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8 SMU Hacks To Help Students Live Their Best Uni Life From Freshie To Postgraduate

SMU hacks & tips

You’ve read all the university application tips, are prepping for interviews, and anxiously awaiting your acceptance into your dream school. If you’re gunning to be an official SMU student, here are some tried-and-tested SMU hacks shared by current students and recent alumni.

From affordable food alternatives to helpful Telegram groups, these tips will come in handy as you start your life as an SMU student. Read on to find out more:

1. Find nearby hidden hawkers for super affordable meals

There’s undeniably a variety of economical F&B options on campus, including the ever-affordable Koufu, with most of the establishments offering attractive discounts for SMU students. But if you want to save even more money, go for hawker centres instead. Save the campus stalls for when you don’t have the time to go out and dabao.

Albert Centre Market and Food Centre
Albert Centre Market and Food Centre.
Image credit: Eatbook

For one, you can walk to the Waterloo Food Summons hawker centre for cheap cai fan – pricing is around $3.50 for 2 vegetables and 1 meat. Albert Centre Market and Food Centre in Bugis is also another option to consider. It’s a quick 10-minute walk from SMU and you have a slew of yummy hawker options including yong tau foo and fishball noodles.

2. Join SMU Telegram groups for free food

I’m sure many of us are already in many Telegram channels, so here are some more useful ones to join. For one, the SMU Buffet Clearers channel is the go-to when you’re hunting for some free food. At the same time, you’ll be playing a part in reducing food wastage. The group shares updates on where leftover buffets can be found across campus, so you can scurry on over with your takeaway containers to cop some food.

 SMU Telegram groups
You can also post school surveys here and garner more responses.
Image credit: Isabel Lim

On the other hand, Ask.SMU is a channel you can join for lost and found items. Say you’ve lost your student card or laptop charger. Before you fall into blind panic, check the channel and see if anyone’s found your items. Or send an SOS and cross your fingers that someone locates your belongings.

3. Use free websites to choose profs that match your learning style


Bidding for your school modules is as tough as choosing your future career, no cap. Before you finalise your decision, be sure to make use of free websites such as AfterClass to evaluate each module.

The website is intuitive and easy to use. Select the module you’re interested in, then browse through the reviews left by previous students. You’ll be able to find out details including the amount of workload and each professor’s teaching style – so you can decide what works best for you. Of course, you could also check with your seniors and former SMU students.

Speaking of which, if you’re an SMU alumni, you’ll get to save up to $5,000 in postgraduate tuition or get a $10,000 discount on the EMBA programme.

4. Skip the stairs & take the underpass instead if you’re lazy

SMU’s a pretty huge campus, let’s be real. All buildings in SMU are connected, so if you’re getting from one end to the other, there are several routes you can take.

 air-conditioned underpass
Image credit: The SMU Blog 

For example, opt for the air-conditioned underpass if you need refuge from the heat. The School of Computing and Information Systems 1 and 2, School of Accountancy, and Lee Kong Chian School of Business are connected via the underpass.

But if you’re rushing to class, walk through the ground level instead – it’s much faster. The School of Accountancy, School of Social Sciences/College of Integrative Studies, Yong Pung How School of Law, and Connexion are all linked at Level 3.

5. Park at Fort Canning Park to save money

Drivers, listen up. If you’re planning to park on campus for a full day of classes, you can purchase the Day Pass at Student Services Hub for $12.

Fort Canning Park parking

Fort Canning Park is an alternative if you aren’t staying for the whole day. Parking rates go from $2.20/hour, and parking is FOC after 5pm and on weekends. Plus, it’s directly connected to the Yong Pung How School of Law. If the car park is full, NTUC Centre charges $3/entry from 5pm-11pm – so those with night classes or CCAs can consider parking here.

Nonetheless, parking in the area is limited, so you’re encouraged to take public transport. And being in the city, SMU is so accessible anyway, with 2 MRT stations – Bras Basah and Bencoolen – connected directly to campus. Dhoby Ghaut and City Hall stations are also just a short walk away.

6. Speak to trained “peer helpers” for free if you need a listening ear

SMU Peer Helpers
Image credit: SMU

Everyone can benefit from speaking to a peer, whether it’s to share about the stress of school or personal life. SMU Peer Helpers are located at Cosy Haven, behind the Student Services Hub at the B1 Concourse of the Li Ka Shing Library, and you can speak to them for free.

They’re full-time students who have gone through thorough training by professionals, and are equipped to help fellow SMU students. But if you just need a quiet spot on campus, Cosy Haven has comfy beanbags and sofas for you to chill on. The place is open from weeks 3-7 and 9-13 during school sessions, and closed on weekends and PHs.

On that note, if you’re looking for guidance when it comes to work experience, you’ll be happy to know that all SMU students get a dedicated career counsellor. So, here’s our advice: fix an appointment in your first semester itself to get a headstart in thinking about your internships and industry attachments. This service is completely free and making use of it makes you a savvy student.

7. Sign up for CCA trial sessions before committing

CCA trial sessions
Image credit: SMU 

CCAs are a great way to immerse yourself in the school spirit. And there are more than 150 clubs at SMU to choose from. So, if you don’t know where to start, sign up for CCA trial sessions first before committing to a club. There’s usually a small fee of $6-$8 for these trials, but these pay for your equipment rentals.

Some clubs, like diving, charge a higher fee, depending on the cost of equipment. Just remember to check before signing up. Trial sessions generally are for 1 day, and slots are mostly released on Sundays.

8. Chill at the pantry at SMU Connexion during peak lunch hours

Sometimes lunch hours can get pretty busy on the campus eateries. During times like these, make a beeline for the pantry at SMU Connexion (SMUC). It’s a (not-so-secret) hideout for students to hang out and have their meals together.

SMU Connexion
The Social Kitchen.
Image credit: SMU

There are some days when you’ll inevitably also have to stay back in school till late, whether it’s to mug for exams or train with your CCA mates for upcoming competitions. If you need to heat your leftover food, take advantage of the free microwaves and ovens at the pantry too.

Alternatively, the same provisions can be found at the Social Kitchen located at the YMCA building near SMU School of Economics. You can also save money and bring food from home – then heat it up with the microwaves. BTW, do be considerate and treat these machines with care. After all, they’re shared by the whole school.

Bookmark these tips & hacks for SMU

Excited to begin your journey at SMU? Take a page out of your seniors’ book and save these hacks for future use. Whether you’re taking an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, if you have decided that SMU is the school for you, it’s time to start applying.

Image credit: SMU

We’ll be the first to admit it – choosing your future school can be pretty daunting. So if you’re still yo-yo-ing between various options, let us tell you that there are plenty of reasons to consider SMU. These include higher average salaries for graduates, a wealth of overseas experience opportunities, and extra support for those pivoting towards entrepreneurship.

global experience
Getting to travel overseas with other students is a great way to make new friends.
Image credit: SMU

Speaking of global experience, it’s pretty much guaranteed that every SMU student will get to travel. Apart from student exchanges with more than 200 partner universities, one can do so via overseas internships and community service too.

Application deadlines

  • Undergraduate programme: 19th March 2024
  • Postgraduate programmes (full-time & part-time):
    August 2024 intake – 31st May 2024
    January 2025 intake – 31st October 2024
Apply for an undergrad or postgrad programme at SMU

This post was brought to you by SMU.
Cover image adapted from: SMU