Saturday, 9 July 2016

Alumni Association Fees Galore

The kaypoh in me acts up again.

I woke up yesterday morning thinking about the alumni association fees and the privilege they give to those who pay ie. priority at Primary One Registration Exercise at an earlier phase.

I used to cringe when the uninitiated refer to those who don't pay the fees to as 'old boy or old girl' while those who do are the ones acknowledged as 'alumni' but I gradually accepted that these people do not know the definition of 'alumni'.

For those who are unsure, 'alumni' is the plural form of 'alumnus' which is defined as 'someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university'. (

An alumni association usually requires potential members to make a one-time payment of a fee and different associations charge differently and call the fees by different names. Some call it 'lifetime membership', others call it 'associate membership' and yet others call it 'ordinary membership'. A rose by any other name is still a rose. Whatever name they call it, it was a fee members pay to get a higher priority at Primary One Registration Exercise. 

Some associations also have different types of memberships to cater to different age groups or different levels of interest. Some alumni genuinely want to be a part of the school for sentimental reasons so they pay a nominal fee (usually less than $50) for once or on an annual basis to be a member so that they get updates of activities and events held by the school or alumni association, but the only type of membership that gives priority to the members for Primary One Registration is the most expensive one and that is the one I am more interested in. 

Some associations charge a flat membership fee while others charge a separate, compulsory entrance fee or subscription fee on top of the membership fee, which I am inclined to combine as one for easy reference. Those with entrance or subscription fee usually have a $10, $20 or even $50 added to them.

Anyway, my first thought was "How much is the alumni association fee of other schools?" so I set my fingers to work and this is what I found: 

$300 - $1000

$20 - $200

A few observations as I collected my data:

- Some schools do have registrants at Phase 2A1 but the information for the fees are not readily available on the Internet. Examples of these schools are: South View Primary, Hong Wen Primary, The Brothers of the Christian Schools (St Joseph Institution, St Stephen's School and De La Salle School) and St Margaret's Primary.

- Surprisingly, a 'good' school like Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary does not have an alumni association while others such as Princess Elizabeth Primary and Choa Chu Kang Primary are in the process of building up their alumni base or yet to register for an alumni association.

- Other schools such as Temasek Primary and Holy Innocent's Primary have an alumni association but fees are not mentioned.

As we can see from the tables, the fees charged by different alumni associations can be as extreme as the opposite ends of the spectrum, with Nanyang Primary being the highest and Haig Girls' School being the lowest. 

The highly sought-after schools generally fall into the $500 range while other popular schools are in the $300 range.

Most people will not bat an eyelid forking out $300 or $500 for popular schools but $1000 may not be something every peasant is willing to pay. Yet I suspect if $1000 can guarantee a place at Nanyang Primary, even the average-income parents would pay this amount. The alumni association of Nanyang must have assessed the profiles of the parents in the school and decided that the amount is peanuts to most of them.

Now that the 40-seat policy has set in and alumni in Phase 2A2 are the immediate casualties of the policy, I would deem that it is worth the monies to 'upgrade' yourself to Phase 2A1 to save you the stress and feelings of uncertainty at Primary One Registration. 

Given my P1 registration experience two years ago, I absolutely advise alumni of popular schools to increase your chance of getting a place at the school of your choice by paying the fee. The stress at Phase 2A2 is not worth the money saved. 

I foresee that in the years to come, more and more alumni will join the associations and Phase 2A2 will cease to exist in some highly popular schools, with balloting necessary at 2A1. St Nicholas Girls' was the trailblazer of this phenomenon last year. 

This year, I foresee that there will be a few schools that will conduct the balloting exercise for 2A2 applicants: Nanyang Primary, ACS, Henry Park, St Nicholas Girls' and Catholic High.

P1 registration is already a stressful exercise. Balloting is definitely not for the faint-hearted. I would imagine these parents beating themselves up for not joining the alumni association. 

No comments: