Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Advices and information from Senior Recommer, Smilehoe! ^_^

Here is the reply of Smilehoe, a senior Recommer to me due to my dilemma at my previous post, and I think it is worthwhile for me to post it up here to be shared with everyone due to its great and effective information to me. He's an actuarial student in UM(University of Malaya) and here it goes: 

Hi Nicholasng925,
First of all, I think that the effort you put in considering and researching on actuarial science is impressive. I didn't know as much as you do while I was at your place.I'm not an engineering student so my advice would be lopsided, do take it at face value and make your own judgement. 

We will talk about a few scenarios,
Case 1, No A-levels,
I think alternatives are pretty limited. Form 6, A-levels or other Pre-U courses at more affordable institutions. You can again aim towards Act.Sc. while doing those courses.

Case 2, A-levels or other Pre-U, but no scholarship for overseas degree
As you have mentioned, NTU and NUS are good alternatives. High government loan available. Though NUS offers twinning programme, there might be some issues you need to sort out beforehand, i.e. admission might be harder, and the funding of the two years in Aussie. NTU on the other hand, won't much of a burden if you take Sg government loan.

Apply to UTAR, UKM, UM or other local universities. Local universities do accept A-level qualifications. Some A-level students have in fact been accepted to UM actuarial sc., but I can't guarantee whether the chances of getting in are the same.

On quality wise, Utar, UM and UKM don't differ much. The path to fellowship depends much more on the student than the institution. Utar and UKM have students who take SOA papers at incredible rate. And UM does not lag too far either. So don't turn out the option on Utar, it's a reasonably viable path and as long as you persist, you'll turn out equal with your overseas counterparts.

Take the risk, do A-levels and apply to overseas unis. If you are accepted at an Ivy-league or equivalent institute, JPA will sponsor your studies (I hope I'm not wrong on this). And even if you don't want, certain universities do not charge tuition fees. Those with need-blind policy of admission usually are tuition free. Some European universities do not charge fees either. So do check them out. And don't give up on scholarships application while you do your A-levels.

Actuarial sc. may be intimidating due to its exam oriented nature and various claims. But as with every other subject, it is as easy or as hard as you want it to be. I don't see law, medic, engineering or other professions easier than act. sc. Others can't tell you if you make it or not. Granted, there's still a lot of hard work but that what dreams and life are about. 

One thing to note is before you choose a career or course, factor in the future working environments too. Engineering will be related to site or lab work depending on specialization while act. sc. will be constrained to an office cubicle (*Note rough generalization). So do think about it as well.

Still, if you were determined to pass professional exams, long hours of study are absolutely necessary. It can become unbearable especially once you start working. Dropping out halfway is not uncommon. If you want to know more, I suggest you visit here and interact with the community there. There are many accounts on study life and challenges an actuarial student faces. 

All the best.

Below was my reply to the helpful senior for his information:

Hi Smilehoe! Thanks a lot for giving me such an insightful reply in the thread. In fact, you have given me lots of useful informations about local institutions' actuarial programmes about their lecturers and the rate of students taking SOA papers, and I knew that UTAR actually have a few students who passed 6 SOA papers successfully. Most importantly, finally i knew that local universities(UM, UKM) do accept A-Levels students, although those who apply them by using A-Levels result might have slightly lower chance to succeed.

About the NUS's twinning programme, I think you were referring to the Bachelor of Social Science(Actuarial Science) in collaboration with ANU. However, I prefer NTU more as like you have said, I shouldn't be facing much problem if i take Singapore Government's loan. However, I won't stop there just yet before trying out to research on US, Europe universities as you said, and maybe Australia universities too; And I do know that some of the US universities have need-blind policy and will grant some scholarships and financial aids to international students given the fact that their parents' monthly income does not exceed certain amount, which most of the medium income families in Malaysia probably won't exceed it. I think i have to start doing my researches and scholarship application while I do my A-Levels.

Yeah I do realise that Actuarial Science is indeed intimidating due to the exam oriented nature, but I just believe that I am able to do it, and hopefully i do. I totally agree that is what make up life and dreams! Oh, and I think i prefer office environment more than at the sites, factories or labs. In fact, I can sit at a particular place for hours, and even half a day, doing my studies or facing the computer! Opps~ :P

Lastly, I really want to thank you for introducing the actuarial forum to me, and I have registered it straightaway once i knew it from you. I don't know how to reply you, but only to say thank you for giving me so much useful information about actuarial science and most importantly clearing my questions and doubts. I really appreciate it, and thanks a lot. Good luck to you too! =)

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