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45 Questions with Alex, Singapore (SMU)

OSAU Angel

Meet Alex. A current student at Singapore Management University (SMU), who is in his 4th year of Bachelor's studies in business management. Prior to entering SMU, he graduated from National Junior College. And he is a local student from Singapore.

- Specifics -  

1. What school do you study in?  Singapore Management University (SMU)

2. Do you/others have a nickname for the school?  NIL

3. Why did you choose this school? It’s in the heart of the city and there are a lot of MRT* stations nearby so it’s really convenient. (*Mass Rapid Transport, or Subway). 


- Scene - (Questions that give hints of the school culture)

4. What is a scene that you often see in the school? A lot of stuff goes on at campus green and there are a lot of events, arts events etc. Last time there were a lot of things happening underground at the T-junction but school is now trying to bring it up to the ground level. Our school Gym has an open concept with floor to ceiling windows so you can take a look how busy it is usually. 


5. What is one thing that you wish you knew before enrollment? In terms of academics, I wish I knew all the options that SMU has. Only after enrollment did I know that there are actually more options than I thought; some of the options were not so well advertised. Some are happy surprises though I wish I knew before my enrollment. 

6. Your school is great, but if you could change one thing, what would it be? Change the competitiveness. 

7.  And if there’s one thing you’d never change?  Can't think of any.

8. The unofficial uniform of your school is? None that I observe.  But many wear their sports jersey. Though I must say that students at SMU dress much better than the other universities and quite diversely. 

9. When you meet a new friend for the first time and you have to describe your school with one word, what would it be? Amazing

10. What is one place in the school that you are proud of? SMU Labs. These are located in a 24/7 study building and there are a lot of facilities inside for students to rest, study, have meetings for group projects etc. Interior was recently revamped so it’s pretty cool now. We have a foozeball table that’s 2 meters long, a resting/chill room and even a few rooms that look like Airbnb rooms for students to rest and study overnight. Whenever there are new exchange students, I will bring them here. 

11. If you could swap programs for a day, what would it be? Information systems. Students from IS are damn cool, I always wanted to learn how to code but I am not super good at computers and I’m not a tech geek but it’d be cool if I could try for a day. Also, their community is very close knitted as it is relatively small, plus there’s no bell curve, so it’s not as competitive. 

P.S. Accountancy and IS program do not have bell curve, (see I didn’t know about this before enrolment)

12. What is a common myth of your school? That it’s damn party. Although we play hard but we work even harder. Also, I think it’s good that there’s no hall culture here. It's something that fresh grads don’t like but if you think about it it’s actually good because there’s now a clearer divide between life and school. Students from universities with hall culture usually stay up till super late to do projects since they stay in school and I don’t think that’s good. 

13. If you ever had to stay in school past 9pm, what would it be because? Projects. 

14. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in the school? There was once a couple canoodling at campus green. Making out. In the open. So much so that people started videoing and spreading online. 

15. What is your one guilty pleasure you indulge in in school? Sneaking my non SMU friends into the library and labs.  

16. If you were given $5 million dollars to revamp the school, what would you do with it? We should have like :

  1. Proper sports facilities, track, soccer field etc. 
  2. Open up a new faculty for business with emphasis on design and arts
  3. Create an underground linkway to labs and law school, as most of the school is connected except that part.

17. In between classes, where can we find you? Library 


- Tips -  (Info for future students)

18. What is the best place to be as one with your laptop and lecture recordings? Labs and library. 

19. In the occasion that the school has to downsize till only ONE food place remains, what will it be? Tea party at School of Economics

20. For free electricity in the school, where would you go to? Everywhere.


- Programs & Electives - 

21. What program are you in?   Bachelor in Business Management

22. Is this related to your dream job? No. I actually want to be an industrial designer but practicality wins so I took up this program. Also, I didn’t know my options back then. 

23. Do you know the actual value of your degree? $5.7k per semester. School fees are expensive, most expensive out of all the public universities in Singapore, considering with no hall life. In addition, school fees increase every academic year.

However, I must say that facilities here at SMU are amazing so it’s really worth it in a way, especially with the SMU labs, 24 hour facilities etc. So I would say that the price is justifiable just that prospective students have to think this through and be prepared to pay, as well as know all the financial assistance available. 

24. Do you think a degree in your course is cost efficient in terms of the quality of education you are receiving versus what you are paying? Yes. 

25. In your opinion, how much should a degree in your program cost? $1000, per semester. Free is best. In Europe it’s free. Why can’t it be free here? Almost everyone in the developed world has a degree now so it makes no difference whether one has an undergraduate degree or not. That’s why it should be free or heavily subsidized. From Masters education onwards, students can choose to pay for it to further their education. But I think at undergraduate level, it should be cheap for all to afford. 

26. What is the most unforgettable module you have taken? I think the ones where the project groups were super good or super bad. Those were memorable. Classes are more or less the same and professors are generally good at what they do so it’s really the project group that makes or breaks one’s experience for each module. 

27. If you could be exempted from any module in your program, what would it be? Financial Accounting and Management Accounting. 

28.What advice would you give to future students about module selection and planning? Research and talk to seniors or friends and friends of friends, to find out about the module properly and in detail. 

29. If you had to choose one, would you advise a Singapore Junior College (JC)  or Polytechnic (poly) student to join your program? Poly student. Both are ok but poly students have an advantage at the start because JC students don’t do much project work in JC. Poly students, on the other hand, are experienced in balancing projects and exams. Pedagogy at SMU is not much different for poly kids but it’s a culture shock for jc kids. Intensity of projects in SMU is much more than at a polytechnic.  And JC students have never been exposed. Every single module in SMU has presentations and project work even if it’s just a language course. 

30. In what scenarios will any student be exempted from any modules? In the beginning, if you’re from JC, you can be exempted from Economics if you got an ‘A’ for H1 Economics or a ‘C’ and above for H2 Economics. If you took science/arts then you’re exempted from 1 GE Science/Arts module. Additional English course in first year can be exempted for those who did well for English proficiency test during interview.

31. Theory vs. Practical. In what ratio would you say your program content is?  1:1

32. On a scale of 1 – 10, how employable do you think students from your program are?  7-8

33. Name 3 job fields people from your program go into. Banking, Marketing, Startups and Consultancy. 

34. Favorite Professor? Management Consulting Prof. Sumathi. And Prof. Sean Koh who teaches design thinking. He’s also the one who started the course. He advocates for design thinking and I think it’s an amazing concept that all businesses should have. 

35. What is one thing that most people don’t know about your program? Class participation is very insane. Introverts may find it very hard to adapt. Esp in Business School.

36. Ideal tutorial class size versus reality? Seminar classes only and each class has max 40-45 students (usually 40 locals and 5 exchange students +/-). I think an ideal class would be a mix of students from different faculties so there are opportunities to meet new people. 

37. Given a chance to go on exchange, which country would you choose? I went to Lisbon, Portugal because of the relatively low cost of living. SMU collaborates with many business schools in the world and in terms of standards of the partner schools, they are more or less the same. I love Lisbon for the culture and the people there are really nice. Best beaches too!

38. Common exam formats include: Many components: 2 quizzes, group assignments and final exam (usually 30-40%). Math-based exams include calculations and MCQ, etc. For the rest, the components are mostly MCQ, one open-ended question or case studies and essays. It really depends on what the professor likes. 


- Extra-Curriculum & Other Schools Activities - 

39. Outside of the curriculum, do you have any other commitments in school? Used to be from SMU sports club.

40. Would you say that it is difficult to manage both studies and other school activities? Difficult. I admire people who do internship part-time and full-time school at the same time. I personally cannot do that. When I was in the EXCO term in the club, my studies took a hit. 

41. In your opinion, are there enough clubs & societies in school for students to choose from? Not really. There could be more but because of the constraints, it’s hard. 

42. How do you think a Extra-Curriculum Activity add value to a student's overall experience? If you join the club, you are exposed to leadership opportunities. SMU tries not to allow clubs to just be clubs. Experiences are very holistic and you don’t just do the sport. If you want to get the sports excellence award, you will need the CIP component and alumni relations component as well as corporate networking component. It’s really more than just a sports club. 

43. The most memorable school event that you have attended would be:  Starry starry night 

44. If you had to pay to NOT attend a particular event in school, what will it be? None.

45. Is the school doing enough to engage students? Yes. Every semester, we will have a course feedback. In return for doing the feedback, the school gives e-dollars for us to bid for our modules. There was one time I was really frustrated with this professor and I just listed all my complaints out in the survey. Sometime after the survey, the professor allocated time to discuss with the class about the feedbacks in order to improve the items highlighted in the surveys. So usually after the feedback session, there would be a change that we observe. 



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