4 Questions to Ask Your Child When Choosing a University

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team

The world has changed dramatically in recent years and students need to be able to adapt quickly and effectively. This means that a university education should be holistic and provide them with an opportunity to develop both technical skills as well as soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, creative thinking and leadership abilities to excel in this new economy.

Given the uncertainties we now face, parents are naturally concerned about helping their children pick the right university that can nurture leaders of tomorrow.

With multiple considerations to take into account, how do you know what is best for your children? A good way to start is by asking them questions about their priorities and goals for the future. In this article, we’ll share with you some of the most important questions parents should ask when starting a conversation with their child on university choices.


1. What are you looking for in your university experience?

Most students focus on how well they can potentially do academically when they’re gearing up for university. But a well-rounded tertiary education is not just about textbooks and acing exams. Beyond accumulating knowledge, a future-ready education should enable students to hone a variety of essential life skills.

Moreover, while parents may urge their kids to pursue a more conventional degree in the hope of securing a career in an established, stable field, the younger generation may lean towards their areas of interest.

Thankfully, SMU students can enjoy the best of both worlds, by curating academic experiences from over 300 double degree and double major combinations. Such flexibility in designing their education helps widen the net of career prospects for graduates. Students can also integrate learnings across disciplines, interact with one another across majors, and work in teams to solve problems — thereby preparing them for the real world.

To develop a global perspective in our students, SMU encourages each and every one of them to participate in at least one overseas experience. As such, SMU students are offered multiple opportunities for global experiences through International Exchange Programmes; Overseas Study Missions; Overseas Community Service Projects; Overseas Internships; and SMU-X Overseas Opportunities — in over 159 cities around the world with 220 global partner universities – which give students a realistic experience working with partners abroad.

Moreover, with the SMU city campus situated in Singapore’s central business district and the arts and heritage precinct, it counts among its neighbours business headquarters, world-class museums, architectural marvels, cultural destinations and culinary delights – providing your child access to professional, personal and intellectual growth, right at its doorstep.


2. What are your career goals after university?

In a VUCA world, it’s hard to know what your child’s career goals should be. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are all part of the endemic life in which we are entering, and it’s not always clear what they need to do to succeed.

First and foremost, ask your child, what career pathways do they hope to embark upon after university: Do they want to work for a big company, join a vibrant startup or even launch a business of their own? Are they interested in a particular field or industry — and how have these sectors been affected by recent disruptions like technological transformation, climate change, the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing tensions within cross-border trade relations? Once your freshman-to-be gains an idea of what they want to do and the potential challenges of reaching their goals, start researching universities that can equip them with the necessary competencies to get them on track upon graduation.

In this aspect, SMU prepares graduates to take on a wide range of different career pathways through an interactive curriculum with a guaranteed second major; global exposure; and developing our students in the top 10 job skills of the future, such as analytical thinking and innovation, active learning, complex problem-solving, and critical thinking and analysis.


3. How will you maximise your employability?

As parents of a college-age child, one of your top priorities is ensuring that they receive the best possible education to prepare them for the world stage upon graduation. Specifically, an institute of higher education should open up pathways to a successful career and greater employability. Besides its academic rigour, the right university should also offer a holistic programme that prepares students for a vibrant career, from the day they step onto campus as a freshman.

Leveraging upon its vast industry network, SMU organises regular industry talks and lectures by industry practitioners, to provide insights into the real world. The University also encourages all students to gain a taste of working in different industries to gauge their interest and aptitude in a particular career through a mandatory 10-week internship before graduation, with support provided to students in securing relevant placements with hands-on learning experiences. A dedicated Career Centre provides career counselling, resume writing workshops, and networking events that can help connect students with employers.

As such, SMU graduates are highly sought after by top employers locally and internationally. In the 2021 Joint Graduate Employment Survey (GES) conducted by SMU and the other Autonomous Universities, its graduates again emerged with one of the best starting salaries and strongest employment rates in Singapore amongst all Singapore government-funded universities.


4. How can a university prepare you for a lifetime of meaningful impact, beyond work?

It’s no secret that the economy is changing. Jobs that used to be commonplace are now scarce, and new careers are emerging all the time. So, how does a university education prepare your child for this ever-changing economy?

Today’s top universities stand out by being dedicated to grooming a future-ready workforce, often through collaborative, interactive learning. At SMU, an interactive seminar-style pedagogy also provides the groundwork for sharpening ‘hard’ critical and analytical skills while honing ‘soft’ articulation, presentation and leadership skills. An emphasis on ‘heart’ skills also nurtures your child to be a socially responsible leader — one who could navigate and thrive within this Asian Century of fast-paced economic development and transformation.

This form of student-centred learning starts with the Core Curriculum at SMU, which emphasises faculty-student interaction and the exchange of ideas. The common interdisciplinary and intellectual programme exposes students to experiential learning characterised by project-based learning, tackling of real problems and mentoring by faculty members and industry partners.

Finally, SMU students also have opportunities aplenty for a rich and fulfilling student life outside the classroom for a truly holistic education. From transforming their interests into meaningful impact, to being able to demonstrate future-ready and leadership traits, your child could gain strong experience via over 150 student organisations in SMU.

It is impossible to predict the future, especially given the uncertainties we currently face. But if our children are going to be leaders of tomorrow, their education will play a huge role in navigating disruption and its potential impact on life goals. That’s why it’s important to look at what makes a school great – not just in terms of rankings or prestige, but also how it will guide its graduates towards grasping the opportunities that tomorrow will bring.



Done with the conversation? Get your child ready to take on the world. Applications are now open!