a levels, education, personal, school, singapore

Local University Acceptances (Yes, even with my subpar results)

Thinking that since this year’s results were the best since 2006, I thought I was completely blown out of the water (yes, I am a fish) because look: BCC/DBA is surely no match for a BBC/CCC or even another set of grades combination that had 1.25 grade points more than mine? This week sure was the living proof that I still had a chance to get into local universities and I’ll tell you how to do it. (Just a guideline ok)

Getting a BCC/DBA (GP B, PW A) is sure as hell disappointing, but you need to maximise your choices with these very limiting grades. Of course, you put your most favourite course as your first choice and then followed by your second most favourite course and so on. Logical, isn’t it? But there are circumstances where one just put there top 3 favourites in order and the remaining choices are filled up with courses that one will never ever ever ever pick and work inOf course, please put the choices that your rank points are very close to – 2-5 rank point differences.

I am someone who enjoyed Physics in Secondary school. Thinking the Junior College Physics would be in my net, I thought I would be fine. But things turn out for the worse and I struggled through JC Physics. Worse, I took up H2 Physics with no option of dropping it to a H1 because I already had a H1 subject! I still loved Physics in JC, but it became a love-hate thing.

Because of my struggles, Engineering/Science courses were not something I foresee myself to do in a very long time (which means, in my whole lifetime on Earth). However, given the limited courses available for Arts students, I was already at a disadvantaged because I was a Science student with very poor grades (when compared to the rest of the Science cohort Class of 2014 in Singapore). It didn’t help much that priority was given to students in the Arts stream. (But do take note that Science students are very much advantaged because we’re able to go for most courses) I knew that there was a chance my application would be running around in circles from option 1 to 2 to 3… to 8 for NUS and to 5 for NTU. I didn’t want that; I wanted the universities to actually discern and read my application before they toss it to the next choice I had.

I wanted to be in the Arts for as long as I could remember, so I put FASS (for NUS) and Public Policy and Global Affairs and Sociology (for NTU, in that order) as my first few choices. After that, came the hard part. I know I could do Science, Engineering and Computer Science so I had to put them down in my choices. I didn’t want a case whereby I won’t get a spot in any of the universities ever.

So for NUS, I put my choices in this order: FASS, FoScience, Architecture, Information Systems, Computer Science Courses, Environmental Engineering, Engineering, Biomedical Engineering.

See what I did there? Well, I did mention that I didn’t prefer Engineering/Science courses, then why put them inside my choice at all?

After thorough consideration, I still see myself being able to study/work these fields, even though it is highly impossible. So I put them according to preference. After my Arts dreams, I could foresee myself doing Math (Atherz might be able to attest to that). Since Mathematics/Applied Mathematics fall under the Faculty of Science, I had to put it down as my second choice. As I got to the end of my list, I had to put the most logical Engineering courses that suited who I was. You can see – there were no Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering or whatsoever.

Same goes for SMU and NTU. (SUTD required no declaration of majors/pillars at the time of application BUT… I’ll blog more about SUTD later in a separate post).

This week has been a tumultuous week because (in chronological order):

1. ON MONDAY: NUS’ Faculty of Science called me up for a Discretionary Interview** on this coming Saturday – this effectively ended my application for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). I bawled my eyes out because it was going to be a very tough fight to appeal into the FASS.

2. ON MONDAY: SUTD accepted me half an hour after NUS’ Faculty of Science informed me of the interview. Me?! Of all people, me? After reading up the size of the cohort, only 350+ received acceptances out of the 4000 applications and I was beyond shocked. I felt so happy to receive the acceptance because Architecture & Sustainable Design was one of the things I really wanted to do (after Arts & Social Sciences) In addition to that, I am invited to come for their Tea Session where I’ll meet various faculty and students!

– BUT Things were starting to get a little worrying because SUTD’s deadline to accept was this coming Monday, 27th April. I had no acceptances, nada from any of the other local universities. I love SUTD, but this was putting me at a very dangerous position where I was to make a choice without any other option? Not a good thing at all.

3. ON TUESDAY (yesterday): NTU sent their letter of acceptance at 6pm saying that I was accepted to Sociology! NTU was the only university that gave me a result without me going for an interview. It felt truly surreal and I don’t really know what to do. This sure as hell changes a lot of things and I don’t feel restricted anymore.


True honest feelings:

When NUS gave me the notification that I was being considered for Faculty of Science instead of FASS, I felt truly unworthy of being an Arts student. I didn’t know what went through my mind, but I completely disregarded the existence of NTU. In my mind at that point in time, I felt that I only had NUS and SUTD to choose from. (I didn’t like SMU that much unfortunately) I was measuring my grades and worth against a very competitive scale a.k.a NUS and it didn’t help me at all. When NTU announced my acceptance to Sociology (my second choice, first being Public Policy & Global Affairs), I felt seriously overwhelmed with these kinds of thoughts: I ACTUALLY DESERVE TO BE AN ARTS STUDENT?!??!

Sorry, NTU. I neglected you. 😦


Here comes the part… Discretionary Admissions!

I had to fill up everything on the Discretionary section because hey, my grades don’t have a single H2 A and it doesn’t hurt to put down your achievements and sell yourself to the Admissions Team, right? So I did. Apparently, my CCA records were very very outstanding(?) because I had 2 EAGLES Awards, given a leadership position in the middle of the year when everyone else had theirs at the start and I still continued to volunteer at the same organisation even after graduation.

However, I must bring out a point that volunteering (at least in my case) is a very heavy commitment. I am not talking about just helping out in the execution of events, but in the planning of events. I had to juggle studies as well as my current school CCA(s) of which I had 2 in JJC – Malay Dance and Photographic Society. However, Malay Dance became a second priority after SYF, and instead I helped in Malay Cultural Society’s events like the Bahas 4PM and try to reach out to the Malay alumni.

The two years were worth the hardships and troubles. So I was called for SMU Interview, SUTD Interview and now NUS Interview. Like I said earlier on, I would talk more about the SUTD Interview in another post so that you would know what you’re in for!

Ultimately, the rule of thumb for Discretionary Admissions is to actually brag about what you have been involved in. However, try to stick to the truth and not lie about your achievements. I can’t lie very well in stressful situations, so I put whatever truth there was but only tweaking the word choice to make the whole description stunning, y’know?


I’m now a little bit more relaxed because I have lesser burden to think through. I’m pretty excited to consider my choices now because I’m not cornered into one.

I hope this has helped you a little in making your choices for any university applications! I wish you all success in whatever path you’re given/you’ve taken. Don’t give up, because like me, there will always be a way.

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