I n an era of continuous technological advancement, people can stay plugged in to a whole realm of information and knowledge from almost anywhere in the world. Enter Minerva Schools, a university program for the 21st century.
Apart from providing a reinvented education designed to help students solve complex global problems, what sets Minerva apart from other higher education providers is the opportunity to study in seven global cities. While at Minerva, students live and study in seven global cities, namely San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hyderabad, Seoul, London and Taipei.
In these cities, students can immerse themselves in different cultures and take part in career and networking opportunities organised by Minerva staff. A Minerva education is ideal for students who are looking to break out of traditional education options to seek an exciting, global alternative.
Two Minerva students, Nguyen Huong Xuan and Amalanand Muthukumaran, take time off their busy schedules to share with us about their unique educational journey.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO TAKE UP MINERVA’S UNIQUE MODE OF LEARNING?
Nguyen Huong Xuan: While in high school in Singapore, I took some first-year modules at the National University of Singapore. While lectures there were very helpful, we usually sat in a 200- seat theatrette hall. When I considered Minerva, I relished theideaofsmallseminarsthat would push me to study harder, prepare for classes and express my opinions. Being a member of the second graduating batch of Minerva students will definitely be a challenge that I am up for!
Amalanand Muthukumaran: When I was studying in Raffles Institution, I took the initiative to find research and internship opportunities in my area of interest - Psychology. I contacted, met up with and worked with many professors, in both the U.S. and in Singapore. It was very excited to see how open the academics were to sharing their knowledge and mentoring a young student like myself. I wasalsodrawntohowmuchof this sharing and mentoring could be done outside the physical and structural confines of a classroom. Hence, the Minerva model of learning from and working with institutions, individuals, and organisations around the world really excited me.
NGUYEN HUONG XUAN
Class of 2020
Chosen Major at Minerva: Natural Sciences
TELL US ABOUT THE PEDAGOGY AT MINERVA.
Xuan: All classes are conducted in small seminars of less than 18 people. Everyone is expected to prepare for classes and voice their opinions in class. On our Active Learning Forum (an online platform on which all Minerva classes are conducted), everyone’s face is visible so you cannot sleep or check social media in class. If you open another tab outside the platform, the professor will be notified, and will call on you. Because of these platform features, people pay more attention in class and engage more effectively with the class material.
Amal: Minerva was set up to reform higher education. Minerva’s Founding Dean, Dr. Stephen Kosslyn, who spent 30 years at Harvard and Stanford University in a variety of positions, launched Minervaafteryearsofresearchon howtoimproveeducation.
There has also been extensive feedback from employers on the skills they are looking for in fresh graduates. However, the incentives in traditional universities are focused on graduate research and journal contribution instead of improving undergraduate education, so traditional universities do not always act on this feedback from employers.
Minerva, however, was launched by some of the world’s leading experts in higher education, combining technology, pedagogy and global experiences while constantly iterating and incorporating feedback to improve. This really attracted me.
Class of 2021
Chosen Major at Minerva: Undeclared
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF ENGAGING IN A GLOBAL STUDENT BODY?
Xuan: When you have students from Vietnam, China, U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria all in a single class, you get to hear their stories and viewpoints. You will likely not have heard their examples before – your eyes will definitely be opened!
Amal: Having such a diverse set of people to interact with and being able to study in diverse cities greatly increases our cultural intelligence, the awareness of and ability to fit into the cultural nuances and sensitivities of each city. We will also better understand the economies of each city, the professional opportunities present, why some ideas work in some cities but not in others and which ideas can be translated into other cities.
XUAN, TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE LOCATIONS FROM WHICH YOU HAVE PERSONALLY ATTENDED CLASSES. WHERE CAN FUTURE MINERVA STUDENTS GO?
Xuan: Thanks to the Active Learning Forum platform, students can take classes anywhere as long as they have a laptop and a fast broadband connection. I have only taken classes in my room because it is where I have the best Internet. But it also comes down to personal choice. My friends take classes in cafés all around San Francisco, co-working spaces, libraries, in conferences, or even in a park. It is fun to see students with different backgrounds behind them on the platform.
WHAT SHOULD THOSE CONSIDERING A MINERVA EDUCATION BEAR IN MIND?
Xuan: The Minerva programme will be very challenging. In the first year, you will be involved in interdisciplinary classes, and a lot of the curriculum content will be different from what you might be used to. Do not be afraid! Take your time and discuss the material with your Minerva peers and professors.
As a Minerva student, you also need to be self-motivated and disciplined. In Minerva, it is easy to be fascinated and distracted by the experience of living in new cities but one has to be disciplined to prioritise academics and professional development.
Amal: Minerva provides opportunities around the world in many fields. However, this freedom means that you have to take ownership over your education, instead of following a set path like a scholarship or popular professional courses like law or accountancy. Hence, potential Minerva students must be willing to explore their interests and stay commited to pursuing their passions.