With the myriad of schools and degree programmes available, it can be hard deciding on the one option that best suits your needs. Two sophomores from MDIS, Singapore’s oldest not-for-profit professional institute for lifelong learning, share about their career dreams and how their study experiences are shaping them for professional success.
Assured of Management Development Institute of Singapore’s (MDIS) strong reputation as the preferred institute for lifelong learning – the institute has been awarded the four-year EduTrust Certification in 2010 and 2014 and offers programmes in collaboration with acclaimed universities in France, the UK and USA – Celestine Koh Ying Wei, 19, and Alison Yeo WenZhi, 28, gravitated towards MDIS as the natural choice.
Celestine was all of six when she discovered a flair for counselling. While auditioning for a school play, she saw a friend having a nervous breakdown and through dedicated encouragement, managed to dissuade her from dropping out.
This small taste of success of “comforting others and convincing them to do better” inspired the bubbly individual to pursue psychology with Oklahoma City University (OCU) offered at MDIS.
Following in the footsteps of her elder cousin, Alison decided to enrol in OCU’s Mass Communications degree programme. Compounding her appeal in this institution was its reputation as the first and one of the most established American mass communications programmes offered locally.
Celestine Koh Ying Wei
Bachelor of Science (in Behavioural Studies with concentration in Psychology) (Top-up)
Awarded by Oklahoma City University, USA
Psyched about School
After Celestine completed both her Diploma and Advance Diploma in Psychology at MDIS, she decided to continue with an 18-month degree offered at the school she had set her eyes on.
“After ‘O’ Levels, I did a lot of research looking for a psychology programme that was inclined towards the sciences,” recalls Celestine. “Eventually I found out that MDIS offers a Bachelor of Science degree with concentration in psychology, which was exactly what I wanted.”
She points out that unlike the liberal arts-based psychology programmes offered at local polytechnics and other private institutes, the science-based programme at MDIS is “much more specialised and in-depth”.
“People think that psychology is about reading minds, but of course that’s not true,” she grins. “Psychology is about studying people’s behaviour and emotions, and making use of theories and techniques to help them modify behaviours for desired outcomes.”
One of her favourite classes has been Behavioural Modification, wherein she learnt how classical conditioning and operant conditioning techniques can be used to help patients suffering from mental illnesses improve their quality of life.
Now in her final year of study, Celestine says that the curriculum has been enriching and well-paced. Classes typically comprise of two weeks of intensive lectures, followed by a one-week break prior to and after the final assessment. In this way, students have sufficient time to study and assimilate what they have learnt in each unit before moving on to the next.
Come April 2018, Celestine will graduate with a psychology degree awarded by OCU, identical to the one awarded to on-campus graduates in the USA.
Alison Yeo WenZhi
Bachelor of Arts (in Liberal Studies with concentration in Mass Communications) (Top-up)
Awarded by Oklahoma City University, USA
“The teaching style has come as a pleasant surprise. Unlike my experiences back in secondary school and polytechnic, we’re given a lot more freedom to pursue our interests.”
A Global Education at Home
“The curriculum has been extremely broad-spectrum,” shares Alison. “We’ve been doing topics from politics to philosophy, advertising, scripting and research methodologies. I’m only halfway through the programme and I’ve already learnt a lot.”
As broad in scope as it is in depth, the programme covers all four major pillars of mass communications: journalism, broadcasting, advertising, and public relations. Given the rigour of study, it’s not surprising that the media students have gone on to win national awards in 2016 and represented Singapore to compete in the 48 Hour Film Project awards festival, Filmapalooza 2017 in Seattle, USA.
For Alison, however, what stands out the most is undoubtedly the American lecturers, all of whom are industry practitioners and experienced teachers flown in directly from OCU campus to conduct classes at MDIS.
“To be honest, I expected classes to be boring,” she admits. “Instead, the teaching style has come as a pleasant surprise. Unlike my experiences back in secondary school and polytechnic,
we’re given a lot more freedom to pursue our interests. Classes are less didactic and more interactive.”
That’s something Celestine concurs with, adding that in her psychology classes, students often get to role-play clinical situations as the client or as psychologists. “We’re all thinkers and questioners. Culture-wise, we are very encouraging and supportive of each other.”
Beyond the Classroom
Both Alison and Celestine are looking forward to December this year, when they will finally experience the highlight of their programme: a three-week overseas residency at OCU campus in Oklahoma. Apart from immersing in the culture and networking with international students and teaching faculty, they will also get the chance to pick up more valuable hands-on skills, such as real-time TV production and clinical health practices at public health institutions.
By the time they graduate, both are confident that they will be ready to take on the workplace, equipped with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to realise their career dreams.
“I want to pursue a career in clinical psychology, or maybe work with children,” muses Celestine. “I think either would be a rewarding career.”
Alison, on the other hand, is set on becoming a game designer, though she is “tempted to possibly tweak [her] career path” thanks to how stimulating the mass communications programme has been. In the meantime, she is an active member in MDIS Media Club, where she helps design cover pages and event posters as head of the creative unit for the editorial department.
“Participating in the Media Club has been invaluable in helping me build up a portfolio,” she says. “In the communications industry, that’s a critical must-have no matter where you go.”
To future juniors, the duo has some final words of advice. “Come in with an open mind,” says Alison, to which Celestine chimes, “And be prepared to work hard. Your journey won’t be easy, but it would be worth it at the end of the day.”