By the SMU Digital Marketing Team
When it comes to picking a university, there are endless factors to consider — it’s no wonder that many students feel stressed out by the process. However, it’s also important to remember that there is no “perfect” college for everyone. The best institution for you is the one that feels like a good fit, offering the opportunities and environment that you are looking for.
In today’s job market, employers are increasingly looking for applicants with real-world experience. Besides imparting deep domain knowledge, students now seek a robust pedagogy that focuses on interactive and collaborative learning to better prepare them for the workplace.
Sociology and Business Management major Jamie Ho, for one, is reaping the rewards of a higher education with immersive, hands-on experiences. Read on to learn how the SMU School of Social Sciences penultimate student has gained experiential learning opportunities that have made all the difference.
What made you decide on SMU?
SMU’s pedagogy was the first thing that appealed to me. Coming from the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, which has a small class setting, I couldn’t picture myself being a face in the crowd, sitting in a large lecture hall. The opportunity to get to know your professors – and for them to know you – is something that I look forward to every semester.
“The opportunity to get to know your professors – and for them to know you – is something that I look forward to every semester.”
The SMU-X courses were another draw: being able to work with companies and apply what you’ve learnt was something I valued. Now, as a third-year student who has undergone three SMU-X courses, I’ve realised that although they’re demanding, the courses enrich my academic journey.
What do you recall of your first month at SMU?
From trying out different co-curricular activities (CCAs) and discovering where all the classrooms and seminar rooms were, to making new friends, it was a busy but exciting time. I remember surveying strangers along the nearby Waterloo Street for Senior Lecturer of Statistics Rosie Ching’s Statistics-X class, and embarking on a field trip to The Botanic Gardens for Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society Fiona Williamson’s Science Environment and Empire module.
Academics aside, I was also a part of Soundfoundry, a CCA for meeting other talented musicians to form bands and perform. Practising with them for our first gig at Timbre X @ Substation is definitely one of the best memories from my first month in SMU.
What has been your favourite course so far, and why?
I’m torn between Social Stratification and Inequality, and Foundations in Strategic Communication.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Yasmin Ortiga’s Social Stratification and Inequality course really opened my eyes to the various inequalities that plague societies. As a result, I’ve developed a more critical perspective on the nuances of inequality, and how it is something that is incredibly difficult to navigate. It also helps that Yasmin is a great professor who somehow makes 8am classes enjoyable!
Foundations in Strategic Communication, on the other hand, underscored how communications is a broad field with many important functions. Although it is not an SMU-X module, I had the opportunity to work with a real company and help resolve their communications issues. The course was challenging, but Associate Professor of Communication Management (Practice) Yeo Su Lin’s guidance was incredibly helpful in giving me a better understanding of organisational communications. Her enthusiasm is infectious; I could feel her passion for the subject even through virtually-conducted lessons.
What is one quality you have been able to nurture at SMU?
That would be time management. Apart from being given the flexibility to plan my own timetable, the many opportunities to grow outside the classroom has forced me to schedule my time properly. This was a departure from my IB experience, as timetables are usually scheduled and we simply had to follow them. At SMU, I have the agency to decide how and when to spend my time.
Tell us about your CCA experience.
Jamie (first from left) was a part of SMU’s Touch Rugby team
I spent my first two years at SMU as part of the SOSCIETY’s Management Committee. SOSCIETY is the Constituent Student Body representing the School of Social Sciences – in simple terms, it’s like a student council executive committee, but without heavy supervision from teachers. Instead, you get to choose how to best serve the student body.
I also had the opportunity to work alongside my peers to organise events. In particular, during my term as the Professional Development and Academic Director, my team launched Freshmen 102, an informal session for freshmen to share non-academic concerns with seniors and better integrate into SMU life.
What sort of global exposure programmes have you embarked upon?
I’m currently on an international exchange programme at Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Netherlands, and it’s been amazing so far: From self-discovery and living independently, to broadening my worldview with new insights. I feel like a freshman all over again, but in a good way – I have embraced new experiences, learnt about other cultures, and made new friends.
Jamie visiting Paris with fellow exchange students from Hong Kong
Being in Europe also means that I get to travel. So far, I’ve not only seen the Northern Lights, but visited many art museums. In fact, I’m currently on a bus ride to Paris, as I’m writing this!
How are you financing your education?
Being a recipient of the Lee Kong Chian Scholars’ Programme is a privilege and blessing that I’m incredibly grateful for. Although it comes with added academic pressure, I’m fortunate to be able to alleviate my parents’ financial burden – the scholarship even covers my plane ticket and accommodation for my exchange programme.
How has SMU prepared you for your career aspirations?
I see myself entering either the healthcare or family planning sector, specifically to develop programmes or communications campaigns.
Being on an international exchange programme has helped me be more open-minded and culturally sensitive – two traits I believe are important in our diverse and increasingly complex society. Together with learning how to live independently, I’ve surprised myself at how adaptable I can be.
Group projects at SMU have also reinforced the importance of teamwork and strong team dynamics. I’ve had my fair share of frustrations as part of a team, but I’ve also felt the joys of good team chemistry. Being a good team player is an essential skill in the working world, especially when I’ll likely be interacting with people from different backgrounds.
Complete this sentence: Five years from now, I…
Hope to be content and have no regrets. All my experiences so far were from a series of saying ‘yes’, whether I was ready or not, and they have moulded me into who I am today. While I’ve come to learn that every ‘yes’ also brings the possibility of saying ‘no’ to something else – or what economists term the ‘opportunity cost’ – it’s also important to be content with my decisions. After all, what point is there in living with regret and wishing I’d done something different? Time only marches forward, and we can only seek to be content with what we have, not what we don’t.
Looking to be part of the new generation of Social Sciences graduates – versatile in tackling complexities and solving problems for the world? Accept your SMU offer today! Acceptance closes 24 May 2022.