5 Major Differences Between Singapore and Top UK/US Universities


East or West?

If you are searching for a place for higher education, you need not worry so much about distance. With slightly more than twenty hours of flight, you can reach any part of the world. Singapore stands out as a popular place for higher education in the East, while American and Britain are go-to countries for universities in the West. Should you go East or West? Let Digital Senior give you some direction.


Let us talk about the grandest aspect for comparison: the systems. The American education system is famous for its flexibility. One can easily opt for a second major or even a third major for his/her bachelor’s degree. Students can also graduate faster than normal, especially for those who want to save part of their high tuition fee. If you go for a liberal arts college, the quintessential American institution for higher education, you will have even more freedom to choose courses, as there is little restriction as to what you may choose and how many you choose. The European education system, particularly that of the UK, is much less flexible. One can only apply for an additional major if the university approves that, and students taking a third major are almost unheard of. One has to declare a major that he/she wants to pursue upon entry into a university, unlike the situation in the US where one can spend one year in university exploring different subjects without committing to a particular major. The Singapore universities are more like the UK universities. However, there are increasing trend to introduce more American elements. For example, the universities in Singapore have been giving much freedom for students to choose modules outside their degree programs. The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) allows students to take one year of common curriculum before declaring a major. The Yale-NUS College is also the first liberal arts college in Asia. There has been increasing variety of choices in Singapore.

Professional degrees

However, the American universities are not always more flexible than universities in other places. They generally do not offer undergraduate programs in professional degrees, such as law and medicine. Even for business, many top schools (with the notable exception of the Wharton Business School) do not offer business programs for undergraduate students. If you intend to go for such fields in the US, you have to take related subjects first and apply for master’s degrees later. In the UK, some universities offer such programs, such as the law schools in Cambridge. Similarly, you can also take medicine and law in Singapore while the business degree is hugely popular and rather accessible to undergraduate students. If you can’t wait for the master’s program, going for the UK or Singapore is a good choice. If you are not sure of your career decision, exploring your interest in a US university is a wise move.

Culture and Identity

Culture and Identity

Moreover, living a university life is more than study. Culture is equally important. In terms of the identity of universities, the American and the British ones do much better than the Singapore universities. Most universities in western countries come with long tradition, with special architectures that have stories of their own. Each university mostly has its own identity and quirkiness that differentiates itself from the rest. The Singapore universities, in contrast, have shorter history and have yet to form a distinct identity of their own. Most buildings on campus are functional and modern. If you are easily drawn by the cultural aspect of an institution, going for the West may be a better choice.

How do you Make Friends?

Other than history, universities also differ in terms of the social environment. American students, as we all know, are more open. They are frank with their emotions. Night clubs, fraternity or other social events are full of “hyper” people. In contrast, the Singapore students are more reserved, influenced by the Asian values. Night clubs are less common on campus as a way of socializing. Students are also less vocal in class, unless class participation marks are critical to the final grade that one gets. Lastly, student populations in the US and the UK are more diverse than those in Singapore. The entire world wants to go for top schools in America and Britain while most foreign students admitted to Singapore universities are from Asia.

How Much Do you Pay?

Lastly let us talk about cost. The US is famous for its expensive higher education. The four years of total expenses have reached around USD 30K and they are still rising steadily. In the UK, while annual expenses may be similar with the US ones, most programs in UK universities are three-year in duration, which effectively reduces one’s total expenditure. In Singapore, the total expenses do not go beyond 20K. With generous government tuition grant, which comes with three-year bond for an international student to work for three years in Singapore, one can expect around USD 10K total expenditure.

Should you go East or go West? Hope the analysis above has given you a clearer picture. You need to find a place where your personality fits perfectly and your talent flourishes. If the world is your chessboard, make the right first move for your higher education has strategic significance.

3 Untapped Ways of Improving your Chances of Staying in the Hall


A Game for Hall Points

It seems that the problem of land scarcity has found its way into the universities in Singapore. The construction of new residential halls does not match the more rapid increase in student population, many of them needing a place to stay on campus. To solve the problem, universities, typically NTU and NUS, have come up with the hall point system where students bid for a place in a hall according to the amount of hall points they have. And the hall points are tied to one’s CCA commitment. Suddenly, CCA takes on a new meaning unfound in pre-university institutions. It is not just a place to pursue interest and passion. It goes all the way down the Maslow pyramid of needs from the section of “the need for achievement” all the way down to the bottom: the basic need of a shelter.

By no means Digital Senior is suggesting that you run the risk of sleeping on the street. If you are a local student, living on campus is more for the convenience and fun of a residential life. If you are an international student, there is a mature market of off-campus accommodations that you can search online. But since living on campus gives you some unique benefits, it may be worth it to try to get a place in a hall. As the competition for hall points gets stronger, Digital Senior is here to give you some tips on how to more efficiently secure the points you need.

Not all clubs are ‘equal’

If you don’t know yet, clubs in a university are classified according to tiers. The classification is based on certain metrics, such as the size of the club. The tier is a critical factor that you need to check first, as the same kind of position, say a Vice-president, is awarded with different hall points for clubs in different tiers. Everything else being equal, you should join a club at a higher tier to maximize the points that you get in the end. And of course, different commitment level within the same club is also awarded with different points. A President gets very different amount of points from a member of a club. Therefore you should also aim for higher leadership position, as most of the points are given based on one’s leadership position in a club. If the tier of your club is not high enough, or your position in a club is not high enough, you may get a nominal amount of hall points that are far from sufficient for you to stand a realistic chance of getting a room. One point to note is that your hall points are not cumulative. Your final hall points are given by the single activity that gives you the highest points. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Special opportunities

While joining a club and moving on to higher leadership position may be the track most people will take, there are opportunities lying elsewhere. One of them is to join special committees. Many events held in university are not organized by one particular club. They may be organized based on the initiative of some individuals or alliance of a few clubs. Prior to organizing such events, the organizers will usually hold recruitment drive open to all students. One special thing about such committees is that your commitment level on average will not be as high as a club member. You may be busy during the period the event is being organized, but you don’t have to work hard throughout the year to earn hall points. For those who don’t have much time to devote to CCA and yet want to have hall points, don’t miss the opportunities. But such opportunities are easy to miss. Recruitment for such event committees is mostly done via emails, campus posters or even words of mouth. They may not have a booth during CCA fair where you can leave your contact. So read your school emails regularly, don’t dismiss a poster by the lift and ask around for opportunities among your friends.

Get recommended!


Lastly, since freshmen are guaranteed a place in a hall, you can also leverage on your network in your hall. You can join hall committee that is responsible for running activities on a hall level. Besides having fun with your hall mates, you can also showcase your leadership capability to your seniors who will recommend you to stay in the original hall. If you have proven yourself to be an asset to others, who would want you to leave? Moreover, if you don’t wish to join your hall committee, you can still choose to participate in hall or inter-hall games. If you can bring home the trophy for your hall, you stand a good chance of being recommended to stay in the hall next year. In a word, just show others that you are unique and irreplaceable.

At the end of the day, hall points may just be one of the many considerations for you to decide on a CCA to join. Some students are fully enjoying themselves in a club that does not give them hall points. If you realize the club you want to join the most is the one that doesn’t give you enough hall points, you can consider joining an additional club that gives you sufficient points. Finding a balance is the key.


Your University Experience is defined by more than just grades



henry tang

Shared by: Henry Tang Ji Rui, Singapore Management University, Year 3

More than a year ago, I wonder what I would like to achieve in my remaining 3 years in Singapore Management University, School of Information Systems (SMU SIS). This thought came into mind when I realized that I was just caught in a rat race like many others around me, whom are chasing after grades, internships and what not (typical life of a SMU student).

So considering that I was a sleeping member of a couple of CCAs, I decided to find more purpose in my University life rather than just studying. And then there was the usual advice from seniors where you have to join this CCA or that CCA and hold positions so that it helps in your resume. Hm.. Sounds familiar? Being the naive and eager freshman that I was then, it definitely made perfect sense to me, and so I started to look around at the more impressive CCAs in SMU. Along the way. things changed.

But what really gave me the strongest motivation to run for student leadership in SIS, was because of the tremendous opportunities that I had in SIS, and the faith that my fellow friends (few of which became my comrades in SMU Information Systems Society) had in me then. Having seen friends around me going through late nights, and having lives relatively tougher than that of the other schools, I would really hope to improve the student lives and environment that we have. I started thinking of ways to give back and one fine day, one of my Profs asked me, “Why don’t you run for SISS?”

This question came out of nowhere, leaving me with no time to come up with a response other than,“I’ll think about it..” And so I started thinking, and thinking, and thinking.. Many a time, we often doubt our own capabilities as to whether we are up to the task or fit for the role etc. Trust me, I’m no different from you. And after I got over that hurdle, this other part of me raised the alarm, “Will my grades suffer? Will it be worth it?” I’m pretty sure this comes across many of your minds whenever you think of running for student leadership positions. But eventually, after much deliberation and thoughts, I told myself that school is more than just grades (no doubt that grades get you somewhere). Having said that, it was a conscious decision that I made, knowing that being in the Management Committee of a school CBd will definitely allow you to meet and know more people, within and beyond SMU itself (part of networking once again).

So I grabbed a few friends and started proposing this idea of running for SISS, and I guess the rest was history.

henry tang 1
Election Campaigning

Throughout the year when I was holding the portfolio, it was a constant rush to meet deadlines after deadlines, and going for meetings after meetings. The journey wasn’t easy, and it was made tougher by the amount of red tape involved, as well as the kind of people that I have to deal with. But I can safely say that, 2013 was definitely my most eventful year in SMU. Looking back, I gained more than just friends and network, but also valuable experience where if you choose to be like any other student, you will never get to experience such. No doubt, behind all the fame and glory (or shame and confessions) – grades will suffer, friends will say you always pangseh them, and you will keep saying that people bo jio! Truth be told, student leadership in SMU could be better appreciated, but even if the system stays as such, your journey is best defined by how you choose to walk it. So for those whom are contemplating stepping up to run for portfolios the next round, hesitate no more and do your part in making SMU a better place.

So after all these, many have asked me what my take on leadership is, and what makes a good leader? And my response, as well as my greatest takeaway about leadership was from attending an address by Daw Ann San Suu Kyi.



What makes you run for leadership roles in school? We welcome all undergraduates to share your story with us here.

5 Reasons Why you Should Consider a Singapore University

In this globalized world, studying abroad is no big news anymore. It has become a choice of many families, especially those that are located in countries whose education systems are not considered among the best in the world. There have also emerged a few popular overseas study destinations, such as the United States or the UK. While the mere size of those countries is enough to attract people’s attention, Singapore, a tiny nation in South East Asia, is a quieter competitor in the global education arena. For people who make an effort to do research on this nation, they will realize that Singapore is not just a garden city. It is also a regional education hub attracting thousands of foreign students who enjoy quality education here. Will you be one of them?


The most obvious indicator of the quality of education offered by a university is the ranking of the university. The universities in Singapore fare quite well in this respect. The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are both ranked top 100 in the world. While the other two universities do not have international ranking because they are not comprehensive universities, they still enjoy respectable ranking by subjects. Rest assured that you will study in one of the best institutions of higher learning if you choose a university in Singapore.

Quality of education

Of course, we need to look beyond mere ranking. The universities offer quality learning experiences by building state-of-the-art facilities and respected academic staff. As the Singapore government wants to develop the country as the top destination of higher education in Asia, it has pumped in generous resources to support the development of local universities. With generous funding, you learn in an environment with low student/teacher ratio that is comparable to top universities in other countries; you will also have access to various special programs for your personal development. Don’t be surprised if you run into a tutorial class where one professor is teaching fewer than twenty students.
Quality of Education

Diversity of education

Other than good quality of education, you can find your niche in the increasingly diverse local education scene. The education systems in Singapore include the conventional lecture-tutorial style and the seminar-based participatory style. With the establishment of the Yale-NUS College, Singapore has the first liberal arts college in Asia, offering a learning environment where the pursuit of knowledge is considered the highest enjoyment. Moreover, it is true that Singapore is a place where east meets west. The universities here combine the British education style of using final exams as a method of assessment with the American education style of using continuous assessment of project works and presentations. While some professional programs, such as law and medicine, are not offered to undergraduate students in many western countries, you can study them in Singapore for the bachelor’s degree. Of course, the bar is high and it is even higher for foreign students.


Probably one of your top concerns, or rather that of your parents, is cost. Singapore’s universities are ‘cost-efficient’: you can study in a world renowned university without paying the same price as you would if you go to a similar university in other countries. The total expenses for studying in the US are around USD 30k; it takes almost only half of that to do the same in Singapore. Moreover, with the tuition grant from the government that subsidizes half of the tuition fee, you will save even more. But if you decide to apply for tuition grant, you are required to work in a company registered in Singapore for three years. If you plan to move to another place quickly after your study in Singapore, applying for tuition grant may not be a good option.

Finding a job afterwards

An important aim of university education is to help you get a good job. If you decide to work in Singapore, studying in a Singapore university can be a wise choice. While there are many good companies here, there is only limited number of universities for employers to choose from. While they can always recruit globally, they would still prefer local people to form the majority of the workforce. While many major economies are still in the wake of recession that makes work visa application difficult, Singapore is one of the only few bright spots where growth is taking place. If you are a graduate from a Singapore university, you are well placed to find a good job if you are willing to work hard. However, if you intend to work in other places outside Asia, a degree from a Singapore university may not give you as much an edge as a degree from institutions such as Harvard, Yale or Cambridge that have become household names.
Singapore is generally considered a good choice of studying overseas. Ask yourself why you want to study overseas and check if Singapore can give you what you want. One last point, don’t forget to pass English qualifying tests, such as IELST or TOEFL, as they are needed for you to apply for a university here.

Does CCA Do you More Harm than Good? Should You Join?

Photographer: Shho
How important is CCA? Should you join one or more of the campus clubs or activities? While CCA has been said to be an important part of a student’s life, nothing is absolute. There are circumstances where not joining a CCA is the best choice, just like other circumstances where heavy commitment outside study seems to be ideal. Which circumstance do you fall into? Let Digital Senior elaborate on that.

CCA or study?

The most obvious tradeoff is between CCA and your grade. We all have only 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Participating in a school club or activity definitely takes a portion of the time available from you. Very often students sacrifice their study time for CCA. While most of the activities normally end two weeks before the final exams start, students may still find it difficult to catch up with one semester of work in different subjects. More importantly, a large number of university modules use Continuous Assessment (CA) plus the final exams. Students who are busy during the semester often find it challenging to find time to revise to quizzes or mid-term papers, which may pull down their scores for their finals in the end. Hence if you realize that CCA eats into too much of your time, or you realize that reducing your commitment in CCA can substantially boost your grades, you may want to prioritize study over CCA.

Does CCA Do More Harm than Good?

Why study?

Why? Isn’t CCA about holistic development that should be as important as study? We agree with that idea, but would like to suggest that holistic development is based upon students meeting minimum academic threshold. The threshold you face depends on your circumstances. For all university students, they need to maintain an average passing grade to be allowed to progress to the next academic year. If you are a scholarship holder, you need to maintain a GPA that is much higher than the university passing grade. If you want to apply for graduate studies, you need to maintain a respectable grade to be admitted to a good graduate program. If you are applying for a job, you also need to reach the minimum GPA that you future employers are looking for. Hence check your circumstance and know the minimum grade that you need to reach. If you fall short of the requirement, do spend more time on study.

Sometimes CCA may also help you study in an indirect way. If you go to a university that requires students to bid for a place in its residential hall by hall points, CCA becomes very important. Most likely, hall points are given according to one’s CCA commitment, such as the tier of the club one is in or the leadership position one is holding. Generally speaking, greater commitment translates into greater hall points. In a word, if you spend more time for CCA, you are more likely to get a place in a hall. Living in a hall offers you great advantages especially if you live far away from campus. The traveling time saved can well be spent on more study (provided that you choose to use the extra time for study). Since you are traveling every day during the weekday and your CCA mostly does not happen on five days, you stand a net gain in time. But do look into the specifics of your situation. If you live near your university and your CCA requires unusually high commitment, such as some sports club or performing arts club that require even training on weekend, the balance may change.

How about leadership positions?

Joining a club as a member may not take up too much of your time, but how much higher leadership positions? Holding a leadership position demands higher time commitment and gives you higher stress as you are responsible for the running of the club. However, it also gives you higher hall points. If you plan to apply for a place in hall, it is advisable that you take up leadership position of some sort, as being a member seldom gives one enough points. If you fall short of the minimum points that you need, you may wait sometimes up to one semester to get a room, almost defeating the purpose of applying for hall.

If you decide to take up leadership position, you may wish to consider the following:

  • Doing something you like makes you do better and you naturally enjoy greater responsibility.
  • If you do not have preferences, try to look for larger clubs that give you more varied experiences and more hall points.
  • Lastly, be involved in the club where you want to take up leadership position while you are in year one or year two. It takes time for you to show your ability and commitment to be a leader.

(If you just join a club in your year three, most likely people are not convinced that you are a suitable candidate for important leadership positions. On your side, you may be busy with final year project or finding a job or internship towards more senior years of your study. Your energy and ambition to be involved in a school club may also diminish. )

While CCA is an important part of your education, it is never an absolute good. It can be put aside for a greater good. Do a balanced analysis as to whether you should join a CCA and how involved you should be.

What Every Student Ought to Know: Calculating GPA


GPA: what are you made of?

In university, your academic result will be summarized by a magic number that is called the GPA, the Grade Point Average (In NUS, the GPA is called the CAP, the Cumulative Average Point). It may sound unfamiliar to you now, but that single digit number will accompany you during your 3-4 years of study and has a lot of impact on your life in the near future. Do you want to get a high GPA in university? If you do, then the first step is to understand the system in which GPA is calculated so that you can take the best advantage of it to maximize your result.

Two components of GPA

To calculate GPA, you need to know only two things: the number of credit the modules carry and the grades you get for the modules you choose. Essentially the four universities in Singapore use the same way of calculating GPA, with minor differences among them. The university education is module-based where you choose a number of required modules for completion during one semester. Each module carries certain number of credit and the credit usually corresponds to the number of lesson hours for that module every week. For example, if you take a module that carries 3 credits, you are required to attend 3 hours of that lesson every week. Moreover, after the final exams results are released, you will get a grade for each module and the grade usually ranges from A+ to A, B+, B, B-, C+ etc. Now you need to check the corresponding GPA point for the grade you get. For example, in universities other than SMU, getting A+ or A gives you 5.0, getting B+ gives you 4.0, with each grade occupying a half point range. In SMU, the situation is slight different. Since their maximum GPA is 4.0, getting A gives you 4.0, getting A- gives you 3.7 and so on. Now that you know both credit and grade, let us do the final math. You need to times the GPA point for each module by the number of credit the modules carry, sum them together and finally divide the sum by the sum of total number of credits you have taken for the whole semester.

For example?

Well, here is an example for you to better visualize it. Let’s say you take 5 modules for one semester, and you get the grades of A+, A, A, B+, B-. If we follow the NTU system as an example, your GPA points for the five modules are 5.0, 5.0, 5.0, 4.5, 3.5. The first four modules carry 3 credits each while the last one carries 4 credits. So your final GPA for that semester is (5.0*3+5.0*3+5.0*3+4.5*3+3.5*4)/(3+3+3+3+4)=4.53. Did you get the same number? And a quick note on GPA calculation in SMU. In SMU, each module usually carries 1 credit, though 1 credit there corresponds to 3 hours of lesson time each week. So you just need to substitute in the formula with different numbers. Nothing substantial is changed.

Which class are you from?

Now that you get the number of 4.53, what does it really mean? To interpret your GPA, you need to another concept that is called “class”. A class is a method of differentiating students based on their academic results. The highest class is called the first class, followed by the second upper class and the second lower class. Out of the maximum of 5.0, 4.5 and above is considered the first class, 4.0-4.5 is considered the second upper and so on. So if you get the GPA you just calculated, which class do you fall under? Yes, you are in the first class. Again, SMU is a bit different. Out of the maximum of 4.0, 3.8 and above is summa cum laude, the equivalence of the first class, 3.60-3.79 is the magna cum laude and so on.

Overall GPA

You may be wondering how you should calculate GPA over several semesters. That is a fair question. In fact, the GPA you obtain for one semester is called CGPA (Continuous GPA). Your GPA over several semesters, or the final GPA that you will graduate with, is the average of all the CGPAs that you have.
Overall GPA
Having a good GPA is important in many respects. Getting a higher class makes you more attractive to employers and is a huge plus if you plan to apply for graduate studies. Many opportunities in university, such as going for exchange or applying for mid-term scholarship or special programs, take your GPA into account when selecting candidates. In NUS where there is no direct honor system, your GPA at the end of your year 3 study determines if you can graduate with honor that differentiates you from the rest.
As you can see, GPA is more than a number. It actually means a lot to you. It is good that you now know in detail how GPA is calculated so you have a big picture of the academic study in university in mind. The next thing that you need to do is to work hard and work smart.

Click here on SMU GPA system.

Click here on NTU GPA calculation that is the same for NUS and SUTD.
Calculate Your Target GPA NOW!


Step out of your comfort zone, embrace the unknown



Shared by: James Lai Sisheng,  Nanyang Technological University, Year 3

Last year, I had the privilege of going to Amsterdam for an exchange semester. I managed to travel around Europe, some of which are touristy places and some rather off the track. It was indeed an eye opening experience, not because of the numerous countries I have ticked off my checklist but mainly because of the amazing people and places I have come across. Here are just some lessons I have learnt along my journey in Europe and would like to share.

1. Be a traveller, not a tourist

Try new things, eat local food and meet new people. Do something that scares you. It’s okay not to have that perfect shot of you in front of Eiffel Tower. It’s alright not to instagram every meal you had. Not having Wi-fi for a week will not kill you. I was guilty of eating McDonalds on a few occasions too. It’s not necessary to go to every tourist site that your guidebook recommends; sometimes the best way to enjoy a town could be just taking a slow walk around or having some beers with locals in an underground tavern.

2. Stay in hostels when possible

Hostels are not only perfect for the budget conscious but it is a melting pot of culture in itself. I had the chance to meet so many amazing people, learn about their stories that I would not have if I chose to stay in a hotel. Hostels usually have a common area which makes meeting and befriending new people so much easier. Couchsurfing is also an excellent idea as you get to meet people who know the city. My only couchsurfing experience in Riga was a great one as our friendly host really took care of us and showed us his city. In hindsight, I would have couchsurfed more if my travel schedule was more well-planned.

Locals we met in Croatia!
Locals we met in Croatia!

 3. Meet locals and learn their language

Not everyone in Europe speaks English and in fact the majority don’t. That is not a bad thing actually as it makes for some interesting situations. I cringe whenever tourists get upset when servers in restaurants don’t speak English. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans. Learn a few basic phrases like “hello”, “thank you” and “cheers” and you will soon realise how friendly locals can be to foreigners. Some laughter is bound to ensue because of your funny accent! One important lesson I have learnt is most people have a friendly side to them, if we are genuine in getting to know them, they will be more than happy to open up to you.

 To sum it all, for me the best way to enjoy travelling is always to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the unknown. The world is so big and each place is unique and special in its own way waiting for us to discover.


Embarked on an exchange before? Interesting insights to share? Share your experience with us here.

Know Thy Analytics Major


Kean Kwok

Shared by: Kean Kwok, Singapore Management University, Year 3

Every School of Information Systems (SIS) student in Singapore Management University (SMU) has to decide on a 2nd major and with over twenty choices to choose from, it can be a tough decision. I kept switching between choices, undecided on what my final choice will be. Should I choose a IS 2nd major and continue to torture myself alongside other notoriously intensive IS core mods and Final Year Project? Or should I choose a relatively easier non-IS major and have an easier life in my remaining years in SMU? I can improve my GPA too! What a tempting choice. I was close to deciding on Strategic Management, a safe choice and sounds useful too, I can develop skills on how to develop businesses and strategies and learn how to manage employees and operations, though it felt rather intangible and delve more on breadth than depth. I wanted something that can add value to my degree. Then this summer internship came that broaden my horizon and change my 2nd major choice significantly.

I had the opportunity to intern at a new start-up specialising in analytics that exploits big data opportunities by providing consulting and technology services to businesses to enable them to make smart decisions. Analytics is a new and emerging field, every company big or small has data, but not many staff knows how to make use of it to yield valuable insights and enhance business. On the first day, I sat in front of my work desk marvelling at a live ship map tracking ship locations real time. I learnt that this company forte is in maritime analytics. Big Data opportunities are aplenty from the sea to the coastal to the supply chain. How can we exploit business and predictive analytics to enhance situation awareness for security, port operations, maritime supply chain, fuel optimization and competitive intelligence?

Take for example, a cargo ship, running the same route every time. By analysing its route over time, if one day the ship veers off course, we could deduce that something probably went amiss. Running low on fuel? Or pirates on board, like a scene out of the 2013 movie Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks that is based on a true story. (A simple analogy that you can relate to is, if I analyse the route you took to school every time, and if one day I see that your journey took longer than expected or that you took a different route to school, I can deduce that something wrong might have happen. Service disruption? Traffic jam? You have a stomachache and needed to alight halfway to find a toilet? Haha.. You get what I mean.) Piracy has plagued Southeast Asia for many centuries and continues to remain a significant security issue. This is where analytics come in. When and where do pirates often strike? Which part of the year is the peak period for pirate attacks? Which type of weather do pirates strike and which they avoid? The sea of opportunities and shore of possibilities analytics brings about to the maritime industry is endless. Somali_Piracy_2

*Click on pictures to view effects if needed


Echoing what Ryan Noo mentioned in his previous post, interning in a start-up exposes me to different job functions and I had the opportunity to explore new things and immerse myself in different forms of analytics. I have my first hands-on experience in data mining. Extracting data from all over the web, I successfully created a database of important details and emergency services (e.g. airports, seaports, hospitals, helipads) that ships can locate and turn to when in distress. I also extracted maritime-related news articles from news sites and tweets (unstructured data) and stored the content into a database (structured data) for further analysis. With visual analytics, I can transform lengthy shipping reports into visual infographics to increase information retention and engagement with the readers. My experience in analytics during internship is not just limited to maritime analytics. I had the chance to carry out search engine optimisation to help create a successful corporate website for my company that ranks high on Google search results. My supervisor gave me many ideas and areas in that I can explore for analytics, such as the evolving social media. At that time when the intern abuse incident was the talk of the town (and coincidentally happened in the same building as me, different company), I analyse tweets and netizens’ response to news reporting on the abuse. With each comment, I can carry out sentiment analysis and gather how people react to the issue, whether it is a positive or negative one. (You can try a simple one at http://www.sentiment140.com/). I also tried analysing what people have to say about a brand online (e.g. Michelin Star Dim Sum Restaurant Tim Ho Wan just opened its first branch in Singapore at that time). There are many other stuff that I experiment including natural language processing and text analytics that can help a company derive potentially valuable business insights from text such as word documents, email and postings on social media (You can try pasting an article here viewer.opencalais.com/‎ and looking at the results, you get a feel of what the article is about without reading it).

It was an invaluable internship experience that shaped me up to be an analytics enthusiast today. So eventually, I decided to challenge myself and chose Analytics as my 2nd major. It is a new major, and I will be the pioneer batch (or some might say guinea pig), but there isn’t much opportunities in life to be a pioneer in something, so why not take the chance? So I decided to take the risk. I understand that this choice I make will be a tough one, but I too know that it will be a rewarding one that I will never regret. ;)


Last day of my analytics internship, giving Lao Ban Beancurd to the friendly security guard and bidding farewell! === Share with us your reason for choice of 2nd major here!

3 Differences Between JC and University


University: A brave new world

‘Don’t worry about your Project Work and the stuff. Once you survive your JC, university will be a breeze.’ You may have heard this from your seniors or even your JC teachers. That statement has some merit. University life, at least on the surface, looks really a lot easier than JC life. You don’t have teachers who chase after you for tutorial assignments. You don’t have to go for school as early as 7:30. In fact, you can even choose not to go for classes at all but watch lecture recording at home. But is university really a paradise? Are you aware of the challenges ahead? Digital Senior would like to offer you a peek into your future university life by highlighting three aspects that are different from your current JC life.

You have entered serious adulthood

Firstly, you have the autonomy to charter your own course in your university life. You can select your own modules and design your own timetable. Basically you are treated as a full adult. There are no more ‘teachers’. Instead you will have busy professors who will attend to you only if you take the initiative to approach them personally. Great freedom comes with great responsibility. Unfortunately, Digital Senior observes that some students are not up to the challenge. We see students skipping classes for no legitimate reasons. We also see students who only start to study one week before exams. They may be doing well in JC because they face the discipline from teachers. However, once that discipline and guidance disappear in university, they find themselves incapable of managing their own studies. So think about this: to what extent are you relying on the discipline of your JC teachers to study? You need to be mentally prepared that once the rein of your teachers goes loose, you still know how to control your horse that may otherwise run off track.

Not everything can be erased

3 Differences Between JC and University

Secondly, everything that you do in university carries greater consequences. In your JC, not doing well in one exam means very little in the long run, since the only exams that matter are your final A-levels. But you should not carry this mentality to university where each exam counts. In fact, if you know how your university GPA is calculated, you should know that exams in your year 1 and 2 carry greater weight in calculating your final GPA. Hence you need to consistently work hard, as failure in university is permanently recorded in your transcript. Of course, university life is more than study. The decisions you make in other area of your life also carry greater consequences. In your JC, you can join all kinds of clubs and activities just for fun. While you can still pursue fun and passion, it is perhaps more mature to add one more dimension of consideration: your career plan. Once you enter university, you will realize that what you do outside studies will be looked into by your employers. If you are interested in working for, say fashion design, but you have not done anything related to that area, that will raise a red flag in the mind of employers who may have the concern about the seriousness of your commitment. Hence take extra-curriculum activities in university as a platform for you to explore interests and display commitment and competency.

You are more than a student

The diversity of student populations and other resources are much greater than your JC. If your JC is still considered a school, your university is really a community. Don’t still think of yourself as a student in the sense that you are here only to attend classes and make sure you do well for exams. That’s the bare minimum. You are a citizen of the community, so be more proactive in university. For example, great exchange programs are being offered by NUSSMUNTU and SUTD.  They are opportunities for you to go overseas for one semester and be fully immersed in the local culture. Conversely, universities here also take in exchange students from overseas whom you can make friends with if you take the initiative. Moreover, summer internship is a good place to kick-start your career well ahead of your peers. Many companies and organizations reach out to university students by holding talks, company visits or competitions. Make sure you go for such things to gain more exposures to the world beyond campus. There are many exciting new things for you to try. Go out and get them!

You are more than a student

University is fundamentally different from JC. It is more than just an educational institution in a narrow sense. It is more like a transition area between your schooling life and your working life. But it has its own fun as well. You can do a lot of things that you are not allowed to do in JC and that you won’t have the time to do when you start working. So if you follow the advice given by Digital Senior, we promise you that your university life is going to be fulfilling and unforgettable.

Image source: Internet

An Integral Part of University Experience : Hall life


University hall: to stay or not to stay?

Hall Life
Photographer: Nydia Hartono

“University life is not complete without staying in a hall.” You may hear people saying that, especially when you just enter a university as a freshman. They promise you great friendship, great fun and a good reason not to sleep so early at night. The facilities are also awesome, with air-conditioners, TV rooms, pantries and more. It sounds attractive, doesn’t it? But moving into a hall may not be a small decision to make. You may want to pause for a while and think about some factors of considerations for you to make an informed decision. Let us take a look what they are.

Friends and sunshine

Living in a university hall is definitely once-in-a-lifetime experience. It may be your first time to live in a communal environment where learning and living happen in the same place. By staying in hall, you will know people beyond your classroom. In fact, due to the lecture system in university, it becomes much harder to make lasting friendship in a class of more than one hundred students. Hall compensates the loss of opportunity for you. The friends you make through various hall activities, ranging from competitive sports to relaxing BBQ by the sea, will come from all kinds of background and faculties. You will definitely have fun and the bonding you have developed may go a long way in making your university life a fulfilling one.

The island nation is actually not so small!

Moreover, halls are located around the university campus. They are great choices for you especially if you want to save travelling time. Though Singapore is a city-state, travelling from say Pasir Ris to any of the universities five days a week would still be a challenge. Why not choose to stay at a place within walking distance to your classroom? You will have one to two more extra hours every day to do whatever you want: study, school activity or just hang out with friends. When it comes to exam period, the benefit of staying in a hall is invaluable as you don’t have to read lecture notes on the train or worry about running late for exams.

The Island nation

Have you earned enough points?

Are you tempted to move into a hall? Wait. Let us then see what the potential downsides of staying in a hall are. As you may know, competition for a place in hall is very strong as the supply is always smaller than the demand. Most universities adopt a hall-point system where students are given a certain point for their CCA achievements and the hall allocation is based on how much point you have. Moreover, the CCA points are awarded according to certain criteria set by the university, such as the tire of the club you are in and the leadership position you are holding. However, it is not always the case that the activity a student likes the best is the activity that gives him/her enough points to stay in a hall. The mismatch between passion and practicality forces some to make a tradeoff or to join an additional activity for the sake of earning points. If you want to stay in a hall, you may want to be prepared for that potential tradeoff.

A life of independence

Moreover, by staying in a hall, you may spend less time with your family. For some students, they may take longer time to adjust to an independent life. Everything has to be done by oneself, ranging from trivial things such as washing clothes to more important ones such as seeing a doctor. Though they are not critical matters, the ability to completely manage one’s life still requires certain degree of maturity. It is not uncommon to see students who oversleep and end up being late for important appointments because they don’t have their parents to wake them up. Moreover, some students’ rooms are never to be shown to their parents: they are in a dire need of a cleanup! So living in a hall is not as easy as you may think. True independence is easier said than practiced.

Finally, money matters

Perhaps it is something you want to discuss with your parents. Staying at home is free, but staying on campus entails extra payment from your parents every month. The monthly hall fee ranges from S$200 to S$400 ranging from the type of room you are renting and the university you are going. But when considering financial matters, don’t forget to have a holistic assessment. Staying on campus also reduces your family’s payment for utilities and more importantly, your expenditure on transportation. Take all factors into account and make an informed financial decision.

At the end of the much analysis, we still believe that living in a hall is overall a meaningful experience. Perhaps everyone should try to live on campus for at least one year, unless there are compelling reasons for you not to do so. Living in a residential hall gives you the communal life that is important to your growth in your university years. It is a home away from home.

Have a peek into the residential life of NUS and NTU.

Image source: Internet