Asked on 28 Oct 2020
In a dilemma over which one to choose.
Really want to go to top U.K. uni to study for the overseas exposure and also really liked the course there. However, could not find scholarships to cover the immense expenses and would not hope to burden parents to pay for the school fees too.
Local offer is attractive too...
Suggestions and advice please? 🙏
Eugene Tang, Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London
Updated on 30 Oct 2020
I am studying abroad right now, and truth to be told, I think studying abroad has made me changed my perspective a lot. If you have a lot of money to spare, go abroad; your experiences would be great, and the companies you will be exposed to is amazing. Anyone with the overseas working experience would be valued over anyone stagnant in one location.
Life is short, experience trumps money (controversial alert, very debatable) but essentially spend your money wisely, yet maximising your experience! Remember that Singapore does not revolve around the world, and the globe is for you to explore.
At the end of the day, we should not be your deciding factor! Make your own choice and don't look back
Money aside, it really depends on what you want to after you graduate. Which program do you think will help you get the job you want? Where do you want to work, Europe or Singapore?
I'm not too sure about the UK student loans but I am assuming that you'd be able to pay them back in around 5-10 years from graduating so that shouldn't be an issues.
Also, some local workplaces are still very local centric and will take a 2nd upper from NUS over a 1st class from a recognized UK uni.
Having studied in one of the top US universities myself, and then coming back to Singapore to work, I would advise to stick with the full scholarship local uni if u plan to stay and work in sg. also, our local unis are good too! Sure, having a top uni would look nice on your resume and may open a few more doors initially. But a degree is just the beginning of your working life. I think you should consider what industry u plan to work in the future, and then choose the degree programme that best supports your goal. Overseas experience can always be gained through exchange programmes, or overseas postings in your future jobs. Many employers look beyond your degree, and into other things like your internships, interview skills, prpgrqmming skills, etc.
There are a few scenarios that an overseas degree might be the better choice. If for one, youd like to start your first job overseas. Or if u r enrolled In the top degree programme, e.g. engineering at MIT, comp sci in carnegie, economics in LSE, law in oxbridge, etc . Degrees from renowned programmes will give you a leg up in the respective industries. I dont mean it to sound like a dampener, but if you are burdening with your parents with expensive overseas school fees, at least make sure it's one of the top degree programmes.
As for me, I went to a "prestigious" uni in US, and it did help me to get a leg in the current place I'm working in @ sg. But after you're in the company, all that degree stuff doesn't really matter anymore ( at least in non civil service setting, but I'm not in civil service so I wouldn't know For sure). im judged based on how i Function at work, my efficiency, my attitude, how much initiative I take, and whether my knowledge and skill set is growing. And it applies to everyone, regardless of their background degree. After I started working, I did not feel that I was particularly better than Other colleagues from less renowned unis. on the other hand, sometimes I felt burdened, cos ppl assume that I'm automatically smart just because I studied in that uni, and when I underperform it's frankly embarrassing. I've also seen graduates from Cambridge and the likes crash and burn in the workplace becaise Of their work attitude, and many graduates from our own local unis becoming superstars at work.
someone once told me this, and I thought it was really good advice when I was deciding where/what to study - it doesn't matter where u study, it's what u make of it in the time that you're there.
good luck with ur decision!
Money aside, where do you see yourself after graduation? Then determine which program is going to equip you better for that goal you have after graduation. And also to be realistic, will you be able to comfortably afford the UK program? Are you or your parents gonna suffer financially if you take it up and importantly will the new perspective gained be worth the $$.
Main things to consider:
Is your family well to do enough for you to afford such an overseas exposure?
Do you think that overseas exposure is worth the 6 digit figure that you are going to pay while studying there? (Best case scenario is that you are able to get a scholarship)
Can this overseas exposure be achieved through exchange and summer programme while studying in a local University?
Are there any close substitutes to the course you want in Singapore?
Ultimately, we have to be practical and weigh the benefits and cost of doing so. If I were to choose between this two choices, i would definitely go local knowing that my family just simply couldn't afford it. Do I think i got not enough overseas exposure? No. There are many overseas exposure opportunities available for you to study overseas for 3-12 months while paying SG school fees.
No dilemma.. just few factors to consider:
Is the NUS double degree program of your preference?
The sponsor for the scholarship i.e. private v public? If latter, your career path is secured provided no hiccups along the way (please don't harbour such mentality - 少做少错, 不做没错 hor). Or else, you have to "fight" climbing up the corporate ladder. In private sector, performance as to contributions e.g. how much $$$ one can make for the organization, counts.
Will there be a bond? If yes, save time and hassle after graduation to look for a job. No one can predict the job market near/upon graduation (like the current situation!!). View a bond of 2-3 years as an opportunity to build up your work credentials and network for the next challenge.
Self-funded top UK degree program - parents' scholarship or on loan? If former, at least you will not feel so oppressed when servicing the monthly repayment if required (however, should still be grateful and show appreciation with monthly allowance when parents bestowed upon you the gift which is in hundreds of thousands for a 3-year program + living expenses, etc. in UK).
There are lots of opportunities for overseas exposure today (referring to post-COVID 19 when cross-border traveling can be done without much restrictions) - student exchange program, further studies, work for MNC, etc.
Visualize what sort of life you want to lead. Be patient in working towards it. Remember no short cut and live a humble life. Lastly, take responsibility of your decision on the eventual degree program.
Just my 2 cents.
The point is you get a scholarship, means that there's a company and career waiting for you.
Top UK university, meh. Save it for your master's if you really like experiencing different cultures or want "intellectual rigour". Do a SEP and NOC and maybe Language Program if you really like going overseas. That will count for 2 out of your 5 years for double degree.
Career wise imo local companies don't give that much special credit esp since you'll lack the internships that NUS will help you get. Maybe MNCs or if you plan to work in London, sure.
Bottom line, money doesn't really matter in this equation. Where you want to be after that should be the consideration.
Have you discussed this with your parents?
Not sure how wealthy your parents are, why not local (use that scholarship for investment) and then use that scholarship to go overseas exchange?(some do cover exchange)
Then again do think twice if you really want that bond. Some of my friends break the bonds after graduation..