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SMU – A More Engaging Experience At SMU

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Zoe Chen tried out SMU’s ­weekend classes ­before she ­decided to enrol in the ­university.

Using my JC1 results I applied for SMU’s ­Advanced Placement Programme and had the chance to try out what SMU has been ­claiming as their unique pedagogy. Just weeks after my ­A-level exams, I attended the free classes held every Saturday morning to do one module.

After attending classes for a few months, I found the seminar-style learning more ­enjoyable and engaging due to its smaller class size. It ­encourages more interaction and discussion. When I was in JC, there was a lack of ­engagement and interaction between the teacher and ­students.  SMU’s unique learning environment was the deal sealer for me. ­Furthermore, the ­location and ­facilities that SMU has to offer were also big ­incentives.

I chose to do Accounting and Business ­Management as the courses were very broad and I would have the ­opportunity to explore various ­areas before ­deciding on my narrower career path.

Lee Kong Chian Scholars’ Programme
During my rough stint at SMU I was ­introduced to the Lee Kong Chian Scholars’ ­Programme. One of the Teaching Assistants (who was also under the LKCSP) organised a small ­networking session with other scholars to help us better understand the programme through a student’s perspective.

The scholarship allowed me to know many fellow scholars through the programme and helped form strong friendships. The LKCSP is awarded to 50 scholars in each year, with activities beginning even before the term starts, as the new scholars have to organise a ­congratulatory dinner for their parents and themselves. There is also an orientation camp just for LKCSP scholars. Such ­activities help the freshmen make friends and ease into university life more smoothly. ­Furthermore ­throughout the four years in SMU,
we have ­several ­activities planned for us such as ­overseas ­community trips, ­business study ­missions and ­networking ­sessions. On top of the rich ­experiences gained, strong bonds are readily formed among the scholars through the shared ­purpose and ­opportunities for ­interaction. My best friends in school are the ones I got to know through ­LKCSP, and I’m really grateful that we were brought together through this scholarship.

Taking a double-degree ­­­combination may seem very taxing. However, Accountancy and Business Management are very complementary areas. I ­personally find the Accounting modules more challenging, as I need to spend a lot more time revising and ensuring that I understand the concepts taught. Planning is the key to managing the workload, having to balance out the heavier ­Accounting ­modules with less ­taxing Business ­modules.

Studying at the university level is very different from ­junior college as most ­subjects are ­application-based. We are taught the ­concepts and we have to learn to apply the concepts in various situations. When I first entered ­university, I was still ­reliant on rote learning and found it hard to grasp the concepts taught in class. I ­overcame this problem over time by ­training myself not to ­memorise ­everything but to really understand what is being taught. Study sessions with my friends also helped as discussions ­solidify our ­understanding of the concepts. My professors are also very helpful as they made themselves available for us to ­consult when we require.

Personally I take some time to warm up to people, so initially I found it awkward or difficult to talk in class. I was afraid of saying something stupid or asking a bad question. However, over time I realised that communication in class is important as it enables the students and professors to learn from one another and verbalisation is itself a learning process.

A highlight of my university life was my participation in the 8th Arts & Cultural Fraternity (ACF) Management Committee. I got to know about ACF through the ­annual Arts Camp for freshmen where I was a group facilitator. I ran for elections at the end of Year 1, and was successfully ­elected into the committee at the beginning of 2012. It was an ­amazing experience, ­working with a group of ­like-minded ­people to help further the arts scene in SMU. We worked closely with the clubs to plan events, ­ensure proper ­governance and provide welfare for all ACF club ­members through ­surprise giveaways and exam welfare drives. As the Honorary ­General Secretary of ACF, I had the ­opportunity to interact with many ­talented and ­passionate ­individuals from the ­various arts and cultural clubs in SMU and they really inspired me with their ­passion and drive for their craft. By taking on a higher level of ­responsibility, I learnt that ­improvements could be made through small steps.

My advice to aspiring LKCSP ­scholars is to be bold and daring in life! While it may be hard to step out of your comfort zone, I would really like to ­encourage you to keep challenging ­yourself, as it is the tough times that cultivate a person. You should also always pursue your dreams. With hard work and passion, you can achieve ­anything you set out to do! And if you have the opportunity, do come join the LKCSP family!

ZOE CHEN WEI
Lee Kong Chian Scholar’s Programme
Age: 21
Now: Third year doing a double degree
in Accountancy and Business Management at SMU
From: Anglo-Chinese Junior College