06 Nov 2012

Growing through Opportunities

Kaplan in Singapore aims to provide a supportive environment that breeds knowledge and opportunities for development. We chat with two vibrant Communications students who tell us more about the institute’s mission to steer individuals towards success.

Besides adding diversity to Singapore’s education landscape, private institutions also provide students with a direct path to higher learning. According to the Council of Private Education, the enrolment count in private schools amassed to 146,000 by June 2011. Established schools like Kaplan cater to the ever-changing interests of both local and international students by offering a versatile mix of disciplines such as Communication and Media, Humanities and Social Sciences and Accounting and Finance. Some modules covered in communication and media studies include media ethics, new media technologies and campaign management, which equip students with knowledge necessary for thriving in the highly competitive media industry.

The comradely culture at Kaplan not only adds vigour to campus life, but also instills teamwork and proficiency amongst its students. Beaming with confidence and grace, Celeste Yue Yuan Ling tells us that the Kaplan City Campus at Wilkie Edge houses a supportive environment and framework to help students excel. The full-time Bachelor of Communication student is currently pursuing a double major in Communication and Media Studies and Public Relations (PR). Celeste reveals that her rebellious streak as a teenager sparked her interest in the communications field. Celeste specifies, “Being a troublemaker in secondary school, I had to pay frequent visits to the principal’s office. I liked arguing my way out of situations, so the principal suggested that I become a Corporate Communications practitioner in the future. Her words left a big impact on me and I decided to enroll in Nanyang Polytechnic’s Media Studies and Management course after completing my ‘O’ levels. After which, I became an intern at SPH in the Corporate Communications department and realised how much I loved interacting with people!”

Currently pursuing a part-time Diploma in Communication Management, Charles Ng is also a Business Development Executive for online apparel store Fox-out.com by day. A self-proclaimed chatterbox, Charles’ love for creative thinking is embodied in the enthusiasm that he shows. “My brain is always brimming with ideas! I was always actively involved in event planning with my church, where I came up with concepts and activities to engage youths. The satisfaction and adrenaline I feel when my ideas come to life is priceless.”

Professional Development
At Kaplan, the learning opportunities are endless as students are exposed to different teaching methods and real-life scenarios. Even with all the strategic marketing and PR skills acquired from her course, Celeste still remains jittery about her Campaign Management module, which requires students to pitch business proposals to real clients. Celeste explains, “Each team will be issued a client and budget, which ranges from $0 to $100,000. You have to be professional because you have to deal with actual PR firms and companies. It is opportunities like these that really teach you how to behave and carry yourself professionally.”

Charles’ current job entails working with a team to come up with sales tactics, promotions and ideologies for the company. One valuable asset of pursuing a part-time qualification while working is being able to apply any knowledge acquired on the job, the very next day. The Marketing Communications module which he undertook taught him plenty about advertising and other marketing techniques. Charles exclaims, “I treat the textbook like an office guidebook because I can actually refer to it and reinvent some of the traditional concepts with the team. Some people in the creative industry rely solely on instinct but traditional concepts have been proven to work, we just have to give them a modern approach.”

Valuable Support
Novelist and poet C.S. Lewis once said, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” At Kaplan, lecturers believe in equipping students with knowledge and skills that will help prepare them for the corporate world. Lecturers regard their students as professionals, and provide ample guidance and honest communication. This holistic support system also cultivates teamwork amongst students, which ultimately generates good results.

Celeste injects, “The lecturers here are really helpful and highly experienced, even using personal experiences to relate to a topic. They can be hard and critical on us at times but it’s only because they really want us to excel. At the same time, it prepares you for the real world where not much leeway is given when you make mistakes. My classmates and I often work on assignments together because we like to motivate and push each other a lot. It would be incredibly difficult to go through studies without the help and support of your friends and mentors.”

Charles agrees, adding that the support from his lecturers and classmates have helped him to fit right in. He says, “I was quite shy on my first day at school but after seeing how easygoing the lecturers were, I immediately opened up. Unlike in secondary school where your pals would be rowdy or restless, my classmates remained attentive while I was presenting a Powerpoint slideshow for my Principals of Journalism module. My lecturer was equally supportive and prompted me whenever I stumbled on my words or lost focus.”

The Perfect Balance
An advantage of private institutions is that you will get to complete a course of study within a shorter time span as compared to public universities. However, the curriculum’s quick pace and condensed structure requires students to do a lot of self-studying. Juggling school and personal time may be overwhelming for many young adults but thankfully, both Celeste and Charles have managed to perfect the balancing act.

Celeste credits Kaplan for her stable stance in life as she quips, “I used to be pretty impatient in the past but since embarking on this course, I’ve grown to be much more patient. The course’s dense structure really pushes your threshold and inspires you to grow as a person. I’ve also learned how to manage my time a lot better.”

Charles has also witnessed personal growth since stepping into Kaplan. Due to his many work commitments, Charles admits that handling studies and a job can be rather difficult. However, this balancing act has groomed Charles to become more disciplined and focus on important topics while studying on his own. “If I have to work, my lecturer will send me emails asking me to follow up on topics. You need to be very forthcoming with your employers as well about your situation and career objectives. For instance, you should tell them the days that you’ll be away so that your boss will be able to find a suitable replacement,” remarks Charles.

Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd