Dennis Chew talks about being a mature student & adjusting to student life while working

Chew jokingly calls himself an "old folk" as he is old enough to be his classmates' father.

Karen Lui | May 11, 2022, 03:53 PM

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It has been a number of weeks since local radio deejay Dennis Chew started schooling at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) as a full-time student.

Chew, who is pursuing a diploma in Chinese Media and Communication, started his first day at NP on Apr. 25.

The deejay shared this decision on stage while receiving the All-Time Favourite Artiste award at Star Awards on Apr. 24.

In an interview with Shin Min Daily News (SMDN), Chew shared his thoughts about being a mature student interacting with his younger schoolmates, as well as adjusting to life as a student again while juggling his work at the same time.

Old enough to be classmates' father

According to SMDN,  Chew attends classes at 8am every week, except on Tuesdays.

A long day of classes for him would typically end at 6pm, while a shorter day would end at 1pm.

However, a shorter day doesn't mean the artiste can run off to gallivant.

The fresh-faced 49-year-old stays back in school to engage in discussions with his schoolmates.

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A post shared by Dennis Chew (周崇庆) (@denniszhouchongqing)

Chew shared that the age of his classmates ranges from 17 to 22, exclaiming that their parents are even younger than him.

When asked if there was any generation gap between him and his classmates, Chew thought about it before replying that there might be one to some extent.

Chew, who jokingly calls himself he's an "old folk", said he felt moved by something his classmate said.

Although he was old enough to be his classmate's father, the other party responded that as classmates, they both identify as students, hence Chew will not be regarded as an "older person".

According to Chew, his classmates are not at all interested in the gossip about the local showbiz scene.

They mostly watch Mainland Chinese and Korean television series, and watch selected local shows, Chew said.

Chew revealed that his schoolmates gravitate toward larger-scale productions with more "aesthetics", which prompted him to ponder the following possibilities:

  • A little more idol dramas in Singapore?
  • A little more subsidies for production fees?
  • Easing of regulations to permit local productions to tackle more controversial topics?

Reduced income

According to Chew, he splits his time such that his studies occupy 60 per cent and his work 40 per cent.

However, fulfilling his dream to go back to school comes at a cost.

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A post shared by Mediacorp YES 933 (@yes933)

Chew's income has significantly reduced, since he is spending less time at work as a radio deejay.

He has also missed out on two variety shows, and suffered a "painful loss" of a movie contract.

Why? His studies prevent him from leaving whenever he pleases.

Chew expressed his gratitude to his company for keeping him and letting him continue to work at the radio station despite the present circumstances.

When asked if the drastic decrease in income will add financial pressure on him, Chew replied with a laugh that he dared to make this decision because he had already checked how much savings he has.

Chew's mother seems to be supportive and views his studies as a "good thing", he said.

As long as he continues to contribute to the family expenses, Chew added with a hearty laugh.

Juggling school and work

In a class of 20 students, Chew is unafraid to ask questions and memory is not an obstacle in his learning.

His only concern is working on the computer.

While Chew is familiar with using the computer, he admitted that he needed some time to get used to using his computer for tasks such as schoolwork, drawing, editing, and writing essays.

The radio deejay shared that this semester's courses include Chinese and English essay writing, photography, and media studies.

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A post shared by Dennis Chew (周崇庆) (@denniszhouchongqing)

If you're wondering how Chew juggles work and studying, planning and allocating time for both studying and work are essential.

Besides having less time for shopping, the full-time student candidly revealed that he had to take his mother home immediately after their Mother's Day meal because he needed to go home to do his homework.

Formal application processes for admission

Chew decided to make his return to school to upskill after Chinese New Year last year.

He revealed that he had undergone the formal procedures to apply for admission into the school, which included a CV and letter of introduction from his company.

In January, Chew had a meeting with the polytechnic's lecturer and director.

The radio deejay was told that his classmates sleep "very early," to which he replied that he also sleeps at 10pm and wakes up at 4am.

The director then clarified that Chew's classmates only go to bed at 4:30am.

Initially thought acceptance was an April Fool's prank

After a round of "interviews", Chew received a phone call from the school about his acceptance into the school on Apr. 1, which happened to be April Fool's Day.

Chew made sure it was not an April's Fool prank before tearing up upon realising his "dream of many years has finally been fulfilled".

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A post shared by Ngee Ann Polytechnic (@ngeeannpoly)

The veteran artiste was even mistaken for a "guest lecturer", and had to clarify that he was here to learn and that his classmates are his school seniors.

Chew looked forward to every day of school, likening the experience each day to drinking a glass of fresh orange juice brimming with vitamin C.

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Top images via Dennis Chew's Instagram page.