School’s starting in barely a week…. not again! There goes all the motions of late night classes….. sleeping with a warped schedule……. and the never ending stress that comes with each assignment due-one after another- while juggling your work, family and social life.
So.. I shall attempt to give some advice to my fellow UNISIM students working full time and studying part time like me, who struggled academically most of the time, zoned out in class and fell sick pretty often. This post is also dedicated to my two friends, Miss Pan Jiayi and Nat *waves proudly*, welcome to the UNISIM family, you’re going to love what you’re studying, but hate the way lessons are going to be, because it’s going to be so darn tiring.
This list will be based on my own experiences in UNISIM for the past semester, so please don’t come looking for me if things turn out differently for you.
- Always get enough sleep whereby possible
On the train, on the bus. You don’t necessarily have to fall in a deep sleep but even closing your eyes to relax on the way back will make a world of a difference. I try to get 8 hours of sleep a day (goodbye social life) but when classes end at 10pm and work starts at 8 the next morning and you live on the other side of Singapore, be prepared to cry. Or!
- Find friends who live around you to share a Cab back
Time is of the essence. Money is time. If you value your sleep as much as I did, you would take a cab back. On average, I spend about $25 on a cab back home. When 3 others share, that’s an average of about $6 per person. Time saved : At least 45 minutes.
If you think a cab isn’t the economical way for you, you can always look for the Indian uncle. I’m not being racist, that’s what we actually call him. He stands by the bus stop holding a sign saying – ‘YISHUN, $4’ and is usually spotted at 10pm every weekday. There will be 2 huge excursion buses waiting at the front of the school’s bus stop. They set off around 10.15pm. I’m not quite sure if touting is legal in Singapore though.
- Be mentally prepared that if you take a bus back, you won’t have a seat
When class ends at 10pm, almost all the UNISIM kids will be released. Including sometimes CCA’s from SIM and SIM Global. The bus stop is usually packed to the brim. I never get a seat if I take the bus home, especially since I have to change buses. The first bus lets me stand for at least 20 minutes. The next stop after campus is Ngee Ann polytechnic so that means……. the kids from NP Squeeze in after their whole day of tiring tertiary education too.
- Ask your Colleagues/friends who have studied in UNISIM before how it was like
I was very unprepared for the syllabus as well as the method of night classes and self revision. Sure polytechnic didn’t feed me all the information, but UNISIM adopts a very individualistic approach. No one (I repeat, no one!) will chase you if you miss a deadline. It is entirely on your own accord.
Luckily, I was prepared in the sense that each time I was confused about a certain subject or the way UNISIM handled the blackboard, I was taught and advised by my colleagues who had since then graduated from the course. They even (without me asking) gave me their old materials for me to revise whereby necessary.
- Invest in a tablet, and download the mobile app!
It’s not compulsory but it makes your life a lot better, especially during exam break. UNISIM’s campus has free wifi all over campus, and having a tablet helps you to access the internet and the materials whenever a teacher uses the blackboard to refer to notes. I didn’t want to waste my paper to print the ones that i needed so I’ll use my tab to access them and write the focus points during the tutorial lesson.
For those asking, I use a xiao mi Mi Pad.
I also downloaded and paid for UNISIM’s app, blackboard learn. This app allows me to access the blackboard on my tablet and my smartphone on the go. I can also watch the replays of classroom recordings on my tablet with that app.
- Course Structure On a general Basis
The meet up sessions with classes are usually ones that require you to listen to a 3 hour pre-recording of the module. When you go to class, you are EXPECTED to know what is already happening and to do the tutorial activity prepared by the teacher. There may be recapping, but really light recapping. Hence, to absorb the best of your time, listen to the 3 hour pre-recording! Don’t be like me and procrastinate/think you can do it. I struggled towards the end because I never listened to one pre-recording!
On the first lesson of almost every module, the lecturers looooooove self introductions. I’m not kidding. So if you’re socially awkward like me, take deep breaths. It goes like this usually: Name, organization, job title, and why did you choose your field of study.
Tutor marked assignments (TMA)
Tutor marked assignments (TMA), though I write decently, I can never ever do exceptionally well for TMA’s, and my average lies between a high 50 to mid 60’s. I have never hit a 70 for a Core TMA. How depressing. All I can say is, cite your essay properly. Re-read your essay. And listen to what your tutor is looking for because every tutor wants something different! Weirdly.
Discussion board (DB)
Discussion board (DB), people always assume it’s just a ‘sharing’ of feelings. Wrong. Wrong again. All DB statements should most likely come with a cite. Which means, lots of readings (again! Holler!). Also, because there is always a pre-DB for mods like Introduction to Psych 1 and 2, remember to do it before the DB closes. For me, I set alarms on my phone. Helps a ton.
The cherry on top, finals. Finals are the scariest things alive. Watch the revision lecture. wait scratch that. ALWAYS, attend the revision lecture. Unless by some fine and extremely good reason why you can’t make it, you better be there if you want to pass your finals because at least 50% of the paper comes from that final revision lecture. Bring a jacket, don’t study an hour before your paper or you’d forget everything and draw many mind maps without looking at the text. Helped tons for me.
Ucores are very much like CDSes (if you were from Temasek Polytechnic, you’d know that that meant a cross disciplinary subject!), which basically means modules that are compulsory that are out of your core module list. Take me for an example, I’m doing a degree in Social Work. So for my UCORE’s, I was given Academic writing (2.5CU) which is a complusory Ucore. I was allowed to choose the leftover 7.5CU to do what I want. I chose 3X 2.5CUS, being Literature, managing your personal finances, and lastly, Law!
I heard from my colleagues that it was easier to clear as many as possible within the first year. So I was a little too overboard and took all 10CU worth in my semester 1.1 and cleared it! To be honest, it was pretty dreadful because there was a lot on my plate but I have to say it’s not impossible. Now I can focus on my other modules and not stress out with having UCORES in the way.
But like I said, it’s entirely up to you!
- Manage your time effectively!
I don’t know how important it is to stress this, but get a planner and write. So many deadlines will fall before you and with your work, you tend to get confused easily and lose track of time. You may miss your deadlines. Sure, getting your degree is important but so is your job. If your job load is too much, talk to your supervisors. Thankfully, my supervisor is a GEM and she has been very understanding in the beginning of my studies and has supported me through. So communication with your colleagues and head is very important.
- Try not to be late for class
Some teachers are ok with it, but some get really mad and blacklist you. No joke. I wouldn’t risk it if i were you.
- Summing my UNISIM Experience up
UNISIM is an adult’s university. You need to be prepared mentally that not only are the classes late at night, the work they give you is up to standard of a university’s level. I had always assumed in my thick skull that a part-time degree would be easier on the brain. Guess again. It is tough beyond belief. There will be times when you are so tired you want to quit. Don’t give up!
Make friends and make the best out of your university experience! What’s even greater is making friends who are actually in the same industry that you’re working in already, so there are lots of common topics and sharing that can interest and inspire you all the same!
with that, I shall end this post with wishing everyone the best in their UNISIM experience! Much love, xx