Posted by Joey Asher Tan
This is an expanded version of what I sent ZY via SMS a couple of weeks ago. She found it helpful so I thought it may also be helpful for those of you who are considering private university education in Singapore. This is based on how I have decided to choose the part-time Bachelor of Communications course awarded by RMIT via SIM. Who knows, we might be classmates come September.
- Cost: You must know how much you can afford. The last thing you want is to end up with a mountain of bank debt before you even get your first paycheck. I have budgeted $15,000 for my university education.
- Duration: One of my considerations was to get the Bachelor’s as fast as I could (so that I can begin my Master of Theology) and since I head straight into the final year of the course (after exemptions), I will complete my studies within 18 months from commencement.
- Tuition: I knew that I could not study independently hence following a structured syllabus via lectures and tutorials does provide the academic support that I need. If you are confident of going solo, you will save a lot of money on tuition fees but I tried that once and realised I could not cope.
- Learning Curve: Before RMIT, I actually enrolled with UOL (Bachelor of Business). I neither enjoyed Accounts nor looked forward to Statistics and Economics. With a Bachelor of Communications, I would be taking on familiar modules that I would probably enjoy more.
- Usefulness: I deliberately took Accounts and Business Management whilst in Shanghai these modules benefitted my work immediately; it’s important and certainly more rewarding when what you study value-adds your work, especially if you are in a related industry.
- Interest: This is the most subjective criterion. Unless you’re a highly self-motivated individual, it’d be really tough to sustain interest in a subject that you have little interest in at the beginning. You may not need to love your course, but you must like it at least!
- Convenience: Convenience is a great factor in the commute between office, school and home. An additional 30mins of travel due to far distances could end up tiring you out more than you imagine it, especially during work or academic peak periods.
- Recognition: Be more selective if you plan to work in the civil service or with MNCs. Check with the organisation(s) that you plan to work for to ensure the recognition of your degree. Don’t spend a fortune in time, energy and resources to pursue a degree only to be paid like a diploma holder.
- Recommendation: Ask friends who have completed the course or visit online forums to get a general public perception of this degree. My ex-classmates gave it a thumbs up as this degree boosted their career prospects and added value to their scope of work.
- Assessment Method: I never enjoyed mugging (i.e. memory work) and I know that I score better through coursework (i.e. projects/assignments). UOL awards one year’s work on a single exam paper while RMIT spreads the academic intensity. Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
- Student Body: The quality of your course mates-to-be is just as important. If the majority are not serious about their education, your course work will suffer and the type of interaction and network you inherit may not benefit your academic or career development in the longer run.
- Post-graduate Options: Unless you decide that this is your final foray into academia, do consider your university education as part of the bigger picture of the education that you wish to pursue in years to come. Scrutinise also the awarding university’s own post-graduate paths.
One of the regrets that I have is that I didn’t pursue my university education during my Army days; I’d have ORD and graduated at the same time. But there’s no point looking backwards since I can’t change my past but my future. We all know that education is an investment of time, energy and money. I do look forward to starting school. It’s been a decade since I first attended classes in a tertiary institution. The adjustments would be a challenge itself. Juggling it with a full-time job would be another daunting challenge. But at the end of the day, after all the struggling and tough times, the one who benefits most, is me.
I sincerely hope that the above personal guide would be able to help you in your decision-making.
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