if you want to be part of competition teams for certain sports like football, rugby, touch rugby, badminton, or Ultimate Frisbee, you can as well! As for events, we have loads of college events scattered throughout the semesters and these truly end up being huge highlights of our time there. From Hari Raya & CNY celebrations to Diwali Night, from Bangsawan/Boria competitions to Sports Carnival/Health Awareness Week and finally, to our End-of-Semester dinners, you have so many fun experiences to look forward to! And a big point to note of: nothing is compulsory. Everything is your choice, so it’s completely up to you to tailor your life according to what you want to be involved in!
- The KY Lifestyle
And finally, to conclude, the KY lifestyle. Three important facts to remember: boarding college, away from the city, lack of access to public transport. As a city girl, I LOVED the KY life. It was refreshing and invigorating and it brought me to a whole different side of the world. And I truly, truly loved boarding life. No joke! KY was my first boarding experience and I’m so glad I had that. That said, it is quite hard to get out of KY if you need to. Our closest access to public transport is the Tanjung Malim KTM station which you’d normally have to book a taxi to get to, since KY is in Lembah Beringin (an area beside Tanjung Malim). The college does provide frequent trips to KL malls which you can sign up for and some students even rent cars from some car dealers in Tanjung Malim for certain daytime lepak sessions. But, yes, if you’re a person who wouldn’t like being cooped up on campus grounds all the time and if you’re from far states, the seclusion of KY can be hard, especially on weekends when students are normally left to themselves. But, remember what I said about the KY community. There will always be people for you to spend time with over the weekends and in fact, given how hectic our weekday schedules are, sometimes you do need quiet weekends to just chill and bond with friends. To me, the KY lifestyle is unique if you’re up to an independently structured life, away from the regularity you have.
All in all, with all the above aspects considered, KY was one of the greatest experiences I ever had in my life. Hands down. And yes, it can be an extremely overwhelming place with so much pressure, not just externally but from within you as well. But, it’s a place that shapes you. It’s a place that assists you in achieving your dreams and above all, becomes a place where you can work towards being the best version of yourself, if you can see the beauty in the KY experience. So, if you’re worried about coming to KY, know that we all felt the same way. But, you will learn from your KY experience and you will thrive in your own special ways because KY makes you see parts of yourself you may never have before.
And, remember my most important point. Point No 2. The KY community. You’ll find a family here. And the people you’ll meet here will be some of the greatest blessings you’ll ever have in your life.
Abbernaa Dhevi Kukananthan is currently reading Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at the University of Cambridge. The number 5 is her least favourite single digit because it’s a centrist number!!! Her favourite numbers are 6,7, and 8. (She promises that it doesn’t say anything about her political leanings…)
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