Sep 12, 2013

    Degrees help them grow together

    Written By Victoria Barker

    THE couple that study together stay together. Just ask Mr Alfred Toh and Ms Natalie Chen, both of whom are graduates from the School of Business at SIM University (UniSIM).

    Soon after getting married in 2007, the pair, both 32, decided it was time to work on their personal growth by upgrading their qualifications.

    Mr Toh, who works as a service-marketing and operations executive at Daikin Airconditioning (Singapore), told My Paper: "We had always wanted to further our tertiary education, so after we got married and had settled into our new home, we knew it was the right time."

    In 2009, he enrolled in UniSIM's Bachelor of Science in Marketing programme, while Ms Chen, an ITE lecturer, took up a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communications with Business.

    The latter is awarded in collaboration with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts here.

    Looking back on their learning experience, Mr Toh and Ms Chen, who graduated with their respective degrees last December, knew that they had made the right choice.

    A big attraction, they said, was the fact that UniSIM offers locally recognised, credible degrees.

    But the biggest draw, they added, was that UniSIM allows for flexible learning, which meant they could study while holding on to their full-time jobs.

    The university offers evening and weekend classes, and aims to help working professionals and adult learners upgrade by focusing on their needs.

    That flexibility also came into play when Ms Chen was expecting the couple's first child, and then their second, while pursuing her programme.

    "I really liked the e-learning portal, which allowed me to catch up on lectures I might have missed," she explained.

    As both programmes are under the School of Business, some of the couple's courses overlapped, so Mr Toh could help his wife carry her heavy textbooks towards the later stages of her pregnancies.

    And, being awarded a UniSIM scholarship "took a load off" Mr Toh, who had been worried about the additional finances required for child-raising.

    "The scholarship really helped me focus on what I was doing and strive for good grades... It was a real motivational factor," he said.

    One of the School of Business' unique selling points is that its curriculum fits the needs of the working adult, incorporating real-life experiences and knowledge through real-world discussions and practice-oriented assignments.

    "That was the great thing about the lecturers," Mr Toh explained.

    "As they're all very experienced (in their various industries), they're able to go beyond textbook learning. It was always a very interactive experience, with lots of sharing."

    Ms Chen said: "When I was doing my capstone project, the lecturer was very strict but fair.

    "I had to rethink my whole concept several times, but I ended up learning much more than I would have had had my lecturer been more easy-going and lenient."

    Ultimately, their UniSIM learning journeys have upped their respective skill sets, making them assets to their employers.

    Mr Toh, for instance, has even been promoted.

    "Along the way, my bosses have seen my performance and how I've applied what I learnt and they've been entrusting me with more responsibilities," he said.

    "It's a testimonial to UniSIM and the education it provides."

    Ms Chen added: "The knowledge I've gained has been put to use in many areas, especially in project management. I definitely think my leadership abilities have been enhanced."