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Breaking My Silence: My Regrets as a Graduating Student

Graduation is a big milestone in our lives and, after almost 4 years, it’s time for me to wear the gown and receive a piece of paper for me to make money.

I sometimes wonder: have I achieved that university life I had hoped for in my JC days? To some extent, yes. I learnt programming, learnt some other fancy tech stuff, and I got to be part of an amazing group of friends and clubs like I’ve always dreamt of.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20; regrets were made along the way and I hope you could learn a thing or two from my decisions.

Club life is life

SMU has SO MANY CLUBS. Not only do each have their own specialty, but they can help you expand your network, polish your professional development and maybe even open doors to places you never expected.

Take my first club, Ardiente for example, where I had opportunities to go for national competitions and even Chingay in 2023!

Sadly, I didn’t consider joining other clubs that could have helped me with my professional development, which I only became interested in in my senior years (COVID-19 may have affected my choices in my junior years, but it was only one of the reasons and not a strong driver).

Some clubs (such as business-oriented or consulting clubs) may require you to join in year 1 or 2, while others may not allow you to continue participating as an alumni.

The variety of clubs should not be taken for granted and I highly recommend freshies to at least join one that caters to your needs. Are you looking for one to build connections with people that have similar interests or career growth? Try looking in the Academic Clubs! What about something related to culture or society? SMU ICONS has got you covered! Want to do arts or dance with friends? ACF has a plethora of arts and media clubs to choose from!

Even if you missed the previous Vivace in August, you can always check out their instagram for the full list of clubs to join!

(with that said, come join TBNG as a journalist too heh)

Learn more through hidden holy grails of free courses

Here’s another thing that I didn’t know until Y3S3: all SMU students have online courses on some websites for FREE. It’s not well known by most students (at least among my graduating friends) but it needs to be.

You can access LinkedIn Learning and Udemy Business through SMU Library Database, allowing you to safely learn new skills during your studies, from technical skills such as R programming to soft skills such as communication.

One thing I liked from LinkedIn Learning is that there is an AI learning coach that works like ChatGPT and can help you find the right courses for your needs.

You don’t know how much I needed this! As a sheltered kid with only the basic knowledge from JC, my noob programming skills could barely keep up in class with my L33T pro friends from polytechnic, or even JC friends that had programming knowledge. Some SMU projects even need that extra knowledge or different skill to get that A grade, like making a whole website from scratch or learning how to manage a project (something that I relate a bit too much with for my FYP).

Travel the world. Be free, my child!

I was lucky enough to clear my global exposure through an online overseas-CSP

(it was Project Shining Lights, and although they usually do activities physically, they had to change to online mode due to COVID-19 restrictions during planning. Check them out here).

However, looking at my friends travelling around the world while studying made me feel jealous, even left out. Global exposure (GE) can be cleared in more than one way but I’d say I took the least fun route. Convenient? Definitely. Life-changing? Not exactly. Aside from doing exchange, you can also clear GE through CSP, internships and certain modules (some are called study missions), all of which have varying degrees of commitment and prerequisites.

I feel like if I had planned my year 2-3 semester properly, I could have set aside more time to choose which one I would have picked to clear GE.

Although dates may change, here are some keywords to search for ways to clear your GE requirement: 

  • Exchange: International Trading Institute @ SMU, Study Abroad Fair (yearly/biyearly event

  • Study Missions: Technopreneurship Study Mission (Asia) (IS404), Student Success Centre (Studies Programmes)

With that said, my biggest regret would have been rejecting the idea of going to an exchange simply because of cost.

Firstly, not all GE opportunities are worth thousands of dollars. Distance, accommodations, and non-essential expenses would have to be factored in if you plan to save money during overseas travelling, let alone study exchange. For instance, most ASEAN countries are cheaper and easier to do an exchange or internship (we even have an entire group dedicated to this: the ASEAN Internship Programme!)

Secondly, SMU does offer study mission grants that may specialise in specific schools and major. All of these grants are usually announced via Outlook when applications are open but you can find out more in the Financial Aid Finder here (this is also useful for other financial aids you might want!)

Thank you!

As much as I hold regrets, I have also had some good times in SMU. I met good friends, learnt more about myself and the world.

I am a writer, dancer, singer, programmer, project manager and, coming August, a graduate. Although it has been a short time as a journalist, it has been fun writing my thoughts and experiences in TBNG.

I hope that my articles have been interesting to read, and that this one can help new freshies or lost undergraduates find their way in their SMU life.

With that being said, here’s Saleh signing out. Peace!! ✌️

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