[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, April 18, 2009

[Beyond the facade of SMU]
While walking to City Hall after visiting the Singapore Art Museum yesterday, I walked past the elaborate SMU Admissions campaign advertisements. I marvelled at the glossy photos that screamed "A Different U". Well any business law student would reckon that its a mere puff. But instead of that thought, why not look further than that facade?

I was initially asked to blog for the official SMU blog, but somehow the further negotiations never took place. And the blogging stint never did materialise. I would have expected it since I head one of the university's most controversial publications which would cause the messaging of the advertising campaign to crumble if I did end up blogging there.

Well how time flies. I am now at the end of my third year in SMU and I feel is a great time to share my thoughts about my SMU experience. And what I am going to say may not very nice to hear, but I will say it nonetheless.

Life in SMU is really tough. I must admit, SMU students can be branded as superheroes. We have to juggle countless projects, group meetings, CCA, community service and the list goes on. So if you want to come to SMU, be prepared for the workload.

Once, a prospective student asked me about the workload. My reply to him was that it is how you manage your time that is important. For me, I am blessed because I plan my time well by taking note of deadlines and assigning my time according to my priorities. It is increasingly tougher for me as I am also involved in a lot of out-of-school activities like grassroots and major events. That sometimes takes up a bulk of my time.

The SMU curriculum is not about being exam smart. I believe that SMU is different because the weightage of a module is spread out across several components. So one not only needs to be able to score at the exams. The SMU student has to speak up, be heard and articulate his/her thoughts well. There is also the role of managing people which is crucial. For projects in SMU, group members are sometimes randomly assigned, and as luck would have it, you either work with someone who's a high-flyer or a slacker who doesn't know how to even do citations properly. A group member could either make or break the outcome of a project. And you have to deal with it because that's what it is in life too.

How different is SMU then? Honestly, that image about SMU being different is akin to the fluff some students spin in their presentations. SMU students are go-getters. They go all out for the grades and not only that. SMU students, through their involvement in this, that and the other, build their contacts with the outside world. And when they graduate, the have the edge over others.

But that said, not all SMU students are like that. On the whole, these are the broad strokes. But one has to look further than that. Some employers say that SMU students are all talk and no action. I think we have to look at the context of the statement and not engage in a stereotype mentality. Of course I have met some like that but there are also the quiet ones as well. That surprised me too.

In essence, while the school environment cultivates the way students behave, the individual matters too.

For incoming Social Science students, here's one word of advice for the interviews: Share your opinion but back it up with facts. An important knowledge of current affairs is extremely important. Be prepared, don't be caught off-guard.

And for those who have been admitted, good luck. Here's a tip on how to get that A+. I haven't really tried it out yet, neither have a scored an A+ yet. Not yet, since this video guide was just released.

All the best while I look forward to a happy graduation.


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