James Cook University’s Pre-University Foundation programme gives you flexibility to pursue your passion and excel in your studies
Jan 9, 2019
Juggling lessons at Meridian Junior College and his training commitments as a Team Singapore athlete proved to be a challenge for Tan Xiang Tian. He opted to leave school in 2010 to focus on his sport, bagging a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games, plus a gold and silver medal each at the World Wushu Championships that same year.
But his education journey did not come to an end there.
The 27-year-old enrolled in James Cook University's (JCU) Pre-University Foundation programme in 2014. The eight-month programme served as a bridge for Mr Tan, enabling him to segue seamlessly into his undergraduate studies in 2015 at the same university, where he is currently a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) student.
Mr Tan shares more about his education journey and why choosing the JCU path was one of the best decisions of his life.
Was it a tough decision to stop pursuing your Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education A-levels just six months shy of graduation?
It was a struggle, but I did not see myself being able to perform well, so I chose an alternative route to enable me to focus on training for my wushu competitions.
How did you find out about the Pre-University Foundation (PUF) programme, and why is it ideal for you?
I found out by word of mouth. I wanted to enrol in a well-recognised and accredited university, and saw that the PUF programme was flexible enough to bridge the gap to the degree programmes while equipping me with the necessary academic skills.
How were JCU's learning support advisers invaluable in helping to ease your transition from O-levels to university studies?
One of the difficulties I faced was adapting to professional writing styles, such as the APA (American Psychological Association) citation format. But the lecturers made the transition smooth, thanks to their expert assistance in core subjects such as statistics and mathematics.
I was frequently submitting my written assignments for feedback, and would receive constructive comments as well as web links to enhance my learning.
Tell us why you enjoy your studies and your average school week.
As an undergraduate, I am expected to be independent when it comes to my studies. This is where I find JCU’s smaller class sizes and ideal lecturer-to-student ratios very helpful in improving communication and learning.
Just as importantly, the diverse culture in JCU means that I’m always working and interacting with people from very different backgrounds! We have a common courtyard where staff organise regular events such as live music and performances by the various cultural groups.
JCU also affords flexibility to students to defer their studies to take on longer internships or to train for competitions. Has that made life a little less hectic for you?
This aspect definitely helped me juggle my schoolwork and competitions, such as the SEA Games and World University Games. As a sport, wushu requires stamina and concentration, so I need to train daily. Lectures usually last for about three hours on campus, so that gives me breathing room to study.
Why did you opt for psychological science?
I have always been intrigued by the science behind human behaviour, emotions, and thought. I want to connect better with people and in so doing, give back to society. Previously, I took up a voluntary internship with Boys’ Town Singapore to understand how what I study can be applied in a real setting.
When will you graduate and where do you see yourself after graduation?
I expect to graduate in June this year! In the near future, I see myself working or doing research in the field of child psychology.
To find out more about James Cook University's Pre-University Foundation programme, visit www.jcu.edu.sg.