All Yale-NUS students are sorted into one of the three Residential Colleges (RC), Saga, Elm, or Cendana, which they will call home for the rest of their college experience. Yale-NUS’ model for residential life, however, differs greatly from both Yale University’s and NUS’ model of residential living. At Yale-NUS, living on campus does not equate to a bed conveniently located near one’s classroom. RCs intentionally build intimate nested communities for every student to call home, and community members who will create shared memories that they will carry with for a long time, even after graduating from Yale-NUS. Every RC houses students across the four class years, and also tries to replicate the same diversity of student demographics that the entire college has. RCs also design and execute signature programmes to build a distinct RC culture. Living on campus grows students into independent and mature individuals who become accustomed to living with others who come from different countries or backgrounds. Residential living is one of the first places where Yale-NUS students learn to communicate interculturally, and resolve issues collectively.
Each RC is led by a Rector and Assistant Dean (AD) of Students who are both faculty members of the college. Rectors design and create the academic culture for their own RC, and often invite high-profile academics and guests on campus to hold Rector’s Teas, which is an intimate gathering for students to learn more about the guest’s research or professional career. Assistant Deans are the primary academic advisors for students charting their academic careers in Yale-NUS, and also provide academic and wellness counselling for students in need. All first-year students will be assigned a Residential College Advisor (RCA), a junior or senior year student who will welcome them into college, participate in orientation, design community building programmes on campus, and be the first line of help for any kind of issue or problem. The sophomore, junior, and senior cohorts are each supported by a Dean’s Fellow (DF), typically a recent graduate from a liberal arts and sciences institution, who support the entire cohort for all their needs. Besides taking the lead on academic and wellness programming in the RC, they also provide academic counselling, follow-up care for mental and physical health crises, and serve on various committees in the Dean of Student’s Office. The RCAs, DFs, and ADs are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help any student if the need arises on campus.
A Community of Living and Learning
Besides students, Rectors, Assistant Deans of Students, Dean’s Fellows, and some faculty members also stay on campus to build a culture of living well and learning holistically in an intimate yet intercultural setting. Residential staff and faculty often meet students in the dining halls, courtyards, butteries, and other public spaces, which facilitates conversations and building relationships that carry on even after graduation. These staff and faculty members have deliberately chosen to live on campus as they take an active interest in student affairs, and brings them closer to supporting and mentoring students.
Vibrant Campus Life
The campus is always a hive of activity, and this is especially true once classes have ended for the day. Various events by independent student organisations begin after classes end, and many departments run their programmes after classes to accommodate student schedules. On a typical evening in Yale-NUS, a visitor walking through campus can easily find: an academic talk or panel, pre-professional workshops run by students, athletes training for a competition, a performing arts group rehearsing for their next show, the butteries serving home-cooked meals at affordable price with students hanging out while taking a break from studying, visual artists working in the studio, a meeting by leisure groups or a cultural club, social-identity groups offering support space for the community, writers working on their next article for publishing, or a group of friends up in a sky garden trying to coordinate a midnight birthday surprise for one of their suitemates!