So you are a good student who managed to sail through your PSLE, and passed your O levels with one eye shut. But just when it seems like all those extra tuitions are finally paying off, life totally blindsides you and you didn't make it into NUS, NTU, or any of the local U's.
And because we live in such a small country, Singapore also has a limited number of public universities. if your A level or poly grades didn't manage to land you into your first few choices, you can't just pop over to another local university to pursue the course you want. Simply because there isn't any left.
If enrolling into an overseas university is out of the question, you can either resit your A levels and try apply again at a local university, go to poly and hope it lands you a shot at uni, or enrol into a private university degree course.
Even though this is the year 2016, there is still a stigma that private university degrees are not as prestigious as public university degrees. A recent survey revealed that private school graduates find it harder to clinch jobs and land higher salaries. Sure, we all know that uni graduates get paid a lot more than non-degree holders, but given the cost of a private degree, some of you might be wondering if it would be better to just enter the workforce to work your way up the career ladder. Perhaps some of you might even be considering deferring studies until you are more financially stable before going back to taking a part-time degree. Whatever the considerations, here are a few things to consider before making up your mind:
Know the industries that give a crap about a private degree, and the ones that don't
Despite all the concerns about private degree holders getting paid less, not all employers will place you at such a disadvantage. When choosing the area of study that will lead you down your career path, it's important to know which industry value that piece of paper you will graduate with, and which ones don't.
The civil service sector is notorious for being very particular about the university you graduated from, as well as your class of honours. You are better off retaking your A levels. So what if you've got 10 years of work experience, the government won't care. On the flip side, portfolio-based industries such as animation or fashion design, tend to care less about where your degree comes from. It's all about letting your talent shine.
Work on your portfolio or polish up your soft skills for a better chance
In the case of those industries where you’ll be asked to show a portfolio, work hard on yours while you’re still a student, and if you have a better portfolio than your peers from NTU or NUS, you can still finish ahead.
If you're eyeing a dream job at Lucasfilm Animation, seek advice from your art teachers or go online to garner constructive feedback. DeviantArt is a great portal for artists to share their work and get comments from each other, and the world.
Industries that place emphasis on soft skills like communication and writing skills (such as media or advertising) will also be less picky about which uni you graduated from. Polish up your writing portfolio by reaching out to popular local websites like mothership.sg or ladyironchef to ask if you can pen some articles for free in exchange for having your name credited.
Know which private universities (and courses) are more reputable
There are no mincing words. Some private universities are super dodgy. We have all heard of stories in the news of schools which were filled with wealthy foreign students who paid their way to a degree. Or worse, of schools that close down without warning, leaving enrolled students with no degree and thousands of dollars in school fees poorer.
So don’t just enrol in a random private uni course simply because it is located near your home or you like way its name sounds.
When doing your research into which private universities to consider, it's a good idea to check whether a school has received the Committee for Private Education’s EduTrust or EduTrust Star award. This certification basically recognises a university as excelling in providing education services to their students, as well as in managing the school. You can use this site to check whether a school has received this certification.
Some private universities are regarded as more reputable than the rest—SIM, MDIS, Kaplan, PSB Academy, and East Asia Institute of Management to name a few. Some schools are also more recognised in specific industries—for instance, arts or music graduates can’t go wrong with NAFA and Lasalle. If these schools are running your desired courses, they are a safe bet.
Whichever your choice, just remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are thinking of enrolling into a private school instead of a local one. Work hard, study smart, and you will get far in life.