One Year On With Alicia Li, SMU Law Freshman

By the SMU Social Media Team

Students who have aced their pre-tertiary education and gained acceptance into a university of their choice often reckon they’ve survived the toughest part of their education journey. For others, however, freshman year at university could be a new challenge, without the familiarity of a structured, passive learning process.

“The seminar-style teaching of SMU encourages greater interaction,” said Alicia Li, when she first chatted with us as an incoming freshman from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) last year.

“Instead of merely memorising information, SMU hones my ability to speak eloquently, think quickly, and substantiate my answer with facts—this is, fundamentally, the foundation of being a lawyer.”

This transition is intensified by having to tackle brand new subject matter, which Alicia came to realise in her first year of reading law. It involves broadening the mind and gaining a depth of knowledge through the pursuit of multiple subjects.

“SMU is versatile and forward-thinking as it constantly reviews its curriculum to adjust to the changing demands of the world,” added Alicia.

“All the schools in SMU are interconnected, which allows me to broaden my field of knowledge and see law in context of another discipline, by taking a second major of my choice.”

We check in with the Bachelor of Laws freshman to find out more about the big changes she had to face in her freshman year.



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

I had the opportunity to sit in on the Big Questions: Happiness and Suffering class by Dean of Core Curriculum Professor Elvin Lim, during my first semester. I was initially taken aback by his unique teaching style and the boldness of his assertions. After a while, I began to appreciate his teaching methodology and thought-provoking assertions. I discovered that there was always something to take away and ponder over at the end of every lesson. As someone who thinks a lot about the way the world, the Core Curriculum stimulates my intellectual curiosity.


What advice would you like to share with students who are considering SMU?

You should apply to SMU if you want to be more open-minded, without severely sacrificing on the academic rigours synonymous with the Singapore education system. For those who are already in their freshman year, don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. Find something that is right for you, taking into account your strengths, weaknesses and passions. You should carve out a space for yourself and write your own narrative, regardless of what someone else’s story may be.


How do you think freshman year has changed you as a person?

I’ve had more freedom in doing the things I want to do, and it is refreshing not being under the strict control of my teachers and school—unlike in junior college. I’ve learnt to be better at using my time wisely. University allows you to do your own thing and choose the events that you want to go for, and as a person who likes to keep to herself, I find that this is a good thing as I am responsible for my own learning and the way I plan my time outside of class.


How would you describe your first year as a law student?

Frankly, it has been a very trying first year. Law takes some getting used to, and I was made more aware of what I already knew—that nothing is entirely “fair” or clear, and not even the legal system is infallible. I have struggled to maintain my scholarship requirement as I am still figuring out the right study approach for the law programme.

My consolation is that I have had the opportunity to come across wonderful professors who make learning about a boring subject matter infinitely more enjoyable. I am grateful for every one of the law professors whom I have had the pleasure of learning from thus far.


How has the interdisciplinary nature and seminar-style teaching style impacted your learning so far?

I think it is wonderful being able to ask questions and have my doubts clarified. I would never be able to do this in a lecture. I am glad that SMU has taken into consideration the big picture perspective, and implemented an interdisciplinary curriculum, as I think that there is value in being able to learn the essence of a subject without having to major in it.


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our Bachelor of Laws programme today.