Life at PSB Academy: A Quick Look at The Student Experience

When it comes to looking at options for higher education, prestige and reputation are no longer the only criteria by which you should select your dream school. What’s just as crucial is getting a sense of how the student and school life will bring out the best in you and ensure you thrive (or not) in the classroom and beyond. Digital Senior got the chance to check out PSB’s newly-reopened Marina Square campus during its 2017 open house, and here’s what we gathered about the kind of experience you will get as a PSB student.

Image Credit: PSB Academy
Image Credit: PSB Academy

1. You’ll be discussing and collaborating all the time

Walking past the reception area and entering the campus proper, the first thing you would see would be a broad, grassy circle with steps upon which students are sprawled, chatting in small groups – the town hall. With drop-down screens concealed in the ceiling and spaces for performances, the town hall is a place for presentations and events, but also for students to hang out and have lively discussions.

The next thing you might notice is the sheer amount of writable walls in the open areas around the town hall and throughout the rest of the campus – these are break-out spaces where students can brainstorm and doodle their ideas.

These unusual facilities reflect PSB’s ethos of creating a culture where students can have vibrant debates even outside the classroom. As they say, learning never stops, and it’s clear that at PSB you’ll get the chance to practise continual learning and engagement – skills that’re becoming more crucial than ever in today’s fast-changing economy.

Inside the classroom, there’s a similar focus on collaborative and discussion-based learning – again, the four walls are writable! We got to see this emphasis on informal discussion in action when we dropped in on the sample classes being conducted during the open house. Rather than a professor lecturing to a sea of silent students, we sat around tables in small groups to discuss ideas, led by friendly professors. The overall atmosphere was fun and dynamic, a vibe in which you’d feel comfortable sharing your thoughts.

Image Credit: Fotolia
Image Credit: Fotolia

Of course, this method of learning has its pros and cons – local students, in particular, might take a while to adapt to being active and outspoken in class, and some of us might simply learn better from conventional styles of teaching. But there’s no doubt that speaking up is hugely important in the workplace, as is being a team player and communicating well with colleagues. Rather than stressing out about this in your first job, you’ll be picking up these skills in a safe environment as a PSB student.

2. Your views will be heard

Image Credit: Officevibe
Image Credit: Officevibe

How many of us can say we go to a school where student feedback is prized? Digital Senior got the chance to tour the campus with Marcus Loh, Vice-President of Marketing and Corporate Communication at PSB Academy, who told us about some decisions still under review due to the brand-new Marina Square facilities – for example, the possibility of having the Life and Physical Sciences students utilise both the labs at PSB’s Delta campus and the classrooms in the City Campus. When asked if students might find the commute troublesome, Marcus’ answer was clear and unhesitating: “If they find it difficult, then we won’t do it.”

As students, many of us have probably had the frustrating experience of reaching out to school authorities and feeling that our feedback was disappearing directly into the spam folder. There’s nothing more reassuring than knowing that we have a say in how our school is run. At PSB, students are easily able to make their views heard by dropping feedback at either a designated electronic portal or the Student Services Centre – or, of course, striking up a friendly conversation with staff. According to Marcus, the management team convenes each Tuesday for a meeting at which each and every piece of student feedback is discussed.

3. You’ll get the financial help you need

Image Credit: The Irish News
Image Credit: The Irish News

As we all know, higher education fees are sky-high, and even with study loans available, getting a degree usually means being saddled with debt worth tens of thousands of dollars. Given that it’s often students from underprivileged backgrounds that are thus deterred from getting a degree and climbing the economic ladder, it’s really commendable that PSB is taking steps to make education the social leveller it should be.

One of the events we saw at the open house was PSB’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with various self-help groups for the Eurasian, Malay/Muslim and Indian communities in Singapore – the Eurasian Association, MENDAKI, and SINDA respectively. Members of these groups will now be able to receive scholarships from a fund of $2.7 million to study full-time or part-time at PSB Academy over the next three years.

The CEOs of SINDA, The Eurasian Association, and MENDAKI posing with Mr Viva Sinniah, Executive Chairman of PSB Academy, and Mr Derrick Chang, Acting CEO of PSB Academy, following the signing.

    The CEOs of SINDA, The Eurasian Association, and MENDAKI posing with Mr Viva Sinniah, Executive Chairman of PSB Academy, and Mr Derrick Chang, Acting CEO of PSB Academy, following the signing.

We often say nowadays that a degree can’t guarantee you a good job, but this also implies that a degree has become the bare minimum for you to get one foot in the door for many jobs. PSB’s many scholarship and financial aid opportunities mean that students won’t need to lose out on a chance to pursue their dream majors and careers due to financial difficulties.

4. You’ll become industry-ready

Industry-readiness is the buzzword of today’s economic climate. Most of us would have heard about the acute skills gap between what students are learning and what the industry needs in sectors like engineering and IT. This means that more than ever, you should be looking out for a school that equips you with the right skills to handle a fast-changing industry.

Digital Senior had the pleasure of speaking to Derrick Chang, Acting CEO of PSB Academy, during the open house, who assured us that PSB’s pedagogy is all about shifting away from pure theory towards training students in practical problem-solving. Rather than simply absorbing engineering and scientific concepts, for example, students would be asked to apply their knowledge to the creation of a water-carrying robot able to get across a desert terrain. Through this strong practical approach, you can be confident that you won’t get a rude shock upon entering the world of industry.

As a PSB student, you’ll also benefit from a smooth transition between school and the working world. One of the booths we noticed at the open house was the PSB Academy Career Portal booth, where a friendly staff introduced us to this employment portal designed for PSB students to post their CV and apply for jobs directly.

Even before applying for jobs proper, PSB students can benefit from extensive exposure to professionals in their field, via their student chapters’ tie-ups with industry partners. Engineering students, for example, can join the IET On-campus Student Chapter, while business students automatically become IPRS Student Chapter members. And according to PSB, plans for a series of industry talks are currently in the works. Known as CollabX, these bi-monthly talks will feature speakers from key corporations, giving students an invaluable chance to network and find out more about their dream careers.

With all this emphasis on preparing its students for the real world, it’s no surprise that they’re highly employable. According to independent research consultancy idstats, almost nine in ten PSB students were able to find permanent or temporary employment within six months of graduation.

5. You’ll get to use the latest technology

PSB terms itself the “Future Academy”, and at the open house, we got a glimpse of the kinds of snazzy, futuristic technology that you’ll be able to learn with as a student at PSB.

In the photo above, you can see one of the virtual reality stations that we got to try out. With the donning of a VR headset, what looks like a simple plank on the floor turned into a terrifyingly precarious plank jutting out from the top of a skyscraper. Imagine walking out on a thin piece of wood over a dizzying abyss, seeing the 500-ft drop to the city roads beneath your feet… and then being instructed to jump off the end. No amount of mental screaming will be able to convince your mind that it’s just hyper-vivid VR.

Trying out Virtual Reality!

That’s the kind of novel, high-tech experience that PSB students will have, incorporated into their courses in order to make learning more immediate and hands-on. For example, life sciences students will potentially make use of VR technology so as to simulate the experience of being in the human body.

Another VR station, where small cubes labelled with the names of chemical elements like copper and sulfur were transformed into virtual boxes containing those elements on the iPad.

6. You’ll be immersed in a vibrant campus culture

You know what they say about student life in university – it all comes down to what you make of it. PSB’s vibrant student life came through strongly at the open house, where we had the pleasure of watching several dance groups and bands performing, with friends and supporters crowding the front-row seats to cheer for them. Current students also had no qualms about turning up on a Saturday to help out and tour the campus.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience getting to see life at PSB Academy first-hand, thanks to the welcoming staff and students, and to the many interesting activities being showcased. If you’d like to get a look at the PSB student experience yourself, both the City Campus and the Delta campus are highly worth a visit!

Questions ? Simply go to PSB Academy’s Facebook page and shoot them an enquiry!

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Jolene Hee
An English Literature major from NUS, Jolene writes because she fears that what doesn’t fall upon a page doesn’t make a sound. When she’s not attempting to drown herself in books, she can be found volunteering, museum-hopping, and sweating it out in the dance studio.

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