Thet Yin Zaw
Yale-NUS Financial Aid & Donor Study Award
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My university application journey
I know I wanted to study social sciences locally but at the same time, I wanted a unique experience — a school with diversity in students, a fulfilling residential life and a curriculum that lets me explore my various academic interests. Yale-NUS was all that and more. Being a PR, I was not eligible for some scholarships in other local universities while Yale-NUS was very generous in offering financial aid to students of all nationalities. I found the application process for Yale-NUS more tedious than other local universities. I asked my economics and geography teacher for a recommendation letter. I reached out to them early to let them know of my intention to apply to Yale-NUS and slowly followed up with more information about me and the school. Yale-NUS also asks for 2 application essays or personal statements. The prompts are very broad, and you can even make up your own prompt which I did in one of my essays. I tried to focus my writing on parts of me that the admission officers cannot see from seeing my results or extracurricular activities. For example, they could see that I was very involved in Student Council so I wrote particularly about the failures I experienced in SC and the lessons I took away from them. My second essay was about my 'identity crisis' as an immigrant, having spent equal amount of time in my home country and Singapore. The interview was with an admission fellow, who is also a Yale-NUS student. You could be interviewed by trained admission fellows or admission officers. The interview is really candid and I think it works best to just relax and be yourself. Yale-NUS has 2 rounds of application and it really does not matter which round you apply in. In fact, round 2 admission offers are announced before round 1 applicants can confirm their commitment so it is not true that if you apply in round 2, you might be competing for less spaces.
Life after NYJC
University life has been amazing for me, I am truly living my dream. In Yale-NUS, we go through the common curriculum in the first two years. You can read about it on the website or ask me about it but I want to add that we also take electives during this two years. I am not sure of my major yet so I take classes in anthropology, urban studies and economics to explore my various interests during the common curriculum. One interesting programme you can look forward to is the Week 7 experiential learning in your first semester of college! For 1 week, all students go on a field trip or learning journey with a Professor either to another country or in Singapore. For my week 7, we studied different narratives of history and memory in Singapore and Bintan, with a focus on World War II. Led by Dr Clay Eaton whose enthusiasm for Southeast Asian History is infectious, I learnt to reconsider what I initially conceived as facts and be critical of the state, society and cultural institutions focusing on certain elements of history. On our last night in Bintan, we sat by the beach with a bonfire and s'mores as we shared and examined popular ghost stories from the region and their relationship to the traumatic war history! I am also a member of the Yale-NUS Ballroom society, Elm College Council and work at the Buttery — a student-run late night cafeteria. I really enjoy these activities and would love to chat more about it!
My Future Plans
In the next academic year, I am excited to be a Beginner Training Director of Latin Ballroom. I will be coaching freshmen interested in latin ballroom and will be choreographing a few routines! If you are asking about the future after graduation, I really don't have a clear idea yet hahaha but I hope to do some work in the public sector/NGO as a policy analyst. Or something else, I don't know, I am very flexible about it!
Tips for Juniors
Start thinking about your application early! Doing a deep reflection of who you are, the life experiences you had, your academic and professional interests and causes you care about is helpful to figure out how you want to portray yourself in your application. It is also completely understandable to conclude that you really don't know what you want to do at the end of your reflection, you are only 18-19, your growth itself is a journey worth writing about.