Looking back on the process of applying to SUSS School of Law (“SOL“), I think it will be helpful to share about my personal experience. Our SOL is really diverse. It is made up of people from all walks of life with different experiences and from different disciplines. Consequently, the age range of the students is big, anywhere from around twenties to sixties. But I believe my experience is not isolated and confined to people of my age group, because everyone is bound to face the struggles and dilemma I did at some point in their lives.
3 years ago, I’d never imagine I’d be studying law today. I was hardened to the idea of pursuing law after completing my tertiary education [for some context, I did something related to law for my tertiary education]. I had actually wanted to pursue social work after graduating. But due to personal reasons, I did not immediately apply to a university. I thought to apply for a job somewhere to do something relevant to my diploma first, before furthering my studies. Fast forward, we are back, and I am doing law again. And I’m thankful for what I’ve learnt in the past 3 years. So here are what I took away from my 2 years of deliberation.
Think, and think again.
Don’t rush your applications to different courses and schools just to further your studies. Try different things. Explore your interests. Speak with people who are in different fields to find out more. Important lesson here is do not settle. Often times, people just rush to apply for courses because we want to get from one institution to another to further our studies. What is the point of it all, if you are not sure that’s what you really want to do? If you end up regretting your choice because you realise it is not what you want, you end up wasting time and money. You can still earn money that is lost, but time can never be recovered. However, understandably, many people do not know what they truly want to do until they get to their thirties or forties. Some people may have been forced to take certain courses by their parents. And that is fine, I hope you’d eventually pursue what you really want to do. But if you have the chance to explore and to find out before you decide, please do that. Which will bring me to my next point.
Conformity is a disease…
For the longest time, I’d been pressured to conform to what society deemed as the normal path or course to take. I am sure everyone has faced this issue. In Singapore, the education pathway is paved for you from start to finish. Thus, there is this expectation of where your next step would be after you graduate from a school/course. Due to this expectation, you’d get a lot of questions if you divert from this “expected course”, or if you do something that is different from others. This should not be the case because everyone’s life paths are unique. When I speak to people after they graduate and start applying to different schools and courses, often times they do not truly know what they want. However, they proceed with the applications because “[they] should be studying in university at that age”. Another one I commonly hear is “but I will be so old by the time I graduate, compared to my peers, if I don’t apply now…”. I thought about this long and hard. Why should there be a fixed age for accomplishments?
I felt a lot better after I shook off this expectation and focused on myself and what I want. It was unhealthy for me to constantly compare myself to my peers because every person is different. This was truly an epiphanic moment for me. I was even more comforted when I enrolled into SUSS SOL. I found my peers really admirable for pursuing what they want at their own pace, despite the many discouragements they may have faced.
Do not conform to societal expectations on the standard education progression [or whatever society expects]. Focus on yourself and what you truly want, and go for it.
Adjust and balance.
After I was set on applying to SUSS SOL, I took a year to adjust my commitments before making the application. I had to drop some of my commitments which took me a year to settle, properly and completely. I was determined to ensure that nothing would affect my studies and that I was able to balance school and life. Unless you are doing this course full-time, you’d really have to take a good look at what is currently on your plate and adjust before applying to the SOL. It may be termed as a “part-time” course, but it is extremely rigorous. If you read Daryl’s post on the boot camp, you’d know that this course is not an easy one. You will be expected to make some sacrifices and adjustments, prior to the application and even during the course of studying, and it is undoubtedly going to be uncomfortable. But it is going to be worth it.
I hope this post would be of encouragement and enlightenment to whoever is reading, whether you are applying for courses for your further studies, or to the SUSS SOL, or whether you are simply struggling with societal expectations. If you have any queries regarding applying to the SUSS SOL, you may feel free to drop an email to any of us; we’d be more than glad to help you (informally). Just note that we are not tasked by the school to do this, it is really out of our own initiative to share about our personal experiences.