National University of Singapore
Feature | NUS

The Pinnacle of Learning

As recipients of the bond-free, full-term NUS Merit Scholarship, Cynthia Lew Yong Yi and Gowthaman Aravindan are living the academic dream.

Left: Gowthaman Aravindan, a NUS Merit Scholar, currently in Year 1, pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) with a specialisation in Aeronautical Engineering.

Right: Cynthia Lew Yong Yi, a NUS Merit Scholar, currently in Year 1, pursuing a Double Degree Programme in Business Administration and Economics.

National University of Singapore (NUS) has always topped the rankings in the annual BrightSparks Scholarship and Education Survey, and with good reason. The NUS Merit Scholarship is bond-free, with the additional promise of all the support NUS can give a student.

For Gowthaman Aravindan, pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) with a specialisation in Aeronautical Engineering, meant a well-rounded education in his area of concentration, with ample opportunity to put his book learning to practical application.

As for Cynthia Lew, she is taking advantage of NUS's flexible, modular learning pathways to pursue a double degree in Business Administration and Economics. She views the two subjects as complementary, and thus her mastery of both subjects through NUS Double Degree Programme will provide her a holistic view of business.

Learning to Fly

“NUS is really one of the best universities in Singapore, as you can see from the rankings,” said Gowthaman, on why he chose to study there. “There are very little reasons why you need to go to an overseas university to study aeronautical engineering.”

The Sky's the Limit!

Gowthaman is very interested in astral photography, and was actually planning to go to Indonesia to take photos of the stars before the pandemic got in the way.

“Also, NUS has a student exchange programme, where you can go overseas for one semester and experience life outside Singapore – so NUS students can benefit both ways.”

He learnt about the overseas exchange programme and other scholarship perks through the BrightSparks magazine, and sent in his application to NUS. His interest in NUS sharpened when the scholarship interview panel looked at not only his results, but also his non-academic achievements – such as his pilot's license – in high esteem.

“NUS is really the best out there! I don't see a reason why a student shouldn't apply to NUS, frankly.” Gowthaman Aravindan

“It is gratifying to see that my achievements were appreciated by NUS,” explained Gowthaman. This convinced him that NUS is a school where he could learn as best as possible.

In Cynthia's case, she also was drawn to the prospect of a well-rounded student experience. “NUS was always known for giving students a holistic undergraduate experience. This means that besides getting first-class academic learning, I can also grow and develop as a person through co-curricular activities and leadership positions,” she explained.

She drew special attention to the importance of a bond-free scholarship. “What was of paramount importance to me was a scholarship that was bond-free.”

“I am someone who likes to explore my interests and get an understanding if it is suitable for me and with a bond-free scholarship, I have the flexibility to explore different fields before deciding on my final career path.”

Such experiences made scholars like Cynthia and Gowthaman, all the more determined to pursue their education at NUS, which would offer them only the best.

Gowthaman Aravindan

Gowthaman Aravindan

The NUS Experience

“Even just being a semester in, coming into university has broadened my horizons greatly and a real eye-opener,” Cynthia exclaimed. Her first few weeks at the university had been a whirlwind of activity, with CCAs and lectures and friends to be made.

“The curriculum is very different from junior college, as it requires a lot more initiative, independence and pro-activeness. The demands are different but fortunately, the lecturers here are well-versed in their subject matter and provide the necessary support that we require,” she assured us.

She has also not neglected the non-academic part of her study, joining many different CCAs such as NUS Investment Society, NUS Economics Society and NUS Pathfinders. She underscored their importance: “These activities have allowed me to learn beyond just academics, in terms of getting industry knowledge and exposure, as well as planning events and managing a team.”

Similarly, Gowthaman is in three different CCAs – two of them related to his study, one of them to hone his leadership skills – besides actively participating in the Seeds of Good programme mandatory for all NUS Merit Scholars, and absorbing all the learning he can during NUS' unique flipped classroom approach.

Cynthia Lew Yong Yi

Cynthia Lew Yong Yi

“Flipped classes” comprise of a pre-recorded lecture before the class, followed by a quick summary during the tutorial and finally a hands-on tutorial activity to apply the concepts learnt in a real-life setting. This way, students spend most of their class time applying themselves and getting honest experience of the concepts. And according to Gowthaman, this is a much better way to learn.

On the subject of practical application, he outlined how his two CCAs further helped him apply his engineering knowledge in a real-world context. He is part of the Hornet Program, building an autonomous underwater vehicle, and the NUS Rover Team – particularly exciting for him, as he would like to explore space someday.

Gowthaman summarised: “NUS campus life and studying culture is really good. They provide a really holistic education – unlike in junior college, they encourage students to study modules outside the main curriculum. For example, now I'm doing a module on Singapore's built environment.”

“I highly encourage prospective students to consider NUS and it is not something you will regret!” Cynthia Lew Yong Yi

The Obvious Choice

When asked to advise juniors who will be considering university and looking at scholarships soon, Gowthaman was quick and to-the-point.

“NUS is really the best out there,” he smiled. “I don't see a reason why a student shouldn't apply for NUS, frankly.”

“Even if you want to work outside Singapore in future, it speaks well for you to have come from NUS.”

Cynthia agreed wholeheartedly. “From the well-thought-out curriculum, to the plethora of co-curricular activities available and access to guidance from mentors and professors, these are all positive experiences I have had so far this semester.”

“I highly encourage prospective students to consider NUS and it is not something you will regret!”