Sara Oon is a sophomore at Princeton University. She says education is something that is important, both in the classroom as well as out of the classroom. “Well I think education is necessary process that you have to go through in order to gain the skills that you’re required for the rest of your life and in the process it keeps you thinking and gets you in the habit of being more acceptive of learning,” she says.
“To me education is not something in the classroom or what you learn from your professors, but also learning about people through talking to others, interaction with others, learning about different cultures, different beliefs and in the process become more understanding, more worldly kind of person,” she says. “It is not just what you get out of a textbook, but how to survive.”
Selecting Princeton as the place to study happened while going on a college tour with her parents. “I’m from Singapore and I knew that I would get the best education here because I like the liberal arts education as oppose to in Singapore where it’s the British system, so you have to choose your major before you apply to an university and you have to stick with the same subject area for the entire studies while at the university,” she says.
“My parents took me on a college tour of a few universities in the U.S. and out of all those that I visited I liked Princeton the best.”
Sara is 19 years old. In high school Sara did a paper, which led her to her major now which is Operations Research and Financial Engineering. “I read up quite a bit about Operations Research before because their optimization seems to fascinate me and I also did a research project on it in high school and I managed to get my scientific paper published so I have quite a bit of background in operations research and now I am hoping to move towards finance side of that subject.”
Sara says one of her challenges since being here is adjusting to the education system at Princeton. “Well it is a very different experience from the Singapore system and at first it was quite difficult adjusting not just to the culture, but also to the education system. We learn different things in school so when everyone from different high schools got together they talk about what they learn and it was a lot more similar than what I had learn and the education system is different because in Singapore we are use to having a big exam at the end of two years so we have been studying and none of the test in between count at all towards our grade,” she says.
“Over here it is different because participation counts, you have your midterm assignments and everything counts in a way towards your grade so it small for a consistence effort, but in Singapore its completely different so at first I wasn’t use to it, but now I am getting the hang of it after a year.”
One thing Sara says she has come to realize is the wide variety of cultures and international scope many students have that attend Princeton. “Officially, they say that ten percent of students here are international, but I think that a lot of students at least fifty-percent of students here have some kind of international experience or a perspective, because I have met so many people who are not considered international sense because they graduated from local high school, but they spent part of their lives in other countries or their parents are from another country so they know a lot about it or they have traveled very extensively or some of them who were born here and studied partly here and partly overseas all these people have contributed to diversity and a very international campus,” she says. “One with a very global perspective and a very rich variety of cultures.
Graduation for Sara is in 2010. She says she is considering graduate school. “I’m thinking about going to professional possibly business school or maybe get an MPA, Master’s in Public Administration. I think my major is very versatile so I can do basically anything I want with it,” she says.
“Most people go to the finance side of the job, and that is definitely a possibly for me, but I think I am open to a more any kind of prosessional.