Applying For University As A NSF (Guide)


National Service is a pivotal moment in the lives of all Singaporean males – where we transition from plain old civilians into the armed warriors of Singapore, enduring 2 long years of training. 

But what happens after that? 

Since you’ve found your way here, I’m taking a pick and guessing that you probably want to go to University and also have some questions about it. 

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Source: Imgflip

Having been in your position before, allow me to share with you the experiences of my friends and Ihopefully clearing up any doubts that you have in the process! 

And on a side note, if you also are having some uncertainties with regards to university applications as a poly student, do check out this article.

Without further delay, let’s get to it!

Can I apply for university before NS?

You can apply for university before, after or even during your NS. This means that it is entirely up to you to decide when you want to apply

It is not required for you to complete your NS before applying for university.

If I am accepted into university before NS, will my NS be deferred?

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Source: CMPB

Unfortunately, you will not be able to defer your NS if you are accepted into university. As stated by CMPB, deferment is not granted for degree courses – aka university.

Deferment is only granted if you are pursuing your FIRST ‘A’ level, polytechnic diploma or equivalent pre-university qualification. So if you are accepted into university, your enrollment will be deferred to the year that you ORD.

“I was accepted into NUS in 2019. However due to NS, my enrollment was pushed back into August 2021 as I ORD-ed in April of that year.”

However, this can be slightly different for you, if you ORD after the semester starts. For instance, some of my friends who ORD-ed in November 2021, had their matriculation pushed back into the following year of 2022.

“As such, most of them took are currently working and waiting for their school term to begin in August.”

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Source: NS

In the event that you don’t want to have your matriculation pushed back, you can actually disrupt your NSto begin your semester before you ORD – and this I will touch in the following section!

“If they had chosen to disrupt their NS, they would have matriculated in August 2021, instead of having it pushed back to 2022”

As far as I can remember, the deferment is also automatically done by the school as I didn’t have to specifically apply for anything. However, if any issues do arise with your deferment, you can just contact your school’s admission office to let them know about it.

Note: For more specifics on deferment, such as cut-off age or the eligible courses, do follow this link.

Does the application process have any difference depending on when I apply?

The application process is the same whether you decide to apply before, after or during your NS.

However, a consideration that you might want to take into account while deciding when to apply is the possibility of being called for an admission interview. For example, I had to attend an interview at NTU for their Earth Systems Science course before my application was considered.

“As such, there is a chance that you might be scheduled to attend an interview while you are in camp if you apply during your NS.”

In such an event, you can either:

  1. Request for time-off from your platoon sergeant or officer to attend the interview – they usually are quite understanding on this matter and you won’t be required to take leave for it. 
    • However, this is still subjected to uncertainty as it ultimately depends on your training schedule – so if you have high-keys to attend such as outfield or live firing, you will not be allowed to leave camp for the interview
    • Do also take note to inform your commanders in advance (as early as you can) about the interview so that they can plan your trainings smoothly around it with the higher-ups
  2. Inform the university and request for either an online interview or for a rescheduling – for online interviews, your commanders will arrange for you to have it in camp

So as you can see, there might be a tad bit more hassle in dealing with university matters in NS and thus, certainly a valid consideration to take into account.

What is “Disruption for further studies”?

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Source: CMPB

To simply put it, “Disruption for further studies” can be seen as taking a break from NS to begin university alongside your peers. 

While this might sound like a promisingly good deal, here are some things to take note of:

  • Disruption is not granted for pre-university qualifications (e.g. GCE ‘A’ Level, polytechnic diploma, ITE Diploma, etc.)
  • Disruption is only granted for degree courses conducted by educational institutions that confer their own qualifications (NUS, NTU, etc.) or are funded by MOE (Singapore Institute of Technology)
  • Disruption is only granted if you enlist later than your school cohort – which would result in you in ORD-ing later and missing out on the start of university
  • You will be required to serve the remaining duration of your NS after you have completed your course

To make it clearer for you, imagine this situation:

  • You enlist in October 2021, while many of your peers enlist in May 2021
  • As such, their ORD is in April 2023 and they will be able to start university in August 2023
  • However, as you enlisted in October in 2021, you would only ORD in September 2023 and miss the start of university in August 2023

“In such a scenario, you will be eligible to apply for disruption so that you will be able to start school alongside your peers in August 2023.”

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Source: CMPB

However, to apply for disruption, do note that you will be required to submit documentation as proof of enrollment. You will also have to submit your application at least 3 months before your requested date of disruption.

“So if you intend to disrupt your service at the start of May, the latest you can submit your application is end-January/ early-February”

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Source: CMPB

And as mentioned, you will still be required to complete the remainder of your NS duration after completion of your studies – so it’s not like you get to ORD early and get a reduced NS duration.

So if you disrupt your service at the start of May, but set to ORD in September, you will be required to serve your remaining 4 months after graduation.

For more information, do visit the link here.

Should I apply for university before, after or during NS?

Here are some considerations that my friends and I had when we were deciding when to apply for university!

1) How certain you are about what degree you want to pursue

Personally, I knew that I was only going to pursue a degree in Geography or the Sciences, so I didn’t really need to take time to consider what to apply for and just decided to apply early before NS.

“However, for many of my friends, they weren’t really sure on what to pursue in university as they didn’t intend to continue the field that they were in Polytechnic.”

As such, they only applied towards the end of NS as they took the 2 years to look through and decide on what they wanted to do. For example, I had a friend who, after 2 years, decided to follow his passion and do a degree in Design despite having a diploma in Engineering.

Thus, I would say that if you are unsure of what to study, maybe it would be a better decision to apply towards the end of your NSso that you can properly choose what to do

Going to university is definitely not cheap, so make it worth your money and effort!

2) Tuition Fees

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Source: SMU

Fun fact if you didn’t already know! 

Your tuition fees are actually tied to when you apply, so being accepted into a university early can help you avoid paying increased school fees. As stated by SMU, the tuition fees of returning NS-men are based on the year of their application and offer.

“So if their application and offer was in 2019, but they only begin school in 2021, their fees will still be based on the 2019 fee.”

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Source: NUS
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Source: NTU

NUS and NTU also follow this where your tuition fee is based on the year in which you accepted their offer

As such, it might be beneficial to apply and be accepted into university early so that you won’t be affected by an increase in tuition fees.

3) Increased IGP (Indicative Grade Profile)

IGP or Indicative Grade Profile reflects the grades of the students accepted into a particular major – giving you a rough idea of how well you should be scoring to be accepted.

As more individuals apply to university each year, the IGP follows suit and increases toomaking it even harder to get into university as the minimum grades you should be scoring increases.

“Back when I first wrote my university guide, the minimum GPA for NUS Law was only 3.81 but just one year later, it has been updated to 3.87, which is a stark increase.”

Thus, if you do intend to apply later, be wary that the cutoffs might have increased.

My thoughts on when to apply

I undoubtedly do feel that applying to university early (before NS) does have its perks as it means you don’t have to stress out about what to do post-NS – already having a path laid in front of you to follow.

However, I definitely do also think that you shouldn’t apply to university early just for the sake of it. If you are unsure of what to pursue, I strongly feel that you should take your time to properly decide on what to pursue.

University is not easy and studying a course that you don’t enjoy is not only going to be a chore but also not worth the fees that you are paying.

As such, this would be my suggestion:

  • Apply before NS only if you’re sure about what you plan to pursue
  • Apply towards the end of your NS and take the 2 years to think through what you are interested in pursuing


Ending it off, pursuing further education post-NS is for sure a good thing. However, do also take your time to properly consider your options before jumping head in!

Wishing you the best of luck with your application!

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Isaac Lim

Always looking to try new things and blogging is one of them!

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