Please Mind the Platform Gap (Universities Edition): Yale-NUS College (Part 2)

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By Chung Sohyun (18A13A)

Thinking about which university to apply to, or already a J2 beginning your early admission applications? Raffles Press brings you our Please Mind the Platform Gap (Universities Edition), a series of articles dedicated to providing information on Rafflesian alumni’s experiences at their respective universities.

For our previous feature on Yale-NUS College, click here.

Founded relatively recently in 2011, Yale-NUS is a liberal arts college which aims to provide a a comprehensive multidisciplinary exposure to its students. It offers a diverse range of courses from the humanities to natural sciences. Indeed, Yale-NUS is a choice to consider not just for those who prefer to study locally, but also for all who wish to immerse themselves in a vibrant environment filled with a thriving school population and dedicated faculty.

Bird-eye view of the campus (Source)

In this article, Raffles Press interviewed Syafiqah Nabilah, an alumna of RI who graduated in 2015 and is currently in her second year of university.


Why did you choose to study at Yale-NUS?

It was more of a practical reason than anything else for me. I didn’t want to go overseas because I would have had to take a scholarship and I didn’t want to have my life planned out so far ahead. I went for the Experience Yale-NUS Weekend they had for admitted students (you meet current students and take sample classes) and had a really good time, so I knew I was making the right decision.

How is the curriculum/ teaching style different from NUS and other liberal arts colleges?

It’s different from NUS academically in that you don’t have to choose a course or declare your major until your second year, and there is a common curriculum, which means for your first three semesters, you don’t get to pick most of your classes. In terms of community, it’s a much smaller school so almost everyone knows everyone and it’s I think a more welcoming and homey feeling, which I really love.

It’s different from other liberal arts colleges (especially those in the West) again because of the common curriculum and because many of the courses look beyond the Western canon. So for example for Philosophy, we would look at Descartes and Nietzsche etc, but we also do Chinese philosophy. This is one of the big advantages of university in Asia – you become familiar with a more diverse range of thought.

What do you think are some advantages and disadvantages studying in a relatively new school?

Being in a new school means you get to shape a lot of the direction both in terms of classes and student organisations. The advantages and disadvantages, I think, are a matter of perspective. On one hand, there are not many clubs that may suit your interests. But on the other hand, it can be seen as an opportunity to start your own clubs, which many students still do.

What kind of enrichment programmes/extracurricular activities are you currently in? How diverse are the activities offered in your university?

Like I said earlier, it might be difficult to find activities you want to participate in, but it is relatively easy to start an activity on your own. I am in the baking club, which a friend and I have started together, and I am doing a few theatre productions independent of any Yale-NUS theatre group.

How are the teaching styles and learning methods like compared to RJC? What kind of adjustments did you have to make and were there any challenges adapting to a different approach?

You’re left on your own a lot more, definitely. It’s a lot less guided. We also do a lot more books! If you are doing Literature, you probably spend about a semester on each book. For Literature classes here, we study a different book every two weeks or so, and requires a lot more reading. But after you finish your common curriculum classes, you get to choose all your classes! Which means you have the option to study things that you really really enjoy and care about, which is great.

Is the school population diverse?

Sure! While there are relatively more Singaporeans than foreigners, we have friends from all around the world. Also, in taking part in various extracurricular activities, you will definitely be exposed to those with different mindsets and it really teaches you to step out of your comfort zone to interact with people you aren’t familiar with!

What is your accommodation like? Do you live on-campus or off-campus?

I live on campus. It is compulsory for all Yale-NUS students to live on campus during their entire time in the college. Everyone lives in suites of four to six people, and gets their own room. The accommodation is really really nice. We really have it good.

An image of a room in Yale-NUS Residential College (Source)

In your opinion, what kind of student would thrive in Yale-NUS?

Any kind! The Yale-NUS community is very open and kind and everyone is so different. I know I’m supposed to say “intellectually curious” and stuff but I don’t think that’s true. There are people here who are just very interested and passionate in one thing, like film, for example, and don’t care so much about learning in all fields. There are also people who love academia! It’s all good.

Finally, is there any advice that you have for juniors who wish to apply for Yale-NUS?

Be sincere in your application. And good luck! (-:

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