By Ranya Arora and Aishwarya Mirania Agarwal, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business
Some say that choosing your university is very much like choosing your home for the next four years. The environment, the people and the activities around you need to be enjoyable in a way that keeps you engaged until you graduate.
To help prospective students with their research, SMU hosted its annual Open House on 7 – 8 March 2015. It was amazing to see how all the schools and clubs got together to give our guests a taste of the SMU experience.
If you went on any of the campus tours, you’d have met members of the SMU Ambassadorial Corps, who led the tours and answered questions from high school graduates and their parents. But if you were too shy or didn’t get a chance to meet the Ambassadors, this post will help you to shed some light on the questions that you didn’t dare to ask out loud.
Here are some of the burning questions that we collected from visiting students at Open House, about various aspects of life at SMU. All answers were provided by the ever-helpful SMU Ambassadors, with special thanks to Justin Lim for his insightful replies.
Life at SMU: University Basics
1. Is it easy to make friends in SMU?
There are many opportunities to make friends in SMU, right from the start with the various orientation camps. At these camps, freshmen have the opportunity to interact with their peers from various schools, as well as their seniors. As the academic year progresses, there will be many other avenues to make friends through co-curricular activities (CCAs), student groups, school events and also during lessons through project work.
2. Where are the best food places in SMU?
There are many food places in and around SMU, like Koufu, Food Republic, Din Tai Fung, Tea Party and Pastamania. Raffles City, Chijmes, The Cathay and Plaza Singapura are also within 10 minutes walking distance from SMU, with many food courts and fast food options.
3. Does SMU have a school mascot?
SMU does not have a school mascot. However, we do have a Patron’s Day Mascot, Smoo Smoo, which we introduced in January 2014.
Fully conceptualised and created by our students, Smoo Smoo is located in the heart of our campus. Did you see it during our open house? 🙂
4. Is it very boring without a hall life?
Quite the opposite! Even if you don’t stay in our hostels, you can be assured that the life of a SMU student is never boring.
As a young school, we are always open to new ideas and initiatives. Our very own students initiate a great majority of our clubs and societies, as well as Overseas Community Service Projects. Currently, we have over 100 student clubs, and the number is still growing.
Then there’s the perk of our city campus: the city! Studying at SMU puts you right at the heart of town — with all the food, movies, museums and more. Let’s put it this way: retail therapy is just too easy when Raffles City is a 5-minute walk away from the Lee Kong Chian School of Business.
And if you’re still craving the hall experience, we do have a campus hostel of our own called the Prinsep Street Residences (PSR). Apart from staying within walking distance from the school, this creates chances for local and international SMU students to get to know each other better. More information about PSR can be found here.
5. I heard SMU is very competitive and the uni body is not as bonded. Is this true?
The small size of the student body in SMU means that we are able to get together at university-wide events such as Patron’s Day celebrations and Starry Nite (which is a showcase of SMU Soundfoundry’s bands, held at the end of every semester). Also, it’s easy to catch up with friends from different schools as SMU’s six buildings are located in close proximity, and linked up by the convenient underground concourse.
Small class sizes, closely-knit CCAs, and project workgroups all provide opportunities for closer interaction between students. It’s not rare to know each of your classmates — and even their friends — by name! Each school also has a student society (for e.g. the SMU business society is called Bondue), which plans events such as welfare drives where students can get together and bond over food and performances.
Time Management 101
6. How long does an average student spend in school every week?
For every module that you enrol in, there will be three hours of lessons per week. SMU students usually take four or five modules every semester, which translates to spending around 12 to 15 hours in classes every week. This means that there is actually a lot of time for a typical SMU student to pursue his/her interests, and to participate in student activities.
7. How often do you get 8 hours of sleep?
The amount of sleep that one gets would definitely vary from person to person, and I feel that it boils down to proper time management. By being productive and managing time effectively, sleep deprivation should not be an issue, since each of us has only around 12 to 15 hours of classes per week.
8. Are there places for students to stay overnight to rush out assignments?
SMU does have 24/7 facilities catered for students, to provide them with a conducive environment to do their work at anytime The SMU Learning Commons located at the Li Ka Shing Library is one such facility, and the SMU Labs is another.
Student Life: An Introduction
9. What are some of the more unique CCA’s in SMU that other universities in Singapore do not offer?
Some examples would include Samba Masala, an Afro-Brazilian percussion band, SMU Broadcast and Entertainment, where students can take on roles such as emcees and radio talk-show hosts, as well as the SMU Xtremists, which consists of seven extreme sports clubs like diving and kayaking.
Although these CCAs are naturally more popular in SMU, there is always the option of setting up a new CCA which caters to your interest, if you find that it is not yet represented within SMU’s variety of clubs.
10. Are there a lot of leadership opportunities in SMU?
Yes, there are plenty of leadership opportunities on various platforms. These range from taking on the project leader role during modules, leading community service projects, stepping up to executive committee roles within CCAs or student bodies, or organising school-wide events.
11. Is there a soccer field in SMU? Where do you conduct your outdoor activities?
There is no soccer field in SMU, but we do have many sports facilities in the vicinity of Bras Basah, such as the Kallang area where there are soccer fields and softball courts for instance. For sports which require larger areas for training purposes, the Office of Student Life helps us to source for training venues for our clubs.
12. Can we start up our own CCA?
Yes definitely, if you have a special interest that is not yet represented by SMU’s 120+ clubs and societies, you are most welcome to start your own CCA!
13. How many CCAs can we join?
There is no limit to how many CCAs students are allowed to join. Students are at liberty to plan their time to pursue their interests, as well as to manage their studies.
It is possible to be part of many CCAs because the commitments of each one may be heavier only at certain times of the year. For example, sports CCAs such as track and field would require heavier commitment especially closer to the Inter-Varsity Polytechnic (IVP) competition season in Dec/Jan. It’s all up to how you plan and manage your different commitments.
There were too many great questions to answer in one blog post. Click here for Part 2 of this article!