I once read a booklet about happiness while I was waiting for my dentist’s appointment. It didn’t really provide any step by step instruction on how to be happy but there was one line that stayed with me. The line was “Don’t just wait and look at life… Participate!” I have long suspected it’s the same for university life.
Collaborating with all major CCAs, we consolidate the insights of 22 club presidents from NUS, NTU and SMU who have participated in their university life to great extent. In fact, they are all at the helms of their respective CCAs this year. Have you ever wonder if it is a burden or a blessing to them? why did they do it? Have their studies suffered as a result? Let’s find out.
Sean Ling, President NUS Students’ Business Club
“For me, the most enjoyable aspects of university have been my co-curricular experiences. Co-curricular activities bring vibrancy, depth and richness to undergraduates, and eventually come to define you. A person is more than their grades, and co-curricular activities let employers see the kind of person you are behind your paper qualifications. Modules taught me how to make a living, but co-curricular activities taught me how to live. There are so many avenues for undergraduates to express themselves in universities that everyone can find their niche and explore their passions. I’ve had the opportunity to lead my faculty and represent NUS in Serbia and abroad, and I would do it all over again without a second thought.”
Wee Min Er, President NUS Southeast Asian Studies Society
“Joining a CCA is absolutely crucial in your university life, at least that’s what I’ve experienced. Being in my major society has allowed me to get closer to my fellow majors and be more involved in activities. In my first year in NUS, I simply went for classes and go back home. Occasionally joining workshops here and there on my own. After I joined my CCA, I got to help out with events and spend time with fellow majors outside of class. Being a part of the CCA gave me an excuse to talk to them. Organising events may take up quite a bit of your energy, but it’s definitely worth it I would say. It’s going to be tough to have this much fun when you actually step out into the working world. It wouldn’t be the same at least. Plus, joining a CCA is great for your resume!..”
Abhimanyu Bagri, President NTU Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
“Personally, I believe that the most important thing you can achieve out of university is personal growth. Studying hard and getting outstanding grades is one way, yes, but not the best way, in my opinion. The most important lessons you learn in life are those you learn outside the classroom. I’ve been through a few internships and I realized that in the big, bad world out there, my skills in math or thermodynamics were of very little use. It all comes down to your softer skills like communication and interpersonal skills, leadership abilities and team management skills. CCAs equip you with these essential skills over a period of time. But I must warn you, a CCA shouldn’t just act as a check in the box; it should be a genuine interest..”
Sebastian Wang President, NUS History Society
“NUS History Society gave me lots of opportunities to engage with people from different groups – History (and non-history) Undergrads, Department (and Faculty) Staff, various internal and external clubs and organisations – in making studying and learning (of History) more vibrant and fun! In Year 1, I was appointed co-Project Director for the upcoming Freshman Orientation Camp, where I got to know many more friends (seniors, juniors and staff included) who are now pillars of support for my university life! The decision to take up the presidency in Year 2 was to challenge myself to reach out to more undergrads to join in the big History family, as well as the ARTS family. Coz’ being alone, can be scary…”
Hon Yih Loong, President NTU Students’ Engineering Club
“I believe that joining CCA provides individuals with good learning opportunities which the university academic curriculum is unable to offer, ranging from event planning and organization for management and leadership. As cliche as it may sound, these are skills and experiences which differentiate the individuals when they are out there looking for jobs. Furthermore, CCA is the best outlet for one to pursue something he/she likes or wishes to try. There may not be many such opportunities in the future when one is working. One gets to participate in CCA and let his/her hair down, from the daily academic stress..”
Joshua Foong En Kai President, NUS Student’s Arts and Social Sciences Club Management Committee
“In the absence of class rosters, designated teachers and a structured learning environment, university life can be very daunting for those not used to the independence expected of you when you finally matriculate. Having a CCA thus helps to ground you in a huge population of students, putting you alongside others who share the same interests, majors, backgrounds etc. With these new friends by your side, you’d definitely start feeling a little less lost during your time in college..”
Ruskin Ong, President NTU Earthlink 22nd Management Committee
“Being an environmentally aware person, to have joined Earthlink NTU in university would have been classified as natural by most; it is the general stereotype. However, I would refute by saying that this decision did not come easy since there were various challenges. Semester 1 of my university life was challenging as the transition from National Service to the mugging undergraduate was tough and there was a gap in expectation between my perceived and actual school work. People might ask: “So why spend your already ‘insufficient’ time on CCA?” My answer would be that I believe I have learned a lot through my CCA which I believe would not be possible through studying alone; soft skills like networking, the opportunity to gain an insight on the environmental scene from public agencies or NGOs and not forgetting the memories of struggling with your team to get things done. While some might argue that these skills/opportunities can be self-taught/sourced, but allow me to ask a question; what would you truly want to remember from your university experience?..”
Elizabeth Susan Joseph, President SMU StageIT
“Very! While you do get to meet lots of new people in classes, CCAs introduce you to people who have similar interests and tastes as you. More often than not, your CCA friends become your closet friends in Uni as opposed to your classmates: you’re with your classmates for about once/twice a week for a 3-4 month module, while you spend up to 3 nights a week with your CCA friends for about 2-3 years (depending on how long you stay in your CCA). CCAs bond you like no academic class can, the hours you spend rehearsing together, any mishaps you overcome together, and celebrating success and achievements together knits a family of friends that you will come to rely on during your university experience..”
Lincoln Chen, President SMU Gourmet Club
“Every graduated senior I’ve spoken to says the same thing. Enjoy your time in University; you’ll regret not having enough fun once you start working. Sure, you’ll think that studying is of ultimate importance because you need to graduate with a good enough GPA, to get a good job… But sometime or another, you wouldn’t be living. And that’s when you start regretting not having joined a CCA. My advice is to try out different CCAs, and see what you like! For me, the choice was easy because I love to eat, and I love to plan, organize and lead. And I thank God that my CCA-mates are like my family because they’ll stick with you through thick and thin..”
Dilys Chua Shiyu, Chairperson SMU Roots
“Leading a student club “SMU Roots”, which champions integration efforts on campus, and celebrates cultural diversity among local and international students has been a humbling one. It is a fulfilling experience to welcome international students and help them adapt to SMU and Singapore by befriending our international friends and introducing them to local food, culture, festivals and places of interest etc. My passion and drive to be a part of SMU Roots are greatly enhanced when I witness firm friendships forming through these activities, whilst promoting our Singapore culture to our international friends. Where friendships know no boundaries and where fun and learning begins, I am humbled to be part of this Roots experience..”
Elvis Tan Wei Siong, President NUS National Police Cadet Corps
“Students tend to see a university education as the bridge to the real world, wherein all opportunities lie. But hey, this real world can be found no further than here! NUS NPCC, as one of the many CCAs out there, has thrown me tough challenges, taught me great life lessons, and above all, offered me everlasting friendships! It constantly offers me the chance to lead, to challenge, and to make a difference in peoples’ lives!..”
Alisha Tham, President SMU Funk Movement
“Finding the crossroads of something you love and something you excel. That’s the sweet spot that most people search for in their education and careers, but only a few can truly say that they have found it. As for me, I found it in SMU Funk Movement (SMUFM) in my university life. In the beginning, it simply served as a basic need of enjoyment away from the stress of school. Soon enough, amidst the business of school, SMUFM became a family of mutual support and love. We all shared a common enemy: the stress of school, and more importantly we all shared a common love: dance as a form of self-expression. This sparked an inner motivation to take care of my family and to nurture this 2-year-old club to its fullest potential. Choosing to step up was probably the most significant decision in my university life. Yes, it piled my workload probably three times higher. Yet, it brought me on a journey of learning and self-discovery, so much more than what classrooms can teach. To sum it all, nurturing the next generation of leaders and dancers is an honour for me and something I’ll keep for life as my pride..”
Kenny Koesoemo, President SMU Komunitas Indonesia
“Spending time studying for tests and exams to get a high GPA is very important, but what’s equally as important is to prepare you for the real world. When you join a club, especially in SMU, it’s not just about developing your artistic or sporting talents, but it’s about building an organization. Clubs function a little bit like a company and thus as President, I position myself as the CEO of SMU Komunitas Indonesia. Running a club in university allows you to experiment and try doing different things that you probably will not do after graduation. To me, studies are important, but life is a never-ending journey of studying and you can always do it in or out of university, but the chance to be able to be a “CEO” at such a young age, you probably won’t find it elsewhere..”
Benjamin Soh, Biking Team Manager SMUX Biking Team, SMU Xtremists
“Joining a CCA in university is a choice, and it was one of the best choices that I have made in my time at SMU. The SMUX Biking Team had provided me with an outlet for channelling my competitive spirit while providing me with steadfast friends at the same time. It was through the training sessions and weekly cafe-hopping bike rides that enriched my school life, breaking the monotony of studying. It was the epic crashes and fast rides that strengthen the friendships I have. It was through SMUX Biking that I found a family in SMU…”
Kieth Leow Ewing, Diving Team Manager, Reef Alert 2014 (OCSP) LeaderSMUXtremist 14th Crew
“Joining the diving team opens up opportunities for a more well-rounded lifestyle while schooling. Leading diving trips builds leadership and stakeholder management skills through experiential learning, something seldom done in the classroom. Also, venturing out helps build strong relationships through common experiences and forming connections by meeting diverse groups of people. As an activity, diving also helps one relax, shifting the focus away from life’s stresses to appreciating the beauty of the marine environment as well as its fragility..”
Samuel Choo Zhe Liang, President SMU Track & Field
“Pursuing your personal interests and hobbies greatly adds to your depth of character. For those who are looking for a challenge, choosing to be a leader in your club will give you opportunities to test your leadership skills. Very often, many students cite that they worry about the commitment and how it will affect their studies. My take is that pursuing recreation adds to your education, not only does it keep you fresh, it also provides avenues for networking, and forming reliable friendships in the hi-bye world of universities. Challenge yourselves to reach beyond what you think you can do. You never know your true potential until you take the plunge!..”
Derek Teh, President NUS Canoeing Club
“Personally, I joined a CCA to try out something new. Water sports is something that I have always wanted to try. I believe that University life should not be just about pursuing good academic grades, it should be a holistic experience that includes pursuing what you love, trying out new stuff and making new friends in the process. The life skills learnt and camaraderie forged between you and your fellow CCA members will definitely add colour and diversity to your university life..”
Darren NG Zhi Wei, President SMU Golf
“I have been enjoying playing golf since I was young and the opportunity to be part of SMU’s golf club allows me a chance to meet up with new friends who share a common passion with me. Close bonds are built and friendships are formed when we spend 4 hours on a golf course doing what we love. The joy and laughter that we share make my student life much more exciting and fun. At the same time, we know university life at times can be really stressful, so a CCA provides us with a balance between studying and having fun. Also, the support I have received from my mates have been very helpful..”
Toh Yi Wei, President SMU Windsurfing
“A CCA is very much an extension of your personal identity in school. Having a CCA is possibly the easiest way to build a core group of close friends with similar interests. Especially in SMU, where we do not have halls and your classmates change all the time, CCA mates are the ones that you spend the most time with each week. Join something you have a passion for, and it will give you something more to look forward to at the end of each hectic day/week. If you feel that CCAs are just great for fun and have no practical value, think again. Seniors in the CCA are excellent mentors and networks that you can tap on for good practical advice in terms of schoolwork and careers. Furthermore, some MNCs even ask if you have sporting experiences when you apply for an internship or job there..”
Shawn Michael Stewart, President NTU Lifeguard Corps
“When I entered NTU, I told myself that studies come first no matter what, spending my first semester focusing purely on studies. I had a thought to join a CCA at the beginning of my university journey, but I did not. I was worried that if I were to join a CCA, I would not be able to devote enough time for studies. Guess what? I was wrong. My examination results were below my expectations, and I realised that studies alone will result in a ‘boring’ life. After some reflection, I decided to follow my passion and join NTU Lifeguard Corps. Lifesaving has been part of me since I was 13. Since then, I have never regretted this decision. Time management became the key factor in my daily activities. In fact, I fared even better examination results subsequently. When I looked back at my CCA journey, it was filled with vibrancy and most importantly, friendship…”
Advice: Keep yourself active. I promise that you will graduate without regrets.
Yang Zhiming, President SMU Archery
“Well, that depends on what you want to get out of it. Many join CCAs because they believe they can gain practical skills that may come in useful later on. Others will run for EXCO because it’ll give them something noteworthy to write in their resume. But many forget to do something they’re passionate about, that’s when it becomes meaningful; otherwise, it’s just a chore. And anything that’s a chore can’t be very important to you. I would say CCA has become integral to my life in SMU, not only because of my current role but also for the friends that I met. CCAs are one of the few places in university where people do stay on for years; something you don’t get in classes or project groups. Friends are a great source of strength; they’re the people who keep you going when everything else goes pear-shaped. And CCAs, they’re a great place for friends to come together…”
Melvin Paul Singh, President SMU Floorball
It is a M-U-S-T for every university student to participate and be actively involved in school activities. The joys and pain of this amazing learning experience stick with us and leaves behind memories that remind us of what we are going to miss when we graduate and how much we have enjoyed and fully utilized our undergraduate university life that we only experience O-N-C-E.
CCAs, be it arts, sports, extreme activities, organizing events, all of which keeps us occupied, allows us to meet new people, to serve the school, to develop soft skills and also, importantly, to take our mind off school work. The sense of satisfaction from being in a CCA and surrounded by a family and support network is important as we navigate through 4 years of school that is filled with many ups and downs.
The club presidents have shown us that simply participating can indeed change our (university) lives for the better. (It is no wonder that they are so willing to participate in this survey by Digital Senior keke). You can’t really go wrong with participating. As to how much to participate in a CCA, it is a personal choice. At the end of the day, just make sure you don’t have any major regrets in university. After all, you only do it once(for most people). As Helen Keller once said, Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. You want to be able to tell your grandchildren, “I have lived quite a fun and adventurous uni life…”
Inspired to lead? Check out our CCA leadership series
5 Tips for Becoming a Good Student Leader Even if you are Not a Natural
5 Reasons Why you Need to Step Up to Become a Student Leader
5 Strategies for you to Get a Leadership Position you Want
Are you in a CCA and have some thoughts about its importance (or non-importance)? We may not be able to feature everyone here but we welcome you to share it! Drop an email to email@example.com or tell us in the comments box below!
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You missed out all the hall ccas!