While most of her friends might still be mugging through another semester at a local university, Low Kai Ying already has a degree at 23 years old, and a full-time job that she loves.
Low, who currently works at a local media company as a social media community manager, had taken the Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Murdoch University at Kaplan Singapore.
Before she graduated, Low was already holding a steady job at her current workplace, having accepted a full-time position after her internship.
Low decided to start working full-time instead of pursuing further studies, since her work required more practical experience than theoretical knowledge.
“I took up the opportunity to work full time and I thought to myself that I didn't need to study [at a] university because honestly, in [the] realm of media, my friends [and I] always say things like ‘everything is [based on] work experience, you don't necessarily need [a degree] per se to be good at your job.’ ”
Two years into her job, however, she realised that her career remained stagnant, having stayed at a specific position for a long time.
It would then become clear to her that having a degree would be important for her career advancement and other opportunities.
“Even if I [do] leave this company, a Bachelor’s degree will help me for my future, so I decided to search [for] different options to embark on a degree”
A degree is a degree
Low began to search for a degree programme that suited her needs.
She considered certain popular university courses related to communications, but they did not offer a part-time programme, which was something she greatly preferred.
Studying full-time would present a difficult situation where she would have to give up her steady job, while still having to search for means to support herself through university.
Murdoch University’s degree programmes, as such, grabbed her attention for providing a part-time degree.
Murdoch’s reputation greatly appealed to Low, as she knew that many students interested in studying communications went to Australian universities. It could be completed as quickly as within a year, or a year and a half, compared to others which may take as long as three years for a part-time degree programme.
Choosing to take on an Australian degree from a private education institution was somewhat unconventional for her. Low had, after all, graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s (NP) mass communication course with a GPA of 3.69. She was also awarded the NP scholarship for all three years of her studies, and could have applied to a public university.
However, Low felt that Murdoch was a recognised university and she decided to go for it, noting that it didn’t matter where one studies for their degree.
“A lot of people say: ‘you're paying for the degree because it's just a private [education institution]; you just spend money and then you [can definitely] get a paper’.”
“I think some of my friends were surprised that I chose to go [down] that route. They're like, ‘your grades [are] not bad what, why [do] you want to go [to a] private [education institution]?’ But honestly, I have other friends who studied [at] Murdoch University, and Murdoch is a recognised school. I feel that a degree is a degree. If you study hard, and you get good grades, wherever you are I don't think there's nothing you can't learn.”
It turned out to be a great choice for Low.
While it was challenging to balance work and studies, Low’s lecturers kept her on her toes thinking about critical and current issues, which are vital to her work.
“[One benefit] about [Murdoch University] is that they really help you in your writing….it helps you think critically, like some of our assignments [required us to] come up with a research idea [to] help a minority group in Singapore. It keeps you thinking - you won't necessarily need to write an essay again to do that, but it keeps you on your toes. [Many] of the lecturers [use] current issues [for learnings and as examples in class], which is a good thing. “
She mentioned that her lecturers guide their students adequately to ensure that they were genuinely learning, while not spoon-feeding them with information.
“Most of our lecturers don't spoon feed you. They don't hold your hand [throughout], but [guide] you [towards] the right direction”.
Meeting great people
Besides the course of study, school life also made a significant difference in Low’s study experience.
Low points out that in the local universities, students would be mostly exposed to people from the same age groups, but at Murdoch University, she met people of different ages and walks of life.
Some of her classmates include air stewards and stewardesses, engineers, army personnel and even new parents, like a mum of two who was taking the degree as a refresher for herself.
Given their diverse backgrounds, her classmates would prove to be a resourceful support network for one another, offering to assist with job prospects and networking connections within the same industry.
Low shares that there is a misunderstanding that students pursuing a degree in a private education institution “just want to get it over and done with. Like [they are] just not hardworking” she says.
“But I think [this] is a misconception because you really see a lot of people who really want to learn.”
Sacrifice and time management
A lot of sacrifices had to be made to ensure that she was able to graduate, especially managing her time.
When asked what she would advise prospective students about taking the same route as her, she reiterated the importance of sacrifice and separating work and studies:
“You need to be able to sacrifice [and] be [mature] enough where you're able to [give up] your social life and learn how to [manage your time].
Because there are times when work is more intense or that you're having a terrible day at work, but you still need to be able to switch your mindset to start studying. You also need to be able to compartmentalise - you need to separate work and studies.
If not, you know you're going to be very lost and your mind is going to be very busy all the time. You need to know [how] to switch to [between studies and] work. That's very important."
The sacrifice, however, is worthwhile.
“In the end, it was [worthwhile] because I still got my degree. And I was very proud of myself for completing it because I never thought I would go to university.”
Want to see if Murdoch University is the right place for you? Check out the Murdoch University Fair at Kaplan’s City Campus @ Wilkie Edge on Mar. 7, from 11 am to 5 pm.
You can also head over to their website for more details on how you too, can start your journey and achieve success in your education and career pursuits.
Top image courtesy of Kaplan
This article is brought to you by Murdoch University at Kaplan.
Murdoch University at Kaplan is one of the world’s Top 100 Global Universities under 50 years old, according to the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2019 – Top 351 Global Universities under 50 years old. They believe that everyone can be an achiever and find success in their educational pursuits.