To live (on campus)? Or not to live?

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Hostel fees for local university students have risen sharply over the last few years.

A non air-conditioned double room (yes, that means there’s another person sleeping in the same room as you) at NTU now costs $245, while a single air-conditioned room costs $395 to $425.

Over at NUS, a single room will set you back between $400 to $540 a month, while a double room is $300 a month.

At SMU, it gets even more expensive at $643 for a single room and $536 for a double room, although that’s understandable given the fact that their hostel is at the very central Prinsep Street.

Now, the drawback of living on campus is obvious—it will cost you more than living with mum and dad, and unless your parents are willing and able to fork out the fee payments, you’ll have to find a way to make ends meet. Still, housing on campus is significantly cheaper than renting a room on the free market.

For those students who are wondering if “staying in hall” is worth all those extra hours of tuition you’ll be giving to pay for it, here are some advantages you’ll enjoy.


If your parents live far from campus, living on campus will make your life much easier

For most Singaporeans, travelling to university is going to take a lot more time than travelling to secondary school did, especially if you end up in NTU, which is about as accessible as the Lim Chu Kang cemeteries.

And as you’ll also learn, going to school isn’t a simple matter of turning up for flag raising and then leaving after your teacher dismisses your last class.

In many courses, there are group projects to deal with, or long days spent doing research in the library, and they often entail staying on campus till late at night or showing up on weekends.

If you live 1.5 hours away from school, that’s going to be an obstacle if you’re the sort who wants to excel academically.

It could also get in the way of your participation in campus life. You’re just that much more likely to sign up for CCAs or turn up for university events if you don’t have to make a long commute to get to school.


You’ll have a wider social network

Every single one of my friends who has lived at university has said that the biggest advantage is that you instantly make tons of friends. You’re living with these people and see them 24/7, not just in class.

Conversely, I know many people who didn’t live on campus and who didn’t make a single friend at university (this tends to be quite common in courses like NTU Engineering for some reason).

Of course, it’s not set in stone that you won’t make friends if you don’t live on campus. If you’re the outgoing sort and can be bothered to sign up for CCAs and activities, you won’t go through those three or four years alone.

Still, for many living on campus is the easiest and most convenient way to make friends with tons of people from different courses. You’ll be involved in hostel activities and will have people to jio you out for supper, which is the fun part for most.


If you have problems at home, this is an affordable way to move out

Despite the increases in hostel rents, staying in one is still a lot cheaper than trying to move out on your own. To put things in perspective, what SMU is charging for a single room is at least half the price of an equivalent in the same location.

Sounds sad, but let’s not pretend that students from disruptive families don’t exist. Maybe you’re not able to get a moment’s peace and quiet at home. Or you have a disturbed parent or sibling.

If staying home is affecting you negatively, moving out to a hostel could be your chance to escape that, at least until university is over. It’s totally possible to cover the costs by taking on a few tuition students, so consider this option if you really have to.


It might be cheaper for your family to rent out your room at home and ship you out to a hostel

Ironically, due to the relatively low cost of hostel rentals, your family might actually be able to make a little money by having you stay in a hostel and then renting out your room.

If you get to stay on campus for, say, $500, that would be cheaper than the $700 to $1,000 it would cost to rent out an HDB bedroom, depending on which area your parents’ flat is situated. If your family lives on private property, they might be able to earn even more.


SMU students get to live in the heart of town

Students enrolled at SMU enjoy the most convenient location of all the hostels, since they’ll be living on Prinsep Street in the Dhoby Ghaut area.

That can be a big advantage if you’re working part-time or interning in the CBD during the semester, as you get to save tons of time that would otherwise be wasted shuttling to and from home, the CBD and university (think of the poor NTU students in the same position!)


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Education Utopia

This article was first published in “The Global Edge” and copyright belongs to them. To read the full article please click here


This reads like utopia in lifelong learning? Probably not, if we fast forward 10 to 15 years from now.

In the last 20 years, advancements in digital technology have practically impacted every aspect of how we live, communicate and work, and dramatically changed our lives beyond our wildest imagination. Similarly, over the next 20 years or maybe much less, the way we learn and teach will also be radically transformed beyond what we know today.

The changes in the higher education sector will be reflective of how industries such as music, entertainment and news have been changed by technology. These changes are unstoppable and will continue to gain momentum in bringing about a paradigm shift that will liberalise higher education and revolutionise the way we understand and acquire knowledge. The fact that many well-known institutions such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford are already making some of their courses freely available online on Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) signifies a move in this direction.

Just as how digital technology has impacted the recording, production and marketing of music in a revolutionary way, so will it change the way knowledge is created and produced, and how it is packaged and delivered. Given how digital technology has stood many industries on their heads today, it is not difficult to imagine that higher education in the future will be a totally different kind of experience: it will not only be richer, more accessible and more personalised; it will also be in the full control of the individual, and hence more useful and meaningful to him at whatever life stage he is at.


Work while studying?

When you are in JC or University, thinking of working may be the furthest thing from your mind. You are concentrating on school, and dealing with a great deal of studying. While many will shy away from work during this time, it can actually be very beneficial to have part-time work while in school.

One of the biggest benefits of having part-time work while schooling is the exposure that you will get to the “real world”. While it may be more common in the past for students to work for a couple of years before pursuing higher education, it is now the norm to finish your studies before working.

While this arrangement has its benefits, it also results in students studying for the sake of passing exams, while not really retaining knowledge that would be useful once they start work. Part-time work in a related field to what they intend to do would give them a better idea of what skills and knowledge employers are looking for. It will give students a heads-up in developing and building these skills and network.

One other obvious benefit is the salary you will draw as a part-timer. But don’t be too quick to spend all your cash on having fun. If you’re still receiving sufficient allowance from your parents throughout the school term, it’d be wise to save up the extra cash you receive from your job. For example, there are finance students who use the money saved to invest in stocks and shares, earning them dividends, capital gains and experience in the trade. Others use the extra cash to pursue entrepreneurial dreams and start a mini business while in school. Even if you have no such interest, the extra savings could help in repaying your student loan once you’ve graduated, reducing the total interest you’ll have to pay over the years.

Trying out a different area of work – even if it’s your dream to become an engineer, you may also have wondered what’s it like baking cakes and waiting tables. Even if you’re not considering a full-time career in these areas, studying is a good period of time to try out the different jobs available. It will expand your horizons and allow you to develop skills beyond what you can learn in school. Even though there may seem to be little in common between engineers and waiters, it is essential to realise that being successful in your career entails you having both vertical and horizontal skills. While schools can teach you the hard skills, the soft skills are best picked up by interacting with people.

Overall, do make sure to find a good balance juggling part-time work and your studies. The satisfaction and experience can be worthwhile.

Homework Elves is an online platform that allows students to get academic help on the go. It is open to university students to join as “tutors” or “students”, depending on whether you want to ask or answer questions. Join us today at


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Getting Used To University Life

It is one of the biggest and most important moments in your life. Some of you may have moved away from home and into university dorms. It is a time of self-discovery, but also a time of worry. How are you going to get used to university life, and what can you do to make it easier on you?

The Homework elves hope to share some tips to help you get used to university life.

First, don’t be afraid to expect a lot, but also expect that the unexpected is going to happen. No matter what you hear from others about university, your experience is going to be different. Go into university with your mind open, be ready to try new things and move out of your comfort zone. Most people typically enter university in their 20s, and it is at that age where you are mature enough to know right and wrong, while also pushing and exploring beyond the boundaries set in your younger years.

Always remember that the university experience is going to be special to you and your story is only one for you to write. While it may be nice to read about the adventures of others, don’t get too caught up with achieving a “check list of experiences”. It is best for your life story to remain uniquely yours and not a copy-paste of someone else’s.

Secondly, a university is a big big place. While the downside is that you probably have more slopes to walk and often get lost in your first few days, these are minute compared to the opportunities available. With a bigger population of students, there is a lot more interest groups to choose from – Investing, Photography, Diving clubs. Beyond your course mates, it is a good time to develop your network in interest groups too. Take the opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone and join a Toastmasters group and take up the challenge of public speaking. You will find that people judge your performance with the intention to help you improve – not to bring you down – which is something not so easily found outside of school.

Lastly, make it a point not to be the same person at the end of university as you were at the beginning – to be clear, I mean make yourself better. It is a time to explore your interests and grow your network in a friendly environment. Cliques are much less common in university then pre-U, so there is less pressure to conform to what a group thinks. No one expects you to be just one thing, so let yourself change and grow.

Homework Elves is an online platform that allows students to get academic help on the go. It is open to university students to join as “tutors” or “students”, depending on whether you want to ask or answer questions. Join us today at


The Future of Jobs

Change is the only constant – and that can be a scary thought. The jobs of yesterday and today may not be the jobs of tomorrow. A good example of this is in the world of journalism, where jobs have been lost and many more have been combined in other ways. Newspapers are increasingly ridding themselves of the presses, allowing for a centralized press far away. The silver lining is that new jobs in the digital realm have begun to pop up in that industry – and they tend to pay more too.

So what is the future of jobs? What can you expect if you are still studying or new to the job market? Be prepared that your first career may not be your future career. Your job role may no longer exist or is drastically different in 10 years’ time. The good news is that you can plan ahead and change your career path along the way.

Understanding the future can put you ahead of the pack when it comes getting the job, the career and the salary that you want.

While the elves don’t have a crystal ball to tell you the exact careers to go into, the following might be some points you wish to consider

  1. Automation is the “in-thing”. Jobs are concentrated in countries that have the infrastructure, safety and human capital to enable countries to flourish. A country that does well tends to lead to manpower shortage in very manual labour. Although there are plenty of workers in the world that would take up such jobs cheaply, restrictions are usually imposed to control migration. Companies would then turn to automation to solve their labour woes. In such cases, you would do well to be in a sector where work is difficult to automate. You would not want to compete against the price of robots, which are getting cheaper by the day.
  2. Be the boss of robots and AI. All these new inventions need people to invent, manage and repair. As such, be open to working with these new technologies. Being a “Manager” in future may not mean managing 20 human staff, it may mean managing 200 robots.
  3. Always strive to be of value to others. The salary you command is never based on your qualification or number of years working. It is based on the value you can bring. Think of your company as your personal client. What value are you bringing to your client today?
  4. Quit that entitlement mentality. No one owes you a living – not your boss, your country or your parents. Everyone face difficult times at work. “Overnight successes” are rarely done overnight, Pokemon Go whose popularity exploded overnight was a result of more than 20 years of hard work

The future always has some uncertainties. It is akin to hiking in the woods, you won’t really know what lies ahead, but advance planning and being prepared can take you a long way.

Homework Elves is an education portal that enables students to get academic help on-the-go. We cater to University, JC, Poly and Secondary students. Visit

Future of Jobs

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The Importance Of Developing Yourself Beyond Academic Knowledge

When people ask what is the point of life, the easy answer is to continually better oneself. We do this in a number of ways but often the most common way is by increasing our academic knowledge. People see those with a lot of academic knowledge as the smartest and most developed people. Look at Einstein, the picture of genius, who succeeded in an academic way.

The thing is, there is much more to development than just academic knowledge. Yes, academic knowledge is great but it is not the only essential thing. In many ways, the most important is holistic personal development.

Personal development is a key component of who we are as people. It means not developing your mind in terms of what you know, but developing yourself. If academic knowledge is knowing more about the world outside yourself, personal development is about knowing about the world within yourself.

For many, personal knowledge is the most rewarding and by looking introspective, it is possible to begin to change who you are and where you are going. If you do not look inward and if you do not develop yourself inward, then change will not happen.

Look at every person who has ever altered the course of their lives and careers. This did not come about randomly. At some point, they reflected and made changes about themselves. By looking at things in a different way with a different perspective, it has allowed them to change their entire lives and often for the better.

It is not possible to be successful just on academic knowledge. You need to develop yourself beyond that. You need to know who you are and where you are going. Otherwise, you will have what you believe to be successful, but you won’t be. You need to have more than that and it comes from developing yourself personally.

There are many ways to do this including:

  1. Having a mentor and life coach who you can talk to and can help you learn more about yourself. It will entail difficult questions, which is always the key to personal growth.
  2. Meditation is highly effective for looking inward and learning more about yourself in a spiritual way.
  3. Doing things that are creative, including writing, painting, poetry and more. This is a great outlet of expression. Don’t worry about not being good at it, at the end of the day, it is for personal growth and not for showing off.
  4. Look at yourself as someone looking at you. What would you think about yourself?
  5. Write your own obituary as it is now, and how you want it to be. What do you want your life to look like at the end of it? While a little morbid, having those goalposts can help you begin with the end in mind.

If you want to be more than you are now, academic knowledge is great, but personal knowledge is much more important. The path of fulfillment and happiness can be found. It all begins with you, and depends on you being ready to make that inward journey.

Homework Elves is an education portal that enables students to get academic help on-the-go. Don’t spend hours on repetitive tuition – Free up your time for personal development. Visit

Personal Development

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The story of Ray Kroc

We often think that it is too late to change careers once we hit a certain point. After we reach 30 or 40 years old, we often make the decision to stop dreaming of a change and just accept where we are. However, it is important that we do what we can to get ourselves out of the rut, and onto the path that we are meant to be on.

It has happened many times in the past, where a person decides they no longer want to be on the career they are on and change paths to begin something new. While this is more commonly done at younger ages, there have been a few that do so at later stages in life. It may be a good thing, as many who do so at later ages are no longer “experimenting”, but rather, are responding to a dream that they’ve had all their lives. They are often equipped with passion, maturity and goals that are essential ingredients for success.

One of the examples is Ray Kroc.

Born in 1902 to immigrant parents in the United States, he enlisted in the First World War and served as an ambulance driver. In his 20s, he began to sell paper cups for the Lily Tulip Company. He would remain with the company for 20 years when he made the first career change and started his own business. The business was Prince Castle Multimixer Company, and he sold mixers capable of making five milkshakes at once. The company did well until the 1950s when ice-cream stands boomed and his business rapidly declined.

Kroc noticed that that one restaurant was going the ice cream stand route, and was doing well and had eight multimixers on the go. He travelled to California to talk to Richard and Maurice McDonald, the brothers who owned the restaurant. Impressed with what they had, at the age of 55, Kroc made another change in his life and offered to become the brothers’ franchising agent. They reached a deal in 1955 and McDonald’s Systems was incorporated. One month later, the first McDonald’s Restaurant was opened with the trademark Golden Arches out front in Illinois. The first day the restaurant made $366.12. Over the next several years the company boomed and eventually, Kroc paid $2.7 million to the brothers to buy the company.

Over the next several years, the company began to boom because of the assembly line process of creating hamburgers and fast food. Before long, hundreds of McDonald’s were opening up across the country and even outside the United States.

When Kroc passed away in 1983, the company was booming with sales of $8 billion, from 7,500 outlets in the United States and 31 other countries. Today, the company he created has more than 30,000 stores, with more than 1.5 million workers, making around $25 billion in revenue every single year. McDonald’s remains one of the largest employers in the world.

If not for changing careers not once, but twice, Kroc would have never found the immense success he did. Growing up poor, and being poor most of his life, he ended his life as a multi-millionaire. It is never too late to change your path.

In our modern economy where jobs are ever-changing, it is important to be nimble – both in mindset and skills-set.

Homework Elves is an education platform to enable you to get homework help on the go. Visit