For the majority of us, University is truly the last few years of our lives where we can afford to live in the moment and enjoy it fully – before we inevitably have to embrace adulthood.
“University is the time for you to enjoy and find your passion before you really have to become an adult” is something that my mom loves to constantly remind me of, and I do think there is some truth to it!
So, what better way is there to find your passion and spice up your university life?
Well, by joining CCA’s of course!
CCAs are a staple of every Singaporean school – from Primary to Tertiary level – serving as the means to provide for a holistic all-encompassing school life.
Whether you are a soon-to-be student or an already existing student of NUS, the topic of CCA’s is one that puzzles all – most of the time at least. But fret not, with this guide to CCAs in NUS, you can be sure to say goodbye to your uncertainties.
How do CCAs work in NUS?
CCAs work pretty much the way that you would expect them to, being very similar to how they work in JC or Polytechnic – you go to the CCA fair, you see what you like and then you sign up for it.
Like the aforementioned institutions, NUS’s version of the CCA fair is known as the Student Life Fair and is usually held in early August, when the new school semester starts.
As I am one of those who unfortunately matriculated during the dark COVID age, I personally don’t have any experience with the live Student Life Fair.
However, according to friends who have already graduated, during the live Student Life Fair, there will be booths set up for the individual CCAs – where you will be able to indicate your interest in them.
For example, certain CCAs such as NUS Dance Blast! hold try-outs for interested parties who had indicated interest during the fair. CCAs may also add you to a mailing list based on the contact information you provided when indicating interest.
A useful resource that you should consider checking out is the NUS Reddit. This CCA megathread, for example, which was done for the beginning of the AY21/22 provides a wealth of information that continues to be applicable even for the upcoming AY22/23.
With Reddit becoming increasingly popular for our generation, what better resource is there to use!
Is CCA compulsory in NUS?
CCAs are definitely not compulsory in NUS, so if you don’t feel like joining one, you can just opt-out from it. However, here are some reasons that might convince you to join one.
#1 Stress Relief
It’s no lie that University is tough, and I haven’t met a single Year 4 student that has said otherwise. With the mad rush of clearing assignments & projects and preparing for finals, we often get so caught up in the moment, that we forget to take a moment to just breathe.
CCAs are a great way of relieving stress, whether it’s dancing, doing sports or playing a musical instrument.
From affecting our energy levels to our moods and psychological wellbeing, the effects of stress are something that we should definitely not underplay. I’m sure we’ve all had moments in our lives where we just felt so unmotivated and sick of everything – and I doubt that any of us liked that feeling.
As such, having an outlet for stress is certainly important and a good reason to consider joining a CCA.
#2 Forging new friendships
CCAs are a great way of meeting new people from all faculties. With university education being highly centred around our field of studies, it’s often highly unlikely that we meet and mingle with individuals from another faculty.
Fortunately, CCAs serve as a terrific platform that solves this problem – by bringing together students from different faculties to enjoy a common interest. So you might be thinking, why is knowing people from different fields so important?
Well, with the rapidly changing world around us, we never really know what kind of jobs or skill sets will stay relevant. Being able to network and have connections, ensures that if you ever do want to enter a different field, you have a place to begin.
However, if we look past that, University is truly the time for us to forge new friendships and learn new things – especially since NUS is home to so many international students. Hearing the different lifestyles of people from abroad has always interested me because their lives are always so different from ours.
You never know, they might just introduce you to something that you never knew you would enjoy!
#3 Safe space to try out something new
Doing something new is never easy, especially if you’re all alone.
Using myself as an example, dancing used to be so awkward for me when I first started, as I didn’t know anyone around. I had this irrational fear of being judged by other more experienced dancers whenever I went for public classes – as I always felt like an odd one out, being a new dancer.
As such, I will always stand by the point that CCAs serve as an excellent platform to explore new interests.
How do I join a CCA in NUS?
There are a few ways that you can join a CCA in NUS.
#1 Student Life Fair
This is the most standard way of joining a CCA, no matter the level of education you’re in, where you sign up for it at the CCA fair – AKA the Student Life Fair for NUS. As mentioned above, during the Student Life Fair, there will be various booths set up around the campus for each CCA.
From there, the CCA will contact you based on the details you provided to either update with the details of the try-outs (if applicable) or to let you know when the CCA officially begins.
However, due to COVID, NUS has unfortunately not been able to hold a live Student Life Fair for the past few years. But thankfully, there are still other means which you can make use of!
There is one feature about the CCA system in NUS, that sets it apart from Polytechnic or JC!
This being that there is actually a whole web portal dedicated to CCAs and extracurricular school events – known as NUSync.
NUSync provides a quick and easy way to sign-up for a CCA, making life a lot easier for folks like me who don’t intend to go to the CCA fair.
I mean, taking a 1.5-hour bus ride to school, just to sign up for a CCA, doesn’t really seem like such a great idea to me!
You can access NUSync by clicking on the link here. From there, just log in with your NUSnet ID and you will be all set to explore the page.
Clicking on ORGANIZATIONS, on the homepage, will bring you to a page which displays a list of all the clubs (CCAs) in NUS. You may make use of the filters on the left-hand side of the page to look for specific CCAs.
When you do finally find a CCA that piques your interest, go ahead and click on it. Clicking on it will direct you to a new window that displays more information about the club.
- Information about the try-outs (not every CCA may display this)
- Description of the clubs’ activities and achievements
- Their training schedule
- Links to their Instagram or Facebook pages
- Club email
- The current Committee members
Using NUS Basketball as an example, certain CCAs may also have a “JOIN” button at the top (boxed in red). Contrary to what the word “Join” means, clicking on “JOIN” does not mean that you have successfully become part of the CCA.
After the “Join” Button is clicked, it will become greyed out and state “Membership pending“. If you see membership pending, it means you have successfully signed up for the CCA.
Certain CCAs, such as NUS Jazz Band, may also have audition forms which you can fill in. These are usually found attached at the bottom of the page under the “Forms” section. After filling it up, the CCA will contact you with more details about the auditions. Alternatively, you can also reach out to them after filling in the form to request for additional details.
As such, do give NUSync a go if you want to join a CCA but have no clue what is available!
However, some CCAs may not have a “JOIN” button on their page, which brings us to the 3rd way of signing up for a CCA.
#3 Social Media
With Social Media being one of the defining features of the 21st century, it should come as no surprise to you that you can sign up for a CCA on Social Media.
As mentioned above, some CCAs may not have a “JOIN‘ button that you may click. In this case, do go ahead and click on either the Facebook or Instagram link on the CCA’s page on NUSync.
Let us use NUS Aquathlon as an example:
If the “JOIN” button was missing, the next possible option that you could take would be to click on the social media links at the bottom of the CCA’s description. After clicking on the Social Media link, you would be directed to their social media page – Instagram page in this case.
More often than not, CCAs will usually attach a sign-up link in their bio or in a post that is meant for promotion of the CCA. And if you really are unable to find a link, you can try directly contacting them on their social media page!
What’s the difference between an NUS CCA and a Hall CCA?
You might have heard horror stories of people staying in hall having CCA 5 days a week. And I’m here to tell you that…
That is true!
Most of my friends who had stayed in hall often had 3-4 hall CCA’s, which amounted to an intense 4-5 days a week. So that begs the question, is there a difference between Hall CCA and NUS CCA?
To put it simply, there is a difference between them, where NUS CCA’s are completely separate from Hall CCA’s. Here are some comparable differences between the two.
#1 Obligation to join a CCA
For NUS CCAs, you don’t exactly have any obligation to join them and it is totally fine for you to go through your 4 years without ever joining one. However, this is not the case for Hall CCAs. Hall CCA’s are pretty much compulsory if you intend to stay in hall after your 1st year.
The reason why Hall CCA’s are ‘compulsory‘ is that for each hall CCA that you actively participate in, you get ‘Hall Points‘. These ‘Hall Points‘ serve as the determining factor to whether you can continue staying in Hall or not.
As such, if you do intend to stay in Hall past your 1st year, be prepared to join multiple Hall CCA’s!
#2 “Team” that you represent & the competitions that you will join
If you’re in an NUS CCA, you will be representing NUS and if you’re in a Hall CCA, you will be representing your Hall. Thus, if you intend to participate and represent NUS in any competition, you have to join the NUS team under the NUS CCA.
Hall CCA’s are mainly geared towards inter-hall games & recreational competitions – AKA competitions within the school – and thus, it is highly unlikely that you will join any competitive events under your Hall.
On the other hand, NUS CCAs are more geared toward competitive events between the various universities – such as the Institute -Varsity-Polytechnic Games (IVP).
Thus, you can imagine that the Hall CCAs are essentially laidback and less competitive versions of the NUS CCAs.
Here are some frequently asked questions!
Are CCA commitments very time-consuming?
CCAs tend to have around 2 trainings per week, where one of them usually takes place on a Saturday. Thus, I wouldn’t say that it is very time-consuming as having 2 trainings per week is the norm for CCAs, even during Secondary School.
Note: Not all CCA’s have weekend trainings, some have 2 weekday trainings instead.
However, this can change during the busier periods for a CCA, such as during the competition season for Sports CCAs or during the production period for Arts CCAs.
Thus, if you do intend to take part in performances or represent NUS in competitions, do expect slightly higher CCA commitments during certain periods of the year.
However, if you intend to join CCAs purely for recreational purposes, I would say that the commitment isn’t very high!
Is attendance during CCA compulsory?
If you are intending to do performances (Arts CCA’s) or join competitions (Sports CCA’s), attendance is usually compulsory, to ensure that you meet certain standards set.
Certain CCAs do also have a minimum attendance percentage that you have to hit to retain membership to the club. As such, do check with CCAs that you are interested in to find out their attendance requirements – if they have any that is.
Are CCAs important for your portfolio?
Based on the experiences of friends who have already graduated, CCA’s aren’t really as important as some may make it out to be. While in secondary school, a good CCA grade might have helped you in your ‘O’ levels, in University, it doesn’t matter as much.
As such, I would say to not force yourself to join a CCA just for the sake of your portfolio.
The exception to this, however, would be if you join a CCA where you can pick up or hone skills that matter to the industry you are interested in. For example, joining The Photographic Society of NUS if you’re interested in doing a photography-related job in the future.
Thus, joining CCAs can have its benefits, but it is definitely not a “must do or you will lose out” kind of scenario!
Should I join a CCA in my 1st year or wait till future years to find something?
It’s best to join a CCA in your 1st year if you are open to it! There’s no better time to join as university life will only get busier and tougher as you progress through it.
Hopefully, this guide has been able to serve its purpose and helped to answer questions that you might have had.
And if you don’t have a CCA already, you know what to do!
Results may play a part in your decision on whether you want to join a CCA. You can find out more about getting a First Class Honours in NUS, or what happens when you fail a module.