Pass/fails are the best. We had them in our first year at SUTD, but we forget how important they can be. They’re not just a sign of not having to “work as hard”, they represent time – time for you to spend more time focusing on the people and things that you love.

I went to NUS for SUSEP 2021, and I took it up because I was getting stressed out about academics to be honest. I wasn’t sure I chose the right path or industry to work in, and I was lowkey starting to have a huge existential crisis. I thought that having academic freedom would allow me more time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, so I took it up – and I was right. SUSEP was the best decision I made for my mental health, as I learned to love learning again. It sounds nerdy but let me explain.

SUTD is admittedly pretty tough – on top of all the content we squeeze in for a term, we have pretty high-level projects to deliver and lessons up until our exams. Having pass/fail modules means I had the freedom to relax a little, focus more on things that I was passionate about, so I took up an internship with a company I really liked. Working on projects that I enjoyed, both for school and the company, made me feel alive again. I found myself loving to learn, as I did before I got into this stressful existential crisis, as learning became more about just absorbing information for the fun of it rather than fighting to get an A.

But it’s not like I half-assed my work either, I actually found it more fulfilling and started looking forward to doing the work. I ended up producing some great work for both my company and my school, and made a few friends along the way even though they were all online classes.

TLDR: the student who enjoys the learning process will always have a better time than the student who slaves away for that grade. You’re more likely to actually retain what you learned and use it in the future, and you have a better time overall in school. So yeah, take the pass/fail term, especially if you want a mental health break – it’s really great!

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