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Last Friday, I was called to the School of Economics office because one of the administration staff heard that I want to transfer from Economics to Social Science degrees. Yes, they are two separate degree programs in SMU even though Economics is a a social science.

Forget why I want to transfer (senior thesis in political science), or that if I remove all my economics courses from my transcript I would move from high merit to magna cum laude, or that two of my best terms, by far, are terms I didn’t do any economics courses.

What I was told is that the School of Economics need to consent and negotiate with the School of Social Science on me transfering. Why should it be their concern? If I transfer out of SMU, it isn’t as if the School of Economics need to negotiate and consent with that. If they are going to treat it like a normal transfer, identical in its ramifications as external-to-SMU transfers, why can’t they just let the School of Social Science decide on its own?

And yes, the ramifications is huge: they would be treating me like a new student. Because one year after I entered university, the government decided that giving a high tuition grant to foreigners isn’t politically palatable, and decided to peg it at 50% of what Singaporeans get (presently, I get 90%), as well as the fact that in the past three years, fees in SMU have skyrocketed – it is a significant increase in fees.

It doesn’t make sense. I would have been a student continously since 2006 if it suits SMU and not when it suits SMU.

I can pay the penalty. What perturbs me is that I’m not willing to pay the penalty. I came to SMU only because its fees was competitive to my other options. Instead, I would essentially be paying a substantial sum for the pleasure of doing the capstone seminar and senior thesis in political science, which doesn’t seem worth it. My GPA has already been heavily damaged, so it isn’t as if my degree would be more attractive to potential employers — and in fact, since I would be forced to work in Singapore anyway, and most Singaporean employers think your major is important in hiring, the value of my degree would drop.

So essentially, I’m between a rock and a hard place. Either decision is completely suboptimal to me.

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