Connecting the dots

Singaporean Banking and Finance student Marc Tan on sharing experiences with students from around the world at LSE’s Summer School
BSc Banking and Finance student Marc Tan
Understanding the causes of things: SIM student Marc Tan
True to its Latin motto, rerum cognoscere causas (to understand the causes of things), LSE’s syllabus and learning environment focus heavily on connecting the dots

In Steve Job’s story about ‘Connecting the Dots’ at the commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, he outlined the importance of staying hungry and foolish in life, and how such an attitude will eventually show you why the lessons in the past have led to who you are in the present.

Before I attended the LSE summer school programme, conventional thinking told me that studying abroad was much more relaxing and that results were not everything. However, this is certainly not true. No matter which country you are in, as long as you remain in a competitive group of students, results will always be important. Likewise, when employers say that results are not everything, it does not mean that grades are not important. While exams cannot truly measure your intelligence, good grades could be an indicator of your work ethic and lead you to securing a good job.

“Very often, the professors would use stories from philosophers, thinkers and historians to relate to what is happening in the world today.”

True to its Latin motto, rerum cognoscere causas (to understand the causes of things), LSE’s syllabus and learning environment focus heavily on connecting the dots. As most exam questions were geared towards theoretical application, I found myself not needing to memorise a lot. Very often, the professors would use stories from philosophers, thinkers and historians to relate to what is happening in the world today. Most of the students I met were naturally driven to know more and we spent a lot of time together, studying and sharing our experiences. I particularly enjoyed the teaching style of the professors, as well as being in an environment of highly motivated students.

At LSE, I met people from all over the world who shared with me their experiences back in their home countries. While many were from developed nations, it was the stories of students from regions of unrest that truly struck me: that how you think and how far you go in life depends heavily on the circumstances of your environment. You may be the smartest and the most hard-working student in the world, but without opportunities, you may never go far. In social sciences, this is known as social mobility and societies which have good social mobility provide people with an environment to recover from setbacks and strive for self-improvement. Imagine a student who does poorly in school in Singapore, compared to a student in a war-torn nation or a student born in an agricultural village. What are the chances that one can become better off from persistence and hard work? Chances are the odds favour the Singaporean student.

“For undergraduates who are thinking if it’s worthwhile to go for a summer course, I strongly encourage them to sign up for the LSE summer school and take an advanced course if they can.”

marc-stonehengeOutside of LSE, I discovered London to be a lovely city! I enjoyed the scenic boat rides, the awesome food (especially the food chain, Burger and Lobster) and the short time it took to travel out of the city into scenic towns such as Bath, or historical sites like Stonehenge. The UK has plenty of wonderful natural sceneries, as well as many beautiful quiet towns for city-dwellers to escape to. I enjoyed my stay in London tremendously and would definitely hope for a prolonged stay there in the near future.

For undergraduates who are thinking if it’s worthwhile to go for a summer course, I strongly encourage them to sign up for the LSE summer school and take an advanced course if they can. LSE is famous for its Social Sciences courses and its advanced modules in Economics and Finance do live up to its academic rigour. Furthermore, you will make fantastic friends who will become part of an enjoyable learning journey at LSE!