By the SMU Social Media Team
When it came time for Lim Wei Xiang to pick a university, the Singapore Polytechnic graduate had more than academics on his mind. He was attracted to SMU’s unique seminar-style of teaching, and its support for students’ co-curricular activities.
When we last spoke with Wei Xiang in 2019, before he had begun his freshman year at the School of Information Systems (SIS), he shared that: “SMU provides students with numerous opportunities to excel outside of academia, and I am confident that given these opportunities, I will be able to further my passion outside of the curriculum.”
One year on, we’ve caught up with Wei Xiang again to find out how his first year of university has honed his leadership skills in and out of the classroom.
You’ve said that you chose SMU for its unique seminar-style of teaching. How are you finding the subject of Information Systems (IS), and the teaching style of the University so far?
Information Systems was tough during the first semester, but after I got the concept it has become manageable. You can see how the various IS modules link to one another. I enjoy the teaching style as there are usually multiple faculty members and teaching assistants to help us when we have trouble with coding. Also, as the lessons are not delivered in lecture style, they are more engaging. That makes learning much more enjoyable.
You are part of the first cohort to experience the new Core Curriculum. How have you found it?
As I am an IS student without any programming background, I was worried that there would be a lot of coding at first. But now, I see that there is an equal distribution of IS modules and Core modules. I would say that I have enjoyed this part of my education, as there is a good balance between my studies and co-curricular activities (CCA).
SMU’s support for CCAs was another factor you cited for choosing this university. What has your CCA experience been like so far?
I joined SMU VOIX, our resident acapella club, because I really enjoy singing. It’s only been half a year, and the experience has been amazing! In terms of my technical skills, I’ve learnt so much from my seniors. I’m glad that my CCA is very close-knit and everyone is very willing to share their knowledge. SMU allows students the opportunity to manage our CCAs independently, and it is really interesting and eye-opening to see how this club is run.
How do you think freshman year has changed you as a person?
I think my time management skills, leadership skills and interpersonal skills have improved. I am a Music Director of SMU VOIX, which is a high-commitment CCA. So it is very important for me to learn how to manage my time properly, especially since I am an SIS student as well.
Most of my leadership opportunities so far, come from my Music Director role. Needing to manage combined practices for about 30 people, I’ve learnt how to handle big groups as well as any conflicts that may arise. I’ve also honed my leadership skills thanks to projects where I’ve had to plan and assign roles to my project mates, and ensure that all our meetings ran efficiently.
As for interpersonal skills, we are exposed to different types of people in SMU all the time. Since everyone is different, I constantly need to learn to adapt to the different personalities I meet. Overall, SMU has really helped me to grow, and prepared me for real-world situations.
You receive financial assistance from MOE and SMU. What’s your advice for incoming students who are concerned about financing their education?
I applied for the SMU Bursary and it has helped me with some of my daily allowance. If you are concerned about financing your education, SMU has different forms of financial aid available every semester, for which you can apply. There are also many scholarship opportunities too.
I know that SMU also offers some student assistant roles that have flexible hours to accommodate your academic schedule, which is a big help to students who have financial difficulties. There are also tuition loans available which allows for loan repayment to begin after you graduate and start working.
How have your community service experiences facilitated by SMU impacted you personally?
As part of SMU Inspirar, a student community service initiative, I visited a few elderly beneficiaries and got a small glimpse into their daily lives. I noticed how their day to day can be quite mundane and how excited there were to have us visit them. This has inspired me want to make the effort to give back more; and I hope that in the future, I can visit them occasionally and brighten their days with some of my music.
What advice would you have for students who are considering applying for a place at SMU, and how can they make the most of freshman year?
If you are looking for a university that is versatile, not merely academic-driven, and has a vibrant student life, SMU is the perfect place for you!
One of the considerations you should have in mind is whether you are willing to be outspoken and sociable. By that, I do not mean that you need to be an extrovert. Rather, if you want to learn to be outspoken and adaptable when talking to different people, SMU will be a good place. I was quite the introvert when I entered the University. But after being exposed to the culture in SMU, I have learnt to be more outspoken and adaptable when conversing with different types of people.
One top tip I would give is: don’t focus too much on your GPA and miss out on other things in life! For me, it is very important to not just be able to study well, but also take up a CCA that I like. Joining a CCA in SMU can give you a peak into the complexities of how an organisation is managed, which is really useful in the real-world context.
Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our School of Information Systems’ undergraduate programmes today.