Learning Minds Special

Going beyond academic pursuits

Going beyond academic pursuits
Photo: Charles Chua/ A Thousand Words
Tan Sheng Yao, 25, is glad to be studying at a university that exposes students to a wide range of subjects and social causes
Published: 7:30 AM, September 13, 2017
Updated: 7:30 AM, September 13, 2017

After completing his National Service in 2014, Tan Sheng Yao had planned to work for a couple of years before furthering his studies. 

“I didn’t meet the required cut-off points to enter the accountancy degree programmes of the three local universities at that time,” said the 25-year-old. 

But Sheng Yao changed his mind when he discovered that the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) had started a Bachelor of Accountancy programme.

The four-year direct-honours degree programme is recognised by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. The Singapore Accountancy Commission had also accredited graduates of this programme for direct entry to the Singapore CA Qualification — a programme that equips students with accountancy skills and knowledge to be a Chartered Accountant of Singapore.

Getting into SUSS

SUSS admission criteria does not focus purely on the candidate’s grades. It is based on a wide range of factors, which includes group interviews and aptitude assessments. 

“This improved my chances of getting a place in the accountancy programme,” said Sheng Yao.

Though he had studied accountancy in polytechnic, SUSS did not allow Sheng Yao any credit exemptions because the university believes that each module should be taught thoroughly to each student. This also gives students the opportunity to revise what they know and fill in any potential knowledge gaps.

An inclusive environment

SUSS has a small cohort that allows for smaller seminar groups and more interaction with the professors. Sheng Yao liked that everyone in the cohort knows one another as this creates an inclusive university environment.

“Students are also encouraged to participate in activities that fall outside their academic scope. For instance, we need to complete non-credit but compulsory programme components: Overseas experience, work attachment and service-learning to help us increase our awareness of social issues,” he said.

To fulfil the service-learning component, Sheng Yao volunteered at the Animals Lovers League, where he learnt about stray animals and the challenges faced by animal shelters.

Students in his programme also need to take Common Curriculum Courses as part of their core modules. These modules, which include World Histories and Issues, and Culture and Diversity, broaden their understanding of the world. 

“SUSS also has a career development team that helps us find work attachments and internships. To provide exposure to various industries, they organise networking sessions and workshops that allow us to interact with industry professionals,” said Sheng Yao.

Seizing opportunities

Thanks to the university’s Office of Student Life, Sheng Yao found out about the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) Academy Challenge — a competition that gets students to collaborate on a set of topics that could potentially shape the future of the financial industry and the economy. 

Although he found it daunting, he still decided to take part in this global competition to challenge himself. He had to submit a 400-word abstract on the future of politics and compete against degree holders from all over the world.

Luckily, the critical-thinking and essay-writing skills that he picked up during class came in handy. As SUSS provides students with a subscription to the Financial Times, he had content to draw from when writing the essay. 

He said: “I felt ready to handle the competition, thanks to help from three SUSS professors who acted as my mentors. The hard work paid off when I was shortlisted as one of the 20 global participants to move on to the second stage.”

What’s next

Sheng Yao plans to apply for internships during his final year to explore different industries and job scopes. 

“Since a career path is not linear, I will keep an open mind about job opportunities when I graduate next year,” he said.

This article is published in the Sept 2017 issue of The First Degree, a publication of TODAY, Mediacorp Press.

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