5 Ways to Get into Your Dream University

By the SMU Social Media Team

With over 70,000 applications received by Singapore universities, getting into a school of your dreams might seem a tad daunting. However, besides aiming for brilliant grades, there are also other ways to increase your chances. Here are a few insider tips for gaining an edge over fellow applicants:


1. Ensure you have all required academic information organised and prepared


Having all the required documents ready—including your personal identification, relevant certificates, co-curricular activity reports, and reference letters—decreases the chances of you messing up your application or missing the application window because you couldn’t locate one or more of the required documents. It also shows that you take the application process seriously and are applying only after careful preparation.


2. Grades are not everything

While most universities will require a minimum grade or GPA for you to be considered for admission, it is important to remember that grades are not everything. Most applicants have good academic results, and you need to find out how to set yourself apart from the competition.

With good grades as the minimum requirement, the admission process (particularly during the interviews phase covered below) is a good opportunity to highlight that you are well-rounded and able to excel not only academically. Showcasing other achievements, such as competition accolades, a leadership role in your past CCAs, or showing your volunteer work as part of a non-profit group, can be good ways to show that you are someone who can lead, or that you look at the world as a whole and are willing to take the time the effort to help others with little personal gain. This gives the admissions officer a chance to understand you as a person, and not just as another applicant with outstanding grades.


3. Work it

One always assumes that education is the stepping stone to a bright career. But it doesn’t hurt to have some real-world work experience to make the most out of your higher education.

Known for its holistic curriculum and admissions programme, SMU considers applicants who may not have met the cut-off academic grade but have other outstanding achievements and attributes. Hence, spending your breaks earning your stripes at various internships instead of café hopping, or starting that side business you’ve always wanted to try out doesn’t just look good on your future CV, but earns major brownie points on your admission application. After all, excelling at work displays critical thinking abilities, communication skills, and a positive attitude (for example, motivation, perseverance, determination, curiosity)—all of which are traits valued by universities.


Applicant makes a good first impression


4. Be well prepared for the interview

Most universities require shortlisted applicants to pass an interview (or two) before deciding on whether to accept or reject their application. While these interviews can be tough, always bear in mind that no one knows you better than yourself!

Before (or whether) you even get called in for an interview, make sure you’ve done adequate research and spoken to students who are already attending the university to understand the interview process and possible questions you might be asked. You never really know what the interviewer really wants to know, and whether there is a right or wrong answer, but a general tip is to present yourself in a way that will allow the interviewer to get to know you more holistically. It helps to try to focus your responses on your personality or interests outside of academia—after all, your good grades are all already on paper and the only way the interviewer can get to know you more is through hearing you talk about yourself.

For less personal questions, such as why you’ve chosen to apply for this particular university, take the chance to present your answer confidently and show that you’ve done your research and made an informed decision. If faced with questions you’re unsure of, such as why humans have two eyes, try to present your assumptions confidently and explain how you reached that conclusion. Your interviewer might be trying to understand your analytical skills instead of grilling you for an answer he/she probably might not even know.


5. Choosing ‘The One’


It’s also helpful to get to know the university campus and facilities, and mingle with current students and faculty staff to get a better understanding of the university culture. Most universities allow you access to walk through their gates and explore various areas of the campus. For SMU, which is located right in the heart of town, the city campus is an open and welcoming space not just for the SMU community, but also for aspiring students and applicants to pop by and catch a glimpse of the University’s dynamic lifestyle on campus! Pssst… the Campus Green and Underground Concourse are great spots to start with the constant plethora of vibrant student life activities.


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Join our Undergraduate Programme today.