Which University is better? What should I choose? How is life in University like ? These were some of my thoughts prior to my journey in NUS business. After going through a year in University, some of these questions which I had were answered and I hope that I can help clarify the doubts some of you may have regarding University life.
Which university is better?
As an NUS student, my opinion might be biased but I feel that all Universities are similar and the difference lies in ourselves. It’s about being proactive and cherishing the opportunities. I’m sure the other Universities provide similar opportunities as well and it depends on our effort to step out of our comfort zone and cherish them. Ultimately, how much we want to develop ourselves depends on our willingness to go the extra mile. The environment should be considered in deciding the choice of university because it influences our thinking and behavior. Thus, it is imperative to understand yourself better so that you can identify the environment that suits you.
Why NUS ?
I chose NUS because of the NUS overseas college (NOC) program. My interest in entrepreneurship attracted me to the opportunities NUS offers that allows students to intern at an overseas startup. This aligns with my goal to own a startup by the end of the course of my studies. Furthermore, NUS encourages independent ownership of academics whereby we can plan our timetable and allows us to take modules out of our faculty; though it is dependent on bidding.
Sem 1 was not smooth sailing for me. On top of academics, I had to balance my time between hall CCAs, startup interest , part time job, and not forgetting time for family and friends. As I was still new to University life, it was difficult getting everything in place. There were times when I felt overwhelmed, when I felt like giving up, and when I started to doubt on its worth. However, at the end of the day, it’s not about how long we take, it’s about whether we are able to reach the end goal. How much we can achieve depends on how we tackle these barriers. Obstacles are good as they allow us to learn more about ourselves, grow and develop, which leads us to our destination.
Here are the modules that I had for Sem 1 :
- Marketing ( MKT 1003)
- Business Analytics ( DSC 1007 )
- Microeconomics ( BSP 1005)
- Business Communications ( ES 2002 )
- Introduction to Public Speaking ( GEM 2027)
Sem 2 was much better for me in terms of time management. I’m sure it was better for most of us too as we had gotten used to the curriculum. I had the same level of commitments without a part time job and pursued my interest in startups . The difference between Sem 2 and Sem 1 for me was the mods that I took. Sem 2 mods were more writing based ; meaning that there are mid terms and finals which is unlike my Sem 1 which were mostly based on projects.
Sem 2 Mods :
- Financial Accounting (ACC1002)
- Business Law ( BSP 1004)
- Management and Organization ( MNO1001)
- Operations Management ( DSC 2006)
- Introduction to Cybercrime ( GEK 1531)
How is the grading system like?
In my course, grades aren’t solely determined by written papers or examinations, but a collective effort throughout the entire Semester ranging from group work, class participation and examinations. Group work is an interesting aspect as you’ll get to work with people of different skills and background. It’s similar to doing 4-5 Project Work that we had in Junior College and completing them all in 1 Semester. I feel that group mates are really important because whether the project takes flight depends on the collective effort of every group member.
Furthermore, it is an avenue to learn more about myself and about my strengths and weaknesses. Instead of thinking it as a “burden”, we should take this opportunity to understand ourselves better and learn to work with people who are different from us. I believe that every individual has their own work strengths and weaknesses and thus if we understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we can delegate work which matches that. There shouldn’t be an issue producing quality work when every member’s priorities are leveled.
Should we join camps ?
Yes! Camps are a good way to get to know more people. Furthermore, it allows us to step out of our comfort zone. The camps in University are more tiring than those in Junior Colleges. I wouldn’t say the difference is due to the activities but it’s the late night talks and get together that makes it more tiring as we had less rest. It’s uncommon to have this experience when we get older and there’s no harm trying so it would be good for potential freshman to participate in camps with an open mind ! With that said, we should also keep our limits in mind as we wouldn’t want to be involved in any incident that has a detrimental consequence.
How is hall life?
I stayed in Kent Ridge Hall. People often ask me how is Kent Ridge Hall and which hall should they join. I feel that Kent Ridge Hall has a supportive culture with a repertoire of activities and events. Hall residents would help one another when in need and it’s always important to know when to have fun and when to focus back on academics.
Then, to the second question on which hall is better, I feel that each hall has its own culture and it is subjective. Every hall has their own unique culture and whether hall life is enriching depends on the environment and the individual. If we allow ourselves to be more involved in hall and interact with the residents, hall life will be more exciting as compared to an individual who doesn’t. Furthermore, it is quite unfair to judge based on the “old generalization” as every batch is different.
Staying in Hall gave me an action packed life for my first year in University and I don’t regret it. There are a lot of events you’ll be able to participate in ranging from welfare supper, performance nights, hall bash, sports etc. The number of events might get a bit too much at times and my advice would be to participate in events that we want to and not that we are obliged to. This is because by going for things that interest us, it brings us more joy and this energy contributes to the experience of others as well.
Another plus point about living in hall is its supportive community. I am fortunate to have met great friends in hall. After a hectic day, my neighbors and I often hang out together to relieve stress and have fun together. In addition, block mates are also open to conversations with one another and seniors would share their wisdom with the younger ones.
Hall stay for the subsequent academic year is based on the number of points accumulated and points allocation is based on the level of commitment in the CCAs a resident participated in. This issue might influence our decisions in choosing what to join because there is a limit to the amount of points we can get from a CCA and thus “the more we join, the more points we get”.
My take is to join what we like, and what we are interested in. This is because there might be clashes in your academics/ CCAs schedule and this leads to an issue of which to go for. Sometimes, more might not be good as having too many commitments limits the learning potential. I’ve learnt it the hard way and it’s better to join a few than many. By focusing on a few, there is better quality in learning and it allows us to spend more time with the people from each interest club. On the other hand, joining a lot dilutes the quality of our input and prevents us from maximizing our contributions. Furthermore, it reduces the amount of time we can spend with our peers.
I was in 5 CCAs. Basketball, Road Relay, Hall Promotional Board, Business Committee and Block Committee. It looked like I’ve over committed with so many stuff on top of my academics, but it is manageable. However, I do feel that I kind of over committed. Haha. Through this 1 year, I’ve learned much from the CCAs that I’ve joined. From the community CCAs that I participated in, I got to experience organizing camps, canvassing, promotion of the hall, organizing block events, cooking, managing the block funds, planning events to generate profit and many more. On the other side of the coin, in sports, I got to exercise and strived to get a masculine body, which I have yet to achieve but still trying to do so!
My day usually starts at 9am and ends at midnight. I would prepare for lessons/assignments when my day officially ended and also use the snippets of time in between my commitments. Occasionally, my weekends will be mobilized and it can get overwhelming. Thus, to prevent overworking, I would plan my schedule a week in advance! Google calendar is a useful tool which I used to keep my tasks on track. Haha so yes! There’re tradeoffs in our decision on the level of commitment we intend to be involved in but whatever decision we make, we should make the full use of it and never look back ! It was fulfilling 1st year and I’ve learnt much about time management through the balance of my commitments. I had a great time and forged many great friendships along the way !