By the SMU Digital Marketing Team
Digital transformation. Globalisation. Climate change. With the world changing at a rapid pace, building competitive advantage has evolved into a different ballgame. And while being able to adapt quickly and thrive in new environments has become somewhat of a human instinct, the process of choosing a university has become more challenging than ever – how do you decide on the right education that can prepare you for a future filled with opportunities, disruptions, and revolutionary transformations? What are some of the factors to consider when choosing a university, so you can be ready for the economy of tomorrow?
Higher education should no longer be a mere source of a coveted qualification, but an accelerator to empower you to stand out and gain an edge in an increasingly demanding workforce. From a world-class faculty of industry experts to help graduates gain the skillsets needed to succeed in any career path in the future, to opportunities that can hone competencies beyond what’s taught in class, a forward-thinking university is a purveyor of domain knowledge as well as soft skills such as critical thinking and communication which are essential in any workplace environment today. SMU delivers all that, and more — by being part of the SMU community, students also gain valuable life experiences (think ‘heart skills’ such as ethical and social responsibility) to complement the depth of knowledge in their selected domains to thrive in the 21st century.
Given the hefty considerations for today’s students, choosing a university is no easy feat, for it’s a decision that will have lasting impact way past graduation. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a handy guide to help you find the university of your dreams. Here are six factors to consider.
1. The right learning environment is key
A strong learning environment is important for all students. The right collegiate ecosystem provides a sense of community and plays a key role in shaping your overall undergraduate experience. City campuses, for starters, have the advantage of melding the benefits of big city living – cultural and recreational opportunities, internships and job prospects, and a diverse population – with the educational resources of a world-class institution. For example, SMU is centrally located in the heart of Singapore’s central business district among museums, theatres and galleries, where students are embedded into a bustling community. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a generous living budget to thrive in the city.
But it’s not all play and no work. Within such close proximity to the business community, SMU students find it beneficial to immerse themselves in the very environment they will eventually thrive in, so they can get to know the corporate world – right from Day One of university.
Further, consider the style of learning best suited to your needs: Traditional lectures in auditoriums where instructors disseminate information to a large group of students, or active learning through 100 per cent seminar-style small classes? The latter is offered at SMU, which encourages strong professor-student interaction, fostering open discussions and the exchange of ideas rather than one-way communication.
Next, think about whether having control over your schedule, being able to choose your professors and studying at your own pace are priorities for your learning experience. For those seeking a flexible, customisable experience, SMU offers you the opportunity to live and learn — your way — through the flexibility to customise your study week and the duration of your undergraduate journey.
2. You need to be prepared for life beyond graduation
Besides equipping you with domain knowledge in your area of interest, a university is — ideally — also a place to hone the skills required for life in the real world and lay the groundwork for exploring career pathways.
Case in point: SMU equips graduates with key competencies to empower them to navigate today’s rapidly evolving world. A guaranteed second major, for one, imparts analytical thinking and innovation skills, while expanding the breadth of professional trajectories; and students can take on real-world challenges by collaborating on projects with corporations, non-profit and government organisations in experiential learning experiences under SMU-X.
That’s not all. Global traction underpins career success in today’s globally connected business environment. Global exposure from the vantage of university education thus becomes invaluable, and SMU is the first university in Singapore to ask that all students have global exposure before graduating, through international exchanges, internships, study missions, summer programmes and community service projects in over 159 cities around the world and 220 global partner universities.
You should also ensure that the university of your choice prepares you for a career ahead. Graduates of SMU, for example, are sought after by top employers in both local and international markets: The 2020 Joint Graduate Employment Survey (GES) revealed that its graduates command one of the best starting salaries along with strong employment rates. Through resources such as regular industry talks by leading practitioners, internships in various industries, a dedicated career coach assigned to freshmen right from the start of their undergraduate journey as well as curated workshops, students are thoroughly prepared for the workplace upon graduation.
3. You need to be taught by world-class faculty who can mentor and nurture you
As key players in your higher education experience, professors play an integral role in moulding young minds and nurturing future-ready leaders of the volatile world. They are responsible for teaching students, guiding their research, and providing them with the necessary resources to become successful in their field. A top-notch faculty not only possesses an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the principles and theories within their fields, but also has strong ties with industry through collaborations and professional experience — to provide real-world insights into the inner workings of organisations.
The world-class faculty at SMU is well-versed in applying theoretical knowledge to solve real challenges faced by industries. Not only has a 2020 global study by Stanford University placed some of our professors among the top scientists of the world, SMU faculty are also endowed with a wealth of experience in research, teaching, and consultancy, committed to providing balanced excellence in teaching and research as well as contributing service to the university, community, and profession.
4. You need multidisciplinary skillsets to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce
As more industries are disrupted by technology, global events and the rise of new sectors, traditional career paths that graduates have embarked upon for generations have evolved. To thrive in tomorrow’s workforce, it is imperative that future graduates develop multidisciplinary skillsets that allow them to work across different functions and succeed in the 21st century workplace. As such, prospective students should seek a university that provides a flexible academic pathway, such that they have the freedom to choose their areas of interest through a holistic curriculum.
Fortunately, with over 300 second-major combinations, more than 20 double degree options, and the opportunity to take any major combination of your choice at SMU, you can definitely find the perfect blend of disciplines to meet your personal goals. The University’s Core Curriculum, comprising carefully curated courses units that every undergraduate is required to complete, also ensures an interdisciplinary and intellectual experience that nurtures the depth, breadth and flexibility to rise to the challenges of our current, fast-changing climate.
5. Choose a diverse and vibrant community of global citizens
There are many benefits to attending a university that has a diverse student body. For one, students are surrounded by people from all walks of life, which will only expand their worldview. Additionally, they can learn how to navigate and interact with people from different cultures, which is a valuable skill in today’s increasingly globalised world. Finally, when it comes time to job hunting, employers love candidates who have experience working with diverse teams.
At SMU, freshmen students typically hail from over 190 high schools from over 90 cities around the world. They range from student leaders, artists or top athletes, to entrepreneurs, debaters and student leaders with a heart for service. The University also offers a vibrant community with more than 150 student clubs on campus, as well as a warm and supportive peer community to build an inclusive and uplifting social environment.
6. Look at reputation – not just rankings
The reputation of a stellar institution of higher education goes a long way in conveying to future employers the values that are synonymous with its graduates. The international recognition and visibility of the university can also add vital credibility to a job candidate’s profile while serving as a testament to high teaching quality and a world-class curriculum and faculty.
SMU, for example, is the first university in Singapore to have received the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs accreditation, bestowed only upon institutions that can demonstrate the overall excellence of its research programmes by providing the most comprehensive protections for research participants. It is also ranked first in Asia for Econometrics, the first triple-accredited business school in Asia, and top in Asia in the Brigham Young University Accounting Research Rankings.
Here, every student receives an education that will empower them to create meaningful impact – both personally and professionally – regardless of their background or circumstances. The University offers an education that is tailored for each of its students’ needs with flexible pathways and majors, small class sizes, and ample opportunities for student participation in club activities and leadership roles on campus.
Its mission is simple: SMU wants you to graduate ready for life’s next challenge, wherever it takes you.
Get ready to take on the world. Join us at the SMU Open House 2022!