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Expanding your knowledge doesn’t always have to come with a pricey school fee. Ahead, discover fun online classes you can take up, FOC!

Practice Your People Skills

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Course: Diploma in Customer Service
Duration: Nine modules, six to 10 hours

If you’re intending to pursue your first part-time job, chances are you would snag a gig in customer service, which will require tons of human interaction be it as a store assistant, banquet waiter, or barista. This course preps you by teaching the essentials of delivering good customer service, encompassing both hospitality and retail industries. You’ll also be able to discover if customer service is truly for you by finishing three self-graded assessments.

 Get That Perfect Instagram Feed

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Course: Photo Editing with the iPhone
Duration: Three hours

Envious of perfectly curated Instagram feeds? Well, you don’t need to be a social media influencer to have visually appealing photos! A few hours with this course will have you learning how to edit your photos with pizzazz, using only your smartphone. By the time this video course ends, you’ll likely say goodbye to spending extensive, unnecessary time editing your snapshots, and achieve your #Feedgoals in a breeze.

Manage Your Money

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Course: Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making (University of Michigan)
Duration: Six weeks, five to six hours per week
*Online course is free. Verified certificate is available at US$49.

Having trouble managing your finances despite trying your hardest to save every month? Register and enroll in this free online course that gives you professional financial advice to hone your money smarts. Easily relatable and applicable with real-life examples, you’ll be able to make clearer decision the next time you’re thinking of splurging your allowance on a random buy.

Become An SEO Expert

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Course: SEO for SEO Beginners
Duration: One hour

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), SEO knowledge is fast becoming a necessity. Short for “Search Engine Optimisation” – SEO is essentially, keywords we enter into the search engine while looking for information. Knowing how SEO works is a vital skill to acquire, and can do wonders for your career – be it at a web store you’ve started or the new company you’re about to intern at. With this straightforward course, you’ll have a better understanding and strategy to help your website top the search results. Google ain’t got nothing on you.

Try Your Hand At Becoming A Social Media Guru

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Course: Social Media in Public Relations (National University of Singapore)
Duration: Four weeks, six to eight hours per week
*Free version only allows access to course materials; excludes grade and certificate

The social media landscape is ever-changing and thus, comes the importance of staying updated (and savvy). With this helpful online guide, keep up with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and learn how to capitalise them for your business. The course also ventures into what makes content viral, so the next time you’re sharing or uploading your content, you’ll know exactly how to get that view count rising. Acquiring the ins and outs of this skillset is guaranteed to be imperative for your digital future, so there’s no better time to get schooled than now.

Learn What It’s Like To Be A CSI Investigator

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Course: Introduction to Forensic Science (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Duration: Eight weeks, four to five hours per week
*Free version only allows access to course materials; excludes grade and certificate

After all those years watching CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, you can now fulfill your dreams of being a detective. Well, close enough, Nanyang Technological University is offering a concise eight-week long course that will have you equipped with greater comprehension in the field of forensics and DNA. Even cooler are the real-life investigations you’ll get to study, such as the infamous JonBenét Ramsey murder case. 

Geek Out With Video Game Knowledge

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Course: Video Game Design History – Rochester Institute of Technology
Duration: Five weeks, three hours per week
*Online course is free. Verified certificate is available at US$49

Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda might’ve been your childhood go-tos, but not many truly know the complex story of how video games came about. Make history lessons exciting with this course by delving into how the first ever video games were invented, and be mind-blown at how it has evolved into incorporating Virtual Reality today. You’ll feel like the smartest one in the group the next time you and your pals are having a video game marathon when you impress them with your newfound facts!

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Discover more tips on effective ways of learning in our April 2017 issue out now!

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We totally understand how difficult it is to focus on one thing at a time. You’ve got distractions aplenty – from itching to play that new game you just downloaded, to stealing peeks at your mum’s K-drama playing on the television in the background. The temptations are endless, but with these 6 methods, dispelling that ineffectiveness in you isn’t all that impossible.

1. Take a break every 45 minutes


Vision getting blurry? Realised you’ve meddled with your hair that they’ve started falling out all over your desk? Then it’s time to put away those books, for a while at least. Studies have shown that taking breaks at optimal intervals to rest your eyes (and brain) from concentrating for extensive periods does wonders for your productivity. Set an alarm for every 45 minutes of work-time and step away from your desk when it rings to just stretch, scroll through your Instagram feed or scour your fridge for a snack – you deserved it.

2. Switch off your phone or lock it away


The world’s greatest invention might possibly also be the most distracting one, tempting you with its evil forms of online shopping, social feeds and gaming apps. If simply setting your phone aside at the corner of your bed or at the side of your table still doesn’t stop your fingers from crawling towards your device, do the unthinkable and… switch it off. Should self-discipline not be your strongest trait, take it a step further by locking it away in a drawer and giving the key to your trusted parents or sibling until you’ve finished your assignment of the day. You’ll thank them later.

3. THIS app

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While your phone can be your biggest distraction, it can surprisingly also be a great source of productivity. The ingenious Forest app actually encourages you to to put your phone away – to grow trees. Yep, you read that right. Be your own virtual gardener as you seed different species of plants and watch them grow together with your productivity the longer you don’t touch your phone. What’s more, you can even collect in-game tokens and exchange every 2,500 for a real tree to be planted in the world. Getting work done and giving back to the environment? Two (green) thumbs up!

Forest is available on the iOS app store for S$2.98 or on the Google Play store for free.

4. Create a schedule that works for you


The only person who knows how and when you work best is after all, yourself. Get more effective by setting up a routine customised to your schedule so you know you have to get down to business when it calls for it. How exactly should you go about doing this? Treat your study/work time as a daily mandatory activity, just as you would for having your meals or taking a shower – and you’ll feel the pinch when you fail to keep up with the regulation you’ve set yourself, and be all that more motivated to get off that couch and be productive.

5. DON’T multitask


Hold up – if you think doing more tasks at the same time will get things completed faster, you couldn’t be more wrong. Always remember that quality edges out quantity, and it’s imperative to complete responsibilities with dedication and commitment, rather than delivering slipshod work. Limit your full attention to one assignment at a time, only moving on to the next once you can check it off your to-do list with pride. 

6. Binge on the right food


We all already know chowing down junk food will leave you restless nursing a food coma, and extinguish any form of motivation to get work done. However, eating the right kinds of food will actually do quite the opposite – and get your brain juices flowing in all the right way. Foods like salmon, berries, nuts, avocados and bananas are delicious sources of energy and help induce that much-needed burst of productivity, while green tea stimulates your mind and improves memory retention. Also don’t forget good ol’ water throughout your day to keep yourself alert and hydrated!

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Got a unique productivity tip that works for you? Share with us in the comments below! 

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In honour of International Women’s Day, we shine the spotlight on 5 female-positive movements shaping the future. Do we really need to ask: Who Run The World? 

1. HeForShe

Emma Watson is known for getting the notice of guys all around the world, but she’s turned all that attention on her towards a greater issue. As the founder and an avid ambassador for the #HeForShe global movement, Emma continuously fights for the cause – which aims for bringing attention to gender equality and also engage men to be involved in the movement. 

We can participate in the campaign ourselves by logging on to their website and joining in the petition to track our country’s impact on the cause and discover more on what we can do to take action on the social issues in everyday life. Other celebrities who have voiced their support include Anne Hathaway and The Vamps’ James McVey.


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2. Ban Bossy

The Ban Bossy movement states “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy'” – signalling a negative undertone when girls stand up for their viewpoints and beliefs. And Ban Bossy isn’t only for adults. The positive message of the campaign also aims to reach out to young girls, instilling empowering virtues while encouraging them to take the lead and be unafraid to do so. As Queen Bey says: “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”

 3. Female Collective

The power of social media can work wonders. Just take Candance Reels’ Female Collective movement as an example. What started out simply as an Instagram account to promote awareness on feminism, Female Collective has propelled into a leading brand today – merging fashion, pop culture and art aesthetics. Cop a cool Insta-worthy graphic tee from their online store or follow their Instagram for daily inspirational female empowerment!

4. Raw Beauty Talks

Remember when Alicia Keys showed up at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards sporting a #Nomakeup look that sparked polarising public opinions? Her makeup choice (or lack thereof) is actually indirectly related to part of a bigger movement that is shaping how we view women in today’s society. Raw Beauty Talks, formed in 2013, is a progressive female movement that celebrates being comfortable in your own skin and redefines what it is to be “beautiful”. Who needs filters when you can feel flawless?


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5. The Body Image Movement

Loving and accepting yourself for who you truly are (and look like) is one of the most difficult and yet most liberating things one can do – The Body Image Movement will help guide you along. Founder Taryn Brumfitt is a one-woman game changer Australian championing the cause and has even recently produced and directed a documentary titled Embrace, a passion project film funded by Kickstarter that inspires to shed negative body perceptions instead of kilos. While the film is not yet available internationally, Taryn is targeting a worldwide release in the future so we also get the pleasure of joining her journey! In the meantime, join the movement by signing their petition on the website, and check out the uplifting trailer below!

Featured image credit: Debi Hasky via Pinterest.

What are some female empowering movements you support? Share with us in the comments below! 

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For most, University is likely to be the last leg of our education journey, and the most important one. Thus, it is imperative that you take a while to fully understand what you’re in for. Application to most local universities are underway, but fret not if you haven’t applied yet – for we have consolidated a list of things you should know before submitting your uni application.

Don’t Put Yourself Down

Have a very average GPA or not enough As to meet the Indicative Grade Profile (IGP) requirements of your desired course? This may make you pause and wonder if you should apply for that course at all. But the first thing you must remember is that the IGP is well, just indicative of your results. A quick look at the IGP from various years will tell you that it fluctuates from year to year. Depending on the supply and demand of this year, the IGP could turn out differently – perhaps there could be a larger intake of students that could result in a lower cut-off point, and that means your chances of getting in are higher! So go ahead and apply confidently, for the simple act of applying may just be the game changer (and because not applying means you have 0% of getting in). 

Do Thorough Homework

When comparing courses in different universities for the same major, be sure to delve into the specific modules that each university offers rather than harping on the honours system. Understand and consider if the modules that the course entails are to your liking as a whole; there may be the implementation of a bidding or first-come-first-serve system to assigning modules, so make sure to take a look at all the modules offered. Also, going to university can be a three to four years affair – do carefully consider factors like the facilities offered by each university and its distance from home. Trust us, these minute details do come into play during your tenure as a student.

Get Your Letter Of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation aka a testimonial can make all the difference. Be it from your school lecturers or employers from previous internships (best if they are related to the course you are aiming for), get someone who knows (and actually likes) you personally to do it, instead of someone who has higher designation – think the beloved school lecturer that appreciates your work versus the module coordinator who doesn’t teach you. When requesting for a testimonial, put in a gentle reminder for your referee to list the desirable qualities you’ve displayed that make you an excellent candidate for your desired course.

Know What You Want, But Be Realistic

University is all about you and your choice. Rather than blindly following the crowd (or your friends), hit pause and contemplate your passion and interests. Get off the beaten track, but remain grounded and realistic. It would be great foresight to learn about something that you can eventually ply your trade in a growing sector (eg. cybersecurity, data analytics and software engineering), but interest is of utmost importance! You may not get to embark on your passion immediately, but you can start by majoring in a course related to your passion, before steering your career towards that particular industry. After all, skill sets from every field will somehow be needed in every industry.

Discretionary Admission

If you don’t already know (well now you do!), universities accept student intake under the Discretionary Admission Scheme, where the discretionary admissions cap will increase to 15 percent this year. Looking beyond one’s academic achievements, your holistic achievements are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The scheme looks for extraordinary teens boasting outstanding achievements or portfolios that display passion, creativity and various outstanding qualities and values which would enable them to excel in their chosen course. However, these students must still have the minimum academic competency to pursue the university course. More info on DA stats can be found here.  

Application process: About Interviews & Appeals

Check if there are any prerequisite faculty tests and/or interviews that you’re required to sit for, and note down the important dates. You will mostly likely be required to compose a personal essay for interviews and appeals – prep yourself by looking for tips or guides to writing the most convincing personal essay. Here are some tips to help you get a better idea:

  • Emphasise on reasons why you should be chosen other than your academic performance
  • Know what your unique selling points are: in terms of achievements and personal interests related to your desired course
  • Reinforce your credibility with endorsement from people (testimonials)
  • A one-size-fits-all essay will not work. Give personal and specific reasons on why you should be granted the chance to study the course, whether it is a stepping stone to your dream career or if it’s parallel to your personal values

Deeply Consider If Uni Life Is Suitable For You

University life is about being as diverse as possible, so it is useful to form a support group of friends through active participation in CCAs, faculty camps or even hall activities – it is always a good thing to have a wide network; look to expand your social circle beyond your own faculty too. You’ve probably heard about it and it’s true: university is a tricky trinity of sleep, social life and grades where you can only seem to choose two, and it’s up to you to find the difficult balance. You have absolute free rein in how you manage your life and time, and in order to make the best out of your experience, discipline is key. And it’s only with tenacity and consistency will you get to see your graduation day. 

Keep Your Options Open

Apply to more than just your dream schools and don’t stubbornly fixate on just one university or course. Always have a Plan B – do consider private universities, foreign universities or even taking a gap year. Think about it: are you hell-bent on going to university just because everyone is going, or are you studying to pave the way for your future? If you’re sure about the route you want to follow, it doesn’t matter how long you take; getting there in the end is all that matters. Private universities mean hefty tuition fees, so it would be wise to carefully consider if the degree is something that you sincerely want to pursue. If you’re still lost, taking a gap year might be a good option to help recollect your thoughts and reconsider your options before jumping in.

Deciding on a suitable university course probably is one of the most crucial decisions you will ever make. We hope this article helped you have a clearer understanding on how things work before submitting your application. Good luck to all you university applicants!

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