Studying at NUS definitely has its perks. Apart
from the core requirements that leads to a degree,
NUS also has various programmes to augment the
undergraduates’ learning experience. Some of the
more beneficial programmes are those that centre
on experiential learning. Undergraduates often
praise the Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Programme (UROP) for providing them with
an avenue to put theory into practice. They also
talk about how the NUS Overseas Colleges
(NOC) experience has benefitted those with an
With a myriad of experiential learning programmes,
how can NUS undergraduates fully maximise the
opportunities available in NUS during their three
to four years here? It is helpful for undergraduates
to map a path for experiential learning, so as not
to get lost in this plethora of experience-based
learning opportunities. Here, I highlight three main
motivations that could guide fellow undergraduates
in mapping a path for experiential learning.
1. Cultural Immersion
Nothing beats widening one’s horizons through an
overseas exchange opportunity. Embarking on the
Student Exchange Programme (SEP), a Summer
School or an Overseas Internship are just some ways
to grow in maturity and achieve a greater sense of
cultural and international awareness. In addition,
participation in these programmes contribute to
students’ ability to thrive in a foreign environment.
This is definitely an experience to which every
undergraduate should aspire.
2. Working Experience from Internships
An internship with a company is a sure way to
practise skills learnt in the classroom. In addition,
students get to hone their interpersonal and
communication skills while picking up new skills on
the job. This experience will also go a long way in
preparing students for their first job after graduation.
Although internships may not be compulsory for every student, the benefits of such experiences should be highlighted
to all undergraduates.
3. Co-curricular Activities
Perhaps one of the most overlooked areas is participation in the
university’s co-curricular activities (CCAs). Students who do not
live in hostels may not have a direct incentive to participate in CCAs
which provide excellent avenues to make friends who share the same
interests, and develop time management and leadership skills.
All these experiential learning programmes enhance NUS
undergraduates’ learning experience. However, to derive maximal
enrichment in one’s undergraduate experience, how should one
manage these opportunities? I suggest using either of the following
two strategies: (1) to specialise or (2) to complement and diversify, in
mapping a path for experiential learning. As such, students should
either seek to enhance their understanding of a particular domain of
knowledge and its related intricacies, or broaden their awareness of
different disciplines and the world in general.
Personally, I have opted for the ‘complement and diversify’ approach
and found it to be extremely enriching and useful in increasing my
understanding of science beyond the core requirements.
I hope that this short commentary will shed light on how we can map
a path for experiential learning and the key motivations that could be
possibly used to guide undergraduates to achieve a holistic learning experience, culminating in a well-rounded university education.