My SMU Business Freshman Year: Norman Tay

By Norman Tay, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Honestly speaking, I had not given much thought to what I wanted to do after getting my Diploma in Business Studies from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The most logical approach was to apply for a local university and get a degree.

From what I’d heard, SMU had the best Business school—rankings aside, it is tops in terms of the quality of education it provides its students. Also, I had heard many positive comments about SMU from my seniors and how SMU students differ from students of the other local universities.

At the same time, I was passionate about fitness and had wanted to pursue a career in a related field. As such, I decided to put in my application for Sports Science and Management at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) as well.

I was very thankful to have gotten a call from SMU’s undergraduate admissions office to head down for an interview session, where I got a chance to experience how seminars in SMU are conducted. I was intrigued by the idea of a two-way communication between both the professors and students. For my interview, I was grouped with 10 to 13 other applicants to discuss on a specific topic in a seminar room, while two faculty members facilitated our discussion. One tip I found which really helped me in this interview is to be open and not be afraid to share your views. Having been an introvert since young, I tend to be more soft spoken and hesitant to speak up. Nonetheless, I decided to muster up courage and just express my opinions freely. It was really enriching to hear the different perspectives given by each applicant with regard to our topic and I really enjoyed the discussion.

It was a long wait for my application results. By the time July came about, I did not have high hopes for my application into SMU; and thus, I decided to accept NTU’s offer for the Sport Science and Management programme. When I received a call later in July from SMU, stating their offer for the Business Management programme, I found myself in a bit of a dilemma. Although I was passionate about fitness, I also wanted to develop myself in terms of character and leadership.

Ultimately, what I believe is that education should not just be about getting good grades. Essentially, when we enter the workforce, what will differentiate us from others is our soft skills—in particular, communication and interpersonal skills. With the interactive style of teaching in SMU, I was assured and confident that I would be able to become a better and more well-rounded individual by the time I graduate from the University. As such, I decided to make the switch and embark on this journey with SMU.

Fast forward to my first semester in SMU, I am glad that I had made the right choice in enrolling into the University. The weekly seminars have really enhanced my learning as I am able to have a clearer grasp of the topics by engaging in the class discussions. I’m also able to clarify any possible misconceptions which I have and learn from classmates who are very participative in the discussions as well.

Having been through the lecture style in my polytechnic education, I feel that the seminar style of teaching promotes a much better understanding of the different modules as we learn from one another in class.


Norman Tay with Dragonboat Men's Team

Dragonboat Team


I also believe that school life is not just about work and we should make the best out of our university journey. Thus, I decided to join the Dragonboat team, where I have managed to find teammates who are ever so encouraging and helpful. Contrary to the belief that joining a sports CCA takes time away from schoolwork, I have found that it’s strengthened my discipline level when it comes to managing my studies.


Norman in Nepal

Project Gazaab to Nepal


Even though I’m only halfway through my freshman year, I’ve already found a key defining moment in my experience thus far at SMU. Over the winter holidays, I had the chance to travel to Nepal for an overseas community service project called Project Gazaab. On this trip, I got to experience how different life is in a developing country. No words can fully describe the experience and memories forged from this trip.

In a short span of just 6 months as an SMU student, I have gained so much invaluable experience. I am definitely looking forward to what’s to come in this journey of learning and self-discovery with SMU!


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Join our Bachelor of Business Management programme today.