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Tandeep Singh - Commerce Student, University of New South Wales

Tandeep Singh
'The biggest difference at university would have to be that no-one's actually pushing you to complete your work, to do homework, to study – it's really individual-based.'

Tandeep is a consistently high-achiever. He was Dux of Homebush Boys High School and was awarded a scholarship to study at the University of New South Wales, but he fits plenty of other activities around his study including helping out at the Co-op Scholars Charitable Society at UNSW. He is currently studying for his Bachelor of Commerce.

What are you studying at university?

I'm studying a Bachelor of Commerce. It's hard work but it's a good course!

How many hours per week do you study?

My course requires 12 hours per week in classes, but, in addition to that, I definitely have to study outside of class time. Altogether I study more than 20 hours per week.

How and when did you decide on the course that you're doing?

I made the final decision to take this course once I received the course scholarship. Just before that, I wondered what university I should go to, what profession I should choose. When I got the scholarship, it kind of sealed the deal.

How did you know that you wanted to get into business studies?

I wanted to get into business studies not only because I was good at it during school, but also because I've always had an interest in that aspect of the professional world.

What courses did you take in high school that were relevant to your university studies?

In high school, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do at uni, but I took some courses that I was interested in that became relevant to my degree. I did economics at school, which was really important because a lot of the subjects in the first year of my degree were related to that content. I also did ancient history, which is not directly related, but it gave me a lot of skills that allowed me to think outside the square. Also, English and maths were very important.

Did you research different kinds of careers?

Yes, I did do some research. I looked into law, engineering, medicine and science. I ended up choosing commerce because I gained a scholarship for it and because I know there will be opportunities for graduates in the industry in the future.

How did you go about your research?

I looked on the Internet mostly. I went to university websites for their course outlines, what they required, assumed knowledge and their timetables. I also attended university open days and went to my school's careers adviser, who was very helpful. He provided me with a lot of information which was tailored for me personally. He also gave me the Career FAQs books and they were pretty helpful.

Did you apply for other scholarships?

Yes, I did. I applied for as many scholarships as I could throughout Year 12. I was always told that you're not guaranteed any one placement, so you have to go for a lot of them.

What do you have to do to be considered for a scholarship?

A lot of people think that to get a scholarship, you have to be really smart and get the best possible marks, but in fact, you have to get good marks but also put in the hard work. A lot of it is the way you balance your extracurricular activities and school. You have to get out there in the community too, and take on responsibilities and leadership roles, and challenge yourself.

What does your scholarship give you?

My scholarship provides $15 000 a year for four years. The $15 000 is given to me in fortnightly payments. The money comes straight to me so I decide what to do with it, but generally most people first pay off their uni fees and buy textbooks. Whatever's remaining can be used on whatever I want. The scholarship also provides 18 months of industry training. That involves six months at three different sponsor firms and it also provides lots of networking opportunities. I've met a lot of my friends at uni through the Co-op program – they're very good people.

What do you think the biggest difference is between high school and university?

The biggest difference at university would have to be that no-one's actually pushing you to complete your work, to do homework, to study – it's really individual-based. In high school, teachers are all on your side, trying to help you out. Here, lecturers and tutors do offer support for students and they have consultation times where you can go and see them, but it's really a very different environment to high school. Another difference is that things move much faster at uni. In high school, you get a lot more time to do things, whereas in uni, you cover things you might do in a year or two at school in one semester.

What's your typical week like at university?

My time is broken up between lectures and tutes. When I get to uni, I tend to spend two hours in either a lecture or tutorial and I have a one-hour break. I use that break to get together with friends and to actually have a break, not study.

If I have an assignment due or a test on that day, I tend to do a bit of last minute cramming, but I usually use it to take a break because if I go the whole day without taking a break, then my brain tends to go numb and it's much harder to concentrate.

What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time at home, I try to balance the amount of uni work I do with spending time with family, going out with friends and just relaxing at home. I'm also a member of a few societies and if they have something on, I'll go out and help them.

What kind of societies are you a member of?

The main one that I'm most active in is the Co-op Scholars Charitable Society. We support a lot of charities through fundraising events. These activities develop personal skills as well as giving me the satisfaction of being able to give back to the community.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

After I graduate I will be working full time, most probably with one of the scholarship sponsor firms. I'm also currently planning to undertake a graduate law degree part time. I'm not sure how things will go, but that's the plan for now.

Is there any particular specialist professional avenue you'd like to pursue?

With marketing, your specialty depends on where you actually work, but I'd like to get into the side of marketing that's not solely advertising. I'm interested in the way businesses develop their products and organise and execute their marketing strategies.

Do you have any advice for secondary school students looking at university options?

Do a lot of your own research to find the type of courses that would suit you best. Don't be forced by other people into choosing things; make sure it's really something that you want to do, because four years is a long time to be spending on something that you really have no interest in.

And ask around; use your teachers, year advisers, careers advisers and principals to guide you. Also, don't be deterred if you don't get into the course you want. There are lots of pathways that you can use to get into uni.

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