University journey #1

I posted on my ask.fm that I am enrolling in UB-SIM (University at Buffalo), and I will hopefully be studying a double major in sociology and communications, both which I am extremely interested in. I’ll be starting school on 29 August, which is coming up soon and I’m actually rather looking forward to it. After I graduate from UB-SIM, I will receive a degree from UB, not SIM. So in my opinion, I do not lose out at all compared to the local graduates.

My decision to enter a Private Education Institution (PEI) was a tough one to make and I definitely did not decide on that as I was taking my ‘A’ level exams.

Entering a junior college (JC), the clear goal was to enter a local university and eventually graduate with a degree that is recognised. My personal aim was to enter SMU to study social sciences but unfortunately, I did not make the cut. So after submitting my application to SMU, I deliberated for awhile more before I also filled in my application to SIM global because I’m not entirely certain that I would be able to get in to SMU, given that they only enrol about 200-odd freshmen per year.

I applied in late May, and the replies were only sent out in mid-July. I basically just received the reply and I’ve come to realise that all the university stuff is so overwhelming. Everything is now done on the Internet, which means that I have to constantly check my email to see if there are any new updates and things like that.

The purpose of this post is to attempt to diminish the mindset that private universities are slightly inferior compared to the local unis which in fact, is not true. Someone told me that whatever you achieve in the future depends not on your education, but on your work capabilities. Right now, it may sound patronising, but when you think about it rationally, it is very true – you may need to put in more time and effort to reach your goal but ultimately, you will get there. But nowadays many companies do not discriminate against degrees anymore, so our generation is really lucky, in that sense.
Here are the things that I looked into while I was deciding which school to apply to.
1) School fees
School fees are definitely a big issue when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to apply to a university. As a Singaporean, there are definitely benefits. If we choose to enter a local polytechnic or a local university, we will be able to pay our school fees via our parents’ CPF, which is a compulsory savings account set aside for us by the government. Details can be found here.
But if you are enrolling in a PEI, payment of school fees cannot be done via CPF. There are also no tuition grants and loans from the school. So do take note that you will have to pay the school fees either via a bank loan or your parents’ income/savings.
In SIM, the school fees vary according to which institution you are from. Since UB is an American institution, the system is very much like SMU – the amount of school fees that I have to pay is dependent on the number of credits I will be taking. As an ‘A’ level student, I get credit exemptions based on the subjects I have studied. If you are a polytechnic student, it is very likely that you will get more credit exemptions than an ‘A’ level student. About a week or two after you receive your acceptance email, you will receive the email to tell you the number of credits you have to study, so don’t worry too much about that as you are applying.
2) Future prospects
This applies for any university and course that you are applying for. In any case, you will want to make sure that you will have a job in the future. So, when researching on the course that you want to study, know what you can do in the future. It will be toxic for you if you were to go into society and only then finding out that the job prospects available to you are ones that you dislike or never imagined yourself doing.
3) Notable alumni (reputation)
If you are entering a local university, you wouldn’t need to go through this step because everyone knows for sure that local uni graduates will surely secure a job. But if you are thinking of enrolling in a PEI, you need to know the background of the institution and the people who graduated from there. It is also a way for you to boost your own confidence, knowing that you can be as great as these people who graduated from that institution, whether they are your own seniors, or somebody who is known worldwide.
I’m not sure what other things people look at when they are choosing a university, but these were the three most important things I looked for before deciding on UB.
At first, it will be difficult to admit that you are heading to a PEI because all your friends will be talking about getting acceptance to NUS, NTU and SMU while you’re sat thinking, wouldn’t it all be better if you had just worked harder a few months back. But time doesn’t rewind and it is inevitable that your friends will ask you about your acceptance to a university, and you’d have to answer with zeal that you’re heading to SIM. It is a phase, you will get over it after a few times of saying it to different people and after awhile, you’ll be alright. Trust me, I went through the same thing and I have this to tell you: it is not about your pride and your ego, it is the education that you will get for yourself and you will definitely not regret pursuing university education. So go for it, don’t be too afraid to take the leap of faith and just disregard the people who look down on you. Chin up, darling.
If you have anything to ask, my social media, particularly ask.fm is always available. Don’t fret, stranger 🙂
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