One Year On with Ryan Goh, SMU Economics Freshman

By the SMU Social Media Team

If something scares you, run towards it—that’s the advice some artists and business leaders give for those who want to create exceptional legacies. Ryan Goh’s thinking when he was deciding on a university wasn’t quite so extreme, but the Raffles Institution graduate did want to challenge himself.

“I chose SMU to step out of my comfort zone and become more outspoken,” he had shared, as an incoming freshman in 2019. “The SMU learning pedagogy also focuses on preparing the students for the real world, which is the point of university education. Through my time at SMU, I hope to gain confidence and be more prepared for the working world upon graduation.”

Now pursuing a double degree in economics and business management, Ryan says he has grown in confidence as he embraced the many facets of university life. We catch up with him to find out more about his freshman year.


You previously said you chose SMU because you wanted to step out of your comfort zone. How has that been going?

Before coming to SMU, I was someone who kept to myself and didn’t speak up much in classes. The SMU learning style has encouraged me to be more comfortable in presenting and participating in class.

I was also given the chance to set up and lead SMU’s table tennis team, which required me to learn skills and processes, as well as communicate with people whom I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to talk to.

As the year progressed, I saw myself becoming more confident in class, and that confidence also applied beyond the classroom. The many programmes and activities at SMU also allow students to experience many a range of things. I came out of my little shell and began to challenge myself to try new things.



You are pursuing a double degree in economics and business management. How have these two subjects informed each other for you?

Pursuing a double degree allows me to better pace my semester. I am able to space out the different types of modules, rather than, for example, just taking quantitative modules. I feel that Economics and Business are closely related, and having that extra degree will open up my future career choices.

Most of the double degree programme combinations in SMU actually have many double-counted modules, especially so for combinations such as Accountancy–Business and Economics–Business. So I don’t really have to clear that many extra modules, compared to a student pursuing a single degree.


What have your experiences as an SMU Merit Scholar been like?

The scholarship has taken away a lot of worries that I initially had as a student and allowed me to focus solely on self-development and my studies. The Centre for Scholars Development also helped me a lot. When I had questions regarding modules or overseas exchanges, they were always there to help answer them. They also organise many activities and networking sessions with seniors and professionals who help clear our doubts and give us advice.


You are part of the first cohort to experience the new Core Curriculum. How have you found it?

The new curriculum splits up core modules into three different pillars: Capabilities, Communities and Civilisations. Modules from these three pillars teach different skills and knowledge based on what the student would like to gain.

I chose modules on Leadership, Team Building, and VUCA (an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), which require more presentations and project work. Through the Core Curriculum, I have been able to explore areas and skills I would otherwise be unable to learn in my faculty modules.


How do you think SMU has facilitated your experiences of global exposure and community service?

My most memorable experience so far has to be StarringSMU Camp. This was a community service freshman camp that I signed up for in the summer of 2019, and it was through this camp that I met my closest friends in SMU. I also have plans to head to the Philippines for my overseas Community Service Programme (CSP) project in due course. As for other global exposure activities, I am planning to go on exchange programmes when I am in Year 2 or 3.



What advice would you have for students who are considering applying for a place at SMU, and for making the most of freshman year?

Come with an open mind. Some of you may have heard about a competitive culture at SMU, but that is certainly not the case. Most of the lessons are “chill” and the seminar-style helps to facilitate and improve learning.

Consider the kind of university life you would like for yourself. If the experience of living in a dorm is a priority, then SMU may not be the place for you. But if you want to groom yourself for the workforce while being immersed in the fun side of university life, then SMU is definitely your pick.

For those embarking on their freshman year, I would suggest they participate in as many camps as possible. The friends that you make in these camps will really spice up your university life and make studying less torturous. On the academic side, do consult your seniors (be it your camp facilitators or other people you know) on how to bid for courses and what courses to bid for. By planning out your modules, you will find it much easier to study. You should also join as many CCAs as possible. Go and expose yourself to things you didn’t think you would do. Who knows, you might find a new passion or calling!


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our Bachelor of Science (Economics) programme today.