What the teachers don’t teach us (and what seniors do)

Shared by Ted Chong, Nanyang Technological University, Year 3.

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I came from polytechnic and had a taste of life in a tertiary institution before coming to university -where there is no attendance taking in class. Even though I did well enough to gain admission into university, I felt sorry for my polytechnic life. I could count the number of friends I made with my 2 hands. While I hear people around me raving about the club they joined, the camp they went to and the overseas program they participated, I knew nothing about any of them, or I was too ‘busy’ with schoolwork to find out. I was a good student, paying attention to all the teachers’ instructions but I was far from being fulfilled and my resume was empty. I decided that there will not be a repeat in my second go at tertiary life. So I read books, consult seniors and did everything I could during my army days to learn about maximizing the university experience. Fast forward 3 years, I am a senior now.

The Challenge

I was helping a junior cope with his school life by suggesting what I know. He didn’t have enough time to join a CCA because schoolwork was debilitating and constituted the center of his entire universe(sounds familiar?). Noticing that I have many commitments on my plate yet still being able to do fairly well in school, he asked how I managed my time. I jokingly replied that it would take a whole lecture to tell him. He then put forth earnestly, “why don’t you conduct a lecture? “ That struck me. Since I love public speaking and teaching, instead of sharing my tips with just one person, why don’t I reach out to more people via my passion? I love challenges anyway.

The Birth of the Idea

I began planning for this project and started doing marketing on campus. Long story short, the lecture was held on September 2013 and close to 50 students showed up.

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Later, friends who couldn’t make it for the lecture requested for a copy of my content. I wrote it down and sent it to them online.  After that particular episode, my teaching itch was intensified. I uncovered many more challenges faced by students and wrote long guides on public speaking and conducting productive project meeting. At that time, I was on a local exchange program and didn’t have to plough day and night to try to get an A, so I could devote my time on doing something I enjoy. The following semester, I went on an overseas exchange.  Whereas many of my peers were panting heavily from the overwhelming school work, I got to spend one whole year being stress-free. I realized that many people didn’t even know that we can go for 2 exchange programs consecutively or the existence of local exchange programs. In actual fact, it was a kind senior who told me about this as well.

The Senior

 It dawned on me that schools dwell on academic knowledge such as E=mc2 , but neglect many other important things. We turn to seniors to enlighten us on various aspects of school life, but not all of us are lucky enough to know the ‘right senior’ who will show the path for us. This results in an information gap between different students in university. The worse is that you don’t know what you don’t know and you thought you knew. Some people may just sail through university life with eyes covered with a cloth. There are so many more opportunities available in higher education institution other than just academics. We all need help to gain access to more information.  As such, the idea of Digital Senior is conceived! With the power of internet, we can democratize information. In Digital Senior, we level the university playing field by making information available and accessible for all. No longer will you be at an unfair disadvantage because you don’t know a senior.

The Importance of Learning Beyond School

I was able to garner some of the humble achievements in my life because of the countless books that I read and seminars & courses I attended, which set me back by several thousands of dollars.

 

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Nonetheless, the return on investment has been tremendous, in both tangible and intangible ways. (Prior to Digital Senior, I managed to set up several online ventures that fund my exchange program at US now.)  Warren Buffett(who needs no introduction) said : “The best education you can get is investing in yourself. But this doesn’t always mean college or university.” Warren Buffett himself attended the Dale Carnegie public speaking course and remarked that it is the most important ‘degree’ he has, despite having two official ones.  On that note, I believe that everything can be learned, including juggling schoolwork and social life effectively, graduating university with good grades, making friends in university or choosing the right electives. The skills that we acquire in going through university may be more important than university itself, but we must first be willing to learn. I hope that by starting Digital Senior, people can begin to spend time on the internet reading and sharing content that could help them gain an edge in life or simply have a better university experience.

The Digital Senior

 My vision for this platform is to create a positive community with members that help one another thrive in university and in life. There are communities for individual universities, but not one that unifies all students in different universities.   I hope to enlist the help of more seniors who are also passionate about developing oneself and helping others at the same time. There is only so much that one person knows and this platform will be much more valuable if more people come on board to help answer questions faced by juniors.

If you want to learn more about what we do, go to https://digitalsenior.sg/. I would love to hear your feedback about it. Also like us on our Facebook page ! Oh yes, the guides are all published on Digital Senior(for free!). Best things in life come for free, isn’t it?

 Cheers.

 
 About Ted

Ted is the founder of Digital Senior, the online portal about everything to do with Singapore Universities. He is an NTU Scholar who got into the deans list of Nanyang Business School in 2011/12. He had the privilege of studying at 3 universities during his undergraduate stint leading him to unearth many insights about university life: NTU, SDSU & SMU. In 2013, he conducted a talk in NTU on the topic of personal and time management for University students that was highly well-received. He has also spoken and evaluated at NUS, NTU and SMU toastmasters club.  He was one of the youngest club president in the history of his toastmasters club, which he led to win the president distinguished award. Ted is a freelance public speaking trainer and has taught in top JC such as NJC.

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Always wanted to do something to improve the status quo? You can do it as long as you set your sights to it. Share with us your experience too!

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