Choosing a university course

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” – Sydney J. Harris

The most common mistake that students make is to choose a university solely based on its reputation and his/her own academic grades. You will be studying in this university for at least 3 years and your future opportunities will largely depend on whether you flourish in this university. So do yourself a favour, and start exploring in order to make an informed decision.

 

Key Factors to consider

1/  Make sure you’ve chosen the right subject 

Career opportunities

  • It is fundamental to be 120% sure about your subject. The subject you choose will equip you with skills that enable you to position yourself well for your first career.  For more information on choosing a career, click here.

  • There are some careers that require specific degrees e.g. accounting, nursing. 

  • Some careers require professional accreditation before you can practice e.g. architecture, psychology, medicine, law. These has implications if you choose to study abroad. 

  • It is not advisable to choose your subject solely based on career prospects. A "hot" job trend now may no longer exist when you graduate. The only thing that remains constant is your passion for what you do and how good you are at it.

Course content

  • Read up on the course content of the university courses and see if you find the modules appealing. You can most likely relate the modules to H2 subjects that you have learnt. Ask yourself if you found the H2 subjects interesting and easy to study.

  • Compare course content across different universities. For similar degrees, the optional modules, specialisations and minors can differ significantly by university.  You may also wish to choose courses that allow you to take specific types of second majors.

  • Compare the research and internship opportunities provided within each faculty. Your research project and internship could lead to future career opportunities.

  • If information is not available on the website, you could visit the university during Open Day and ask the professors and students.

Course entry requirements

  • Check the Indicative grade profile. Your academic grades should ideally be above the 10th percentile IGP.

  • Check if there are any other requirements e.g. portfolio submission, testing

    • You will need to submit a portfolio for art courses e.g. NTU Art Design and Media, SIT Digital Art and Animation

    • U.S universities require you to take SAT/ACT test before you apply

    • UK universities may require you to take additional tests during your year of application

    • NTU Medicine requires you to take BMAT in the year before application.

    • Some overseas universities have additional language requirements e.g. TOEFL, IELTs if you did not take O level English

Course structure

  • If you are still unsure of which subject you wish to study, you may wish to choose courses that have a common curriculum in year one

  • At the end of year 1, you can make a more informed choice of your selected major. 

  • Examples of such courses include Yale-NUS, SUTD, NUS FASS, NUS Engineering

Teaching pedagogies

Qualifications that you will get

2/  Make sure you’ve chosen the right university

University rankings

  • University rankings must be taken with a pinch of salt. Read up on the ranking methodology first. You would notice that the ranking methodology does not care if your favorite Starbucks is situated in the university or not.  You would in fact notice that the ranking is largely influenced by the reputation of the university in the research community. Something which may not be important to you.

  • By and large, all local AUs are reputable in the eyes of local employers. If you wish to work overseas immediately after graduation, the logical choice is to study overseas in the country you wish to work in. 

  • As the number of overseas universities are huge, the ranking tables are a good place to start exploring. Look at the ranking tables by subject as well. Usually top 100 universities are largely very reputable in their own countries. Specialist universities like SUTD cannot be found in the ranking tables.

Unique Programmes

  • Programmes you can read up on include student exchange programmes, residential college programmes, industry collaborations, university collaborations

  • Do not forget to look at the Career Guidance offices as universities play a big part in helping you transit from university to work

 

University Facilities

  • Many students will decide to stay at the hostels accommodation, so taking a look at hostel facilities during Open Day is a must. Besides the facilities, also consider factors like cost of accommodation, food arrangements, room-sharing arrangements, distance to your faculty and the hostel culture 

  • Other facilities to look at include the library (as this is where you will study most of the time), food options and research facilities

Distance

  • Consider how far you would like to be when you study. This will likely impact your daily transport arrangements and hostel arrangements.

  • For students considering overseas options, consider which country you would like to study in. UK and US is generally considered to be rather far from Singapore. You may wish to opt for nearer options like Australia, Japan or China. In this way, your family could even visit you during the holidays.

Location

  • Consider whether you wish to be in a city campus like SMU where you are surrounded by shopping centres and night life. Or whether you wish to stay in a self-contained campus like NTU. 

  • For overseas universities, factors like weather and landscape could be considered. As US is a very large country, the location of the university could determine whether you are staying in a perennially cold climate or a climate not unlike that of Singapore. For students going to UK, tennis buffs could choose to stay near Wimbledon and for students going to Canada, being near scenic spots could be a factor!

Student Life

  • Consider the student activities and clubs available and see if any matches your interests and hobbies. Student life is what makes the university vibrant and happening!

Tuition Fees and Financial Aid

  • Some universities and courses have slightly higher tuition fees e.g. Medicine, SMU, SUTD and Yale-NUS. 

  • Check here for more information.

 

Where to look for advice

University Open Days
  • The Open Days takes place in the 3 weeks after A level results release. Do not miss them as you can walk around the campus and visit the facilities

Education and Career Guidance Counsellor
  • The Counsellor has up-to-date information on universities and is able to guide you through the process of selecting a university course that matches your interests and personality

Teacher Admissions Coordinators

Teachers
  • Your school teachers understand you well and may be able to advise you on which university courses are suitable for your strengths and weaknesses. But do not expect them to tell you what to do in future

EDlumni
  • EDlumni are ex-nyjcians who are currently in university or just graduated. They will be able to give you an accurate picture of what university life is like

University websites
  • Most of the time, university websites hold the answer to your questions

Admissions Officers
  • If you cannot google the answer, admissions officers of each university will be more than happy to answer your questions

Student support groups, Social media, Forums and Blogs
  • ​There are tons of blogs and forums out there. You just need to find them.