13 Graduates from NTU, NUS & SMU speak out: What I wished I had done while in university?

student regretting
3 or 4 years in university fly by in a flash, cherish your time here in this cushioned environment, the working world is harsh.

This is what all seniors will tell you, but few of them will tell you what they wish they had done while in university and what you need to do to ‘cherish your time’. Afterall, it’s painful to recall. Kind seniors will tell you their pitfalls so that you do not have the same regrets that they did. Here, we have gathered 13 of them from 3 universities, SMU, NTU and NUS, who are generous and honest enough to share with us what they wished they had done.

While in NTU Accountancy, I wished I had pursued my passion in school. For me, I admired the tales of successful entrepreneurs while they were still studying. For me, I was passionate in graphic designing, something that was 180-degrees different from what I was studying (Accountancy). I wanted to write my own children’s book but I was extremely afraid of challenges. This could probably arise from my risk-averse nature. That was why I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone and eventually decided to join the Big Four after I graduated.

Now, it comes to my realisation that school is not just the place for studies. In NTU, there is actually a lot of support from professors and courses that help students in fulfilling their entrepreneurial dreams and one good example is the Minor in Entrepreneurship course. Therefore, I really encourage those with awesome business ideas to make good use of their creativity and passion. Unlike what others say, I believe that the entrepreneurship mindset should be cultivated since young. As the quote says, “When the time is right, it will happen.”

– Winnie Wong, NTU Accountancy, 2014

My two-cents to juniors would be: take the opportunity to know some of your Professors better. I was rather shy in my first two years and did not dare to approach professors for a chat over coffee. Although some of them might be too busy, many Professors welcome the chance to interact with their students in smaller groups, so that they can share their wisdom with regards to life, industry, etc that they do not have time to share in class.

That said, personally, there is nothing more I wish I had done because I had assessed all opportunities that presented themselves, and made the best decisions with what I knew and within my capability. Universities offer so many opportunities that I came to understand that trade-offs between one track or another are often necessary, and if some opportunities are not for me to take, that’s ok.”

-Ivy Wah, SMU Business, 2014

This is my list of things I wished I did in NUS or regret not doing.

  • Work/visit all the faculties in NUS. I have mostly stuck in and around SoC and still haven’t visited a lot of places in NUS. Planning to take photos in each faculty of NUS.
  • Visit the science library
  • Make full use of the student discount in Just Asia, Subway, Co-Op, etc
  • Learn Japanese ( no need to wait for subtitles when a new anime episode is released..yaay! )
  • Still want to try CCAs like diving, hiking, etc. I signed up for them in the matric fair in my first year but somehow could not bring myself to go for their events.
  • I wanted to show off the 4000 points I had in CORS during my final semester. I used to curse the person who placed such high bids in my first and second year. However, since all my modules for the final semester were pre-allocated, I was unable to do so :(

-Inian Parameshwaran, NUS computer science, 2014

 Before entering NTU, I was excited about being a student in a world-class university with a vibrant campus life. I am fortunate to say that in my uni life, I have mostly done what I wished to do.  (click here to know more). But I have one thing that I wish I had done while in University which is work and travel! Yes, I went to Germany on the Global Summer Studies program, but working overseas is something different which I want to experience while I am still young and energetic(growing old now).

I heard about an NUS friend’s work and travel experience in the USA which was amazing and adventurous! Working with different people from different backgrounds and travelling to different parts of America sounds really exciting! Anyway, one day I will try it, before getting any older. (The opportunity is also open to people outside of school.)

– Ricky Tay, NTU Electrical & Electronic Engineering, 2012


I wished I had spent more time with my friends and family and not be so engrossed with school work.

-Faizal, SMU Information System, 2014

The one thing that I hope I would have done while in University is to go for Overseas CIP. While being too focused on study-related matters during the school-term is good, I guess it will also do one good to be able to let oneself see the world while he/she can and appreciate what we already have.

 I have been pretty absorbed with making sure that my CV looks good, so that I will be able to secure a better job, and have been going for internships when I can do so. I feel that doing something different would definitely enrich one’s life in a way that I will never be able to find out, so it’s for you to explore and hope all of you have a good time in University.

-Lian JiaHui, NUS Bachelor of Business Administration(Accountancy), 2014

 I had a very fruitful university life that there was nothing that I regretted not doing. But there are several things I would certainly feel regret for if I had not done them. First of all is the overseas volunteer trip to Vietnam which I had an eye-opening experience seeing how others in poverty live and how we could contribute to other people’s lives instead of just focusing on own pursuit for wealth and fame. It is a worthwhile trip in which you could meet a lot of other friends having fun and sufferings together while helping the poor people.

The second thing would be organizing orientation camp. Regardless of which position I held, it was a memorable and a great learning experience whereby one could be strengthened in many ways, for instance, in team working, leadership skill, communication skill as well as time management skills.

Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to do research under URECA program and I would encourage people to do so if they have the chance to. Under the guidance of the professor, you would need to independently publish a research paper from scratch and this research experience cultivates critical thinking, perseverance and discipline that would be important in our work and life.

-Sor Hong Yuen, NTU Psychology, 2013

I would say having more free time to attend some of the seminars and events that were organized and available in school such as innovation and entrepreneurship seminars, investing seminars etc. Due to the heavy workload during school term, it is difficult to find time to attend these stuffs. Most of the events will have special guests to bring us insights about the working environment which is beyond what we can learn from our classes in school. Thus, it will be very valuable to be able to attend these events to gain knowledge regarding a particular field that we are going to work in the future.

In addition, these events will also help to create the network to connect to future colleagues or employers. But the problem here is, during school terms, we have little time to attend these events as there will be so many projects, tests and exams etc. Thus, maybe to allow us to have more time, the school could make the less related modules (to the major that you are in) such as electives much easier.

– Khoo Wen Hai, SMU Business, 2014

student exchange program

Reminiscing my 3 years in university, there was indeed 1 thing that I felt regretful for not being able to experience. It was the international student exchange program! Due to my playful personality, I have to admit that I spent a lot of time playing instead of studying, thus, my result was not good enough for me to apply for an exchange program. I had a chance to meet a few exchange students who came to Singapore for exchange and I truly envy them for being able to embark on a new journey of experiencing uni life in a foreign country, making new friends and tasting all the real good local food! Thus, if I were given a chance for going through the uni time again, I would definitely want to try out the exchange program!

-Sher Tian Liew, NUS Business, 2009

To better tap on the opportunities available in school to improve my craft. I have always been interested in content creation & publishing and contemplated joining the team in NTU running Nanyang Chronicles, the school magazine. I procrastinated and pushed it back time and again. More ‘important’ things came up along the way and I forgot about this original desire.

As a blogger and content publisher now, I wished I had gained the practical experience of running a school magazine by tapping on this opportunity provided by the school. My job now would have been easier.  Likewise, there are many other clubs or activities in school that allow us to explore our interest without any costs, regardless of the field you are looking at- consulting, HR, marketing, public speaking or religion, so start searching for one that suits u.

-Ted Chong, NTU Business(IT) , 2014

Focus on GPA especially in year 1. This will give u a great foundation and open up more opportunities later on. While GPA might not be everything, without a good GPA it means u are nothing. Because thats how students are ultimately being judged

-Tan Kwan Hong, SMU Economics, 2013

 One thing I really wish I had done was gone for (at least applied for)NUS Overseas College (NOC). 

NOC is an amazing program that sends students on a 6-month or 1-year long experience to one of 8 locations: India/Israel (6 months), Beijing/Shanghai/Stockholm/New York/San Francisco/Philadelphia (1 year), where they get to experience working in a startup while taking classes concurrently at the partnered university there (the latter part isn’t applicable to the 6-month programs). The aim of the program is to allow wannabe entrepreneurs to develop their interest by getting their hands dirty with real entrepreneurial work. The courses they need to take concurrently also allow them to opt for a minor in Technopreneurship.

I was part of the iLEAD program, which is also under the larger body of NOC, and loved the experience. It’s similar to NOC, except that we stayed on in Singapore itself for the 6-month long program. At the end of the program, we went on an Overseas Study Mission (OSM) to Santiago, Chile for two weeks to get a glimpse of the entrepreneurial scene there.

remembering the senior days

The reason I couldn’t apply for NOC is because it requires prior planning unless you don’t mind extending your graduation by a semester or a year. I was completely unaware of any of these programs when I joined NUS so I couldn’t map out my modules without having to extend my graduation (which I really didn’t want to do). I’m still lucky that I found out about iLEAD just in time to apply during the late application period and am glad to have been a part of it because it changed not just my life at NUS, but also my outlook on life.

-Shibanshu Mukhopadhyay, NUS Life Sciences (Molecular and Cell Biology), 2014

Joining  NTU open house. I have been wanting to join that since year 2. But during year 2, I had cca commitments and then in year 3, the interview timings didn’t match my schedule. Ntu open house is the event that is opened up to all A-levels graduates, for them to come and take a look and understand more about the different University courses.

What is exciting about that to me, is that I am very keen to participate as a student facilitator. Perhaps to bring those visitors around NTU and introduce NTU to them. Or perhaps to share with them more about NBS in every aspect. That was what I wanted to play a part in initially. So I would say, that’s basically the only and biggest regret I had in University.

-Ang  Shihui, NTU Business (Banking & Finance), 2014

 I bet this must have been an eye-opener for you and you have never imagined that there are so many opportunities available in the university! Neither did the seniors! Many of them realize it only when they are about to graduate or have graduated. In order to tap on all these opportunities, one needs to begin planning at the start of their university life. In Digital Senior, our mission is to minimize your regrets and maximize your experience in university life by bringing you senior insights!

Happy Juniors

Is there any warning that the seniors have missed out? Do you have any question regarding any of the responses by the seniors? Please share in the comment box below. Please like and share this roundup post with your friends as well. We so appreciate your continued input on these important topics because it helps to shape the future of DigitalSenior content. We’re here to serve your interests; we’re building this resource together. We look forward to connecting with you!




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