30 Mar 2021

Class of 2020 Sharing – Elton Lam


My name is Elton, and I am a chemical engineering student at Imperial College London.

The most challenging aspect of my transition from high school to university was the complexity of modules. When I was applying for university, I’d hear rumours that “IB will be the hardest years of your life”. That was not the case for me. The difficulty of your course can only be determined by you. Although it’s great, actually it’s encouraged, that you talk to people who are walking the path you’re in but do keep in mind everyone experiences everything differently. The difficulty in the course content was a drastic spike for me. Of course, to overcome this, I simply spent a bit more time outside of lectures to go over material to ensure I thoroughly understand the content.

Since I am currently studying in a remote setting, there is only so much I can experience. However, I was glad that I could learn and chat with different professors that are experts in their respective fields. I am genuinely interested in the course I am studying, so learning all these new modules was exciting for me. Again, with remote learning, I am sure you’ve faced challenges as well. But to pinpoint a challenge with respect to university, I would say is the balance between academics and non-academic activities. Studying in a different time zone meant that it was difficult to spend time with family and friends, and it’s just as big of a challenge to meet new people remotely. Time management is extremely important in these times, especially when the university grants you a lot of freedom to not attend live lectures or tutorials.

There would be some of you who may have absolutely no idea or vague ideas as to what you want to do after IB. This is not a problem at all. However, just because it’s not an urgent task, it is an important decision of your life. Take a weekend or so to analyse possible choices for post IB; you may realise that university may not be a good fit for you, and that is perfectly fine. But how will you know whether you have made the right decision? You won’t. But it’s in your best interest to find out what you like, what your strengths are, and this way you can make informed choices. Talk to your parents, your teachers, and schedule meetings with your HE counsellors; they will want to help you make better choices for your future.