SINGAPORE - Cheri Wee entered School of the Arts Singapore (Sota) dreaming of becoming a world-renowned ballerina. But in October, she will be pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology and philosophy at the University of Oxford.
"Sota gave me a safe space to fail, for experimentation," said the 19-year-old, who received the Prime Minister's Valedictorian award as the school's most outstanding student in her cohort, during Sota's fifth annual Awards Day on Monday (May 15).
"Six long years of blood, sweat and tears, and I've found that my place isn't as a dancer onstage."
She is not a rarity among Sota students, who first come in focused on practising an arts discipline.
But over 70 per cent of its graduates have gone on to pursue non-arts related university courses, said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu, in an address to award recipients.
At Sota, a maximum of 200 students per cohort take a six-year integrated arts and academic curriculum, leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma or the career-related programme.
On top of their academic subjects, they must also specialise in one arts subject - dance, music, theatre, literary arts, visual arts or film.
The percentage of graduates pursuing non-arts related university courses has increased from 60 per cent in 2012 to 83 per cent in 2015.
"We aim to help our students achieve what they want to achieve, rather than make recommendations that they should study a specific range of courses," said Ms Lim Geok Cheng, principal of Sota.
For Ms Wee, it was through the other aspects of dance that she discovered other interests. "There are so many things the study of dance could go to, such as psychology."