A student guide to NUS Residential colleges: Cultures, Fees, FAQs

by | Oct 1, 2021

Staying on campus usually affords you the luxury of waking up merely 20 minutes before class so you can sleepily make your way to the classroom. However, residential stay is more complex than just physical convenience; joining an NUS residential college usually means taking compulsory RC modules and attending mandatory forums.

This article is the second part of a two-part series on residential stay in NUS. It lists the residential colleges and the student residences available on NUS campus, along with their cultures and experiences.

Check out the first part of this series where we guide you through the NUS halls!

You can apply to stay on campus, but be sure you apply before the academic year starts.

Applications in the middle of a semester or an academic year have a lower success rate since most rooms are taken by then.

NUS has also provided a detailed application and registration process.

NUS RC application process

One usually has to go through an application process involving writing short essays on themselves and how they would contribute to the RC, followed by a group / individual interview.

(Do note that application processes are subject to variation across the different RCs!)

What are the RC fees?

The residential college fees listed below are for students matriculated from AY2020/2021 Special Term Part 1)

The student residences fees listed below are also for students matriculated from AY2020/2021 Special Term Part 1)

On top of your hostel fees, you will have to pay for a meal plan should you choose to stay on campus.

The dining hall meal plan provides breakfast and lunch, with a variety of cuisines ranging from vegetarian to western.

NUS dining hall

Sourced from CAPT|NUS

Sometimes, the dining hall will even serve themed dinners according to the holidays. Below is a picture of local cuisine served for residents on National Day 2019.

Local theme cuisine

Should the fees be too overwhelming, students can apply for financial aid. Each of the colleges’ websites will also indicate the option for financial aid or scholarship.

NUS RC Life and Culture

Stumped about the differences between the individual RCs and student residences? We will now provide a guide explaining each RC and Student residence’s unique culture.

In light of the recent Yale-NUS and USP merger, we have accorded longer sections to those who shared their experience of staying at both dormitories with us.

Their sharing includes their general experience under the respective curriculums, and the communities they have built and joined.

Cinnamon College (University Scholars’ Programme) Culture and Information

NUS cinammon college

Sourced from NUS USP

I reached out to F (pseudonym used), who stayed at Cinnamon College for 2 years.

Given that Cinnamon College is for USP students, the RC application process is slightly different from the others. As long as you are a USP student, you are automatically granted a room at Cinnamon.

F shares that the culture is “intellectually [driven] and curious”, where residents start discussions about “anything under the sun”.

She also finds the community to be extremely friendly, with “very supportive, helpful and genuine” residents and professors who are easy to talk to or to ask for academic advice.

nus usc instagram

F states that the school administration is also rather helpful and supportive; student concerns are usually addressed, and if residents wish to “pursue their passions by starting an Interest Group etc”, the process is usually quite fast.

A downside to Cinnamon is its compulsory modules. Most of them tend to be about humanities topics such as gender, ethics, nationalism etc.

F shared that this might be difficult for students who were not familiar with such topics or used to writing so many essays.

Nonetheless, she still enjoyed these modules and found them rather enlightening and eye-opening. They provided her with an “insightful perspective” on various social issues.

She concludes that the “best part about USP is [its] people”, with some of her closest friendships coming from USP.

Tembusu College Culture and Information

tembusu college

Sourced from NUS

G (pseudonym used), who is currently in her third-year stay at NUS Tembusu College, shares that Tembusu is well-known for their “safe space for discussions”, where “no topic is too taboo” and issues can be discussed in “a civil manner”.

They are known to be a “liberal space where you can be anyone you think you are, and still feel the sense of safety living here”.

tembusu college ig

The small size of the community is both a boon and a bane for G. She says that “things can spread rather quickly” due to living in close proximity with others.

However, she still finds the size of the community to be rather comforting; she voices that she has found supportive friends in the community, and it is where she feels “the most comfortable”. “I can be who I think I am [in Tembu],” she states.

Tembusu, being centred in University Town, is close to the various food amenities that UTown offers.

College of Alice and Peter Tan Culture and Information

NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan

Sourced from CAPT | Youtube

Tiffany, a student in her third-year stay in the NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan, states that it is a “super chill place” where there is “no obligation to do things you don’t enjoy”.

This aspect has both pros and cons, given that there is little to no peer pressure, but it may result in a lack of “incentive to do things” should one choose not to be active in RC life.

She also shares that CAPT is a place for those who “enjoy engaging with the wider community” because it has “a lot of community engagement projects”, both local and overseas. The people there are “generally very nice” and “open to sharing / teaching you even if you’re new at [something]”.

College of Alice and Peter Tan Instagram

Also centred in University Town, CAPT is close to the various food canteens present there.

Residential College 4 Culture and Information

NUS residential college 4-min

Sourced from Medium

Huy, a resident currently staying in NUS Residential College 4, shares that it is colloquially known as the “College of Engineers” due to the high number of engineering scholars residing there.

RC4 also offers quite a few technology projects and “a worker space” for interested students.

He enjoys the freedom of staying in RC as he is free to join the various interest groups and activities he wishes to.

Also, the environment is rather “quiet and conducive”, and the people there “respectful and understanding”.

He adds that some may complain about the food served in the dining hall, but he generally finds the food satisfactory. (Though this might be because he has been subjected to hostel food for quite a few years).

good food

Also found in University Town, RC4 is near various food canteens.

Ridge View Residential Culture and Information

NUS ridge view residential college

Sourced from Wikimedia

I reached out to the current president of RVRC’s College Student Committee, Jonathan. He shares that RVRC has a very “chill” and “wholesome” environment, where residents are welcome to participate in RV’s activities in any way they wish to.

Despite being known for their focus on sustainability (given their curriculum and eco-friendly features in their buildings), Jonathan firmly believes that “RV’s reputation lies with its people”.

He shares that residents are kind and helpful towards one another, be it helping each other with academics or small errands.

As someone who stayed in RV for 2 years, one of the cons would be the insects in the rooms. Since RV is near greenery, I would frequently find lizards or strange insects in the corridors or in my room.

I really, really fear insects, so my solution was to immediately call my friends or boyfriend for help when I encountered a creepy-crawly (guys if you see this, I’m honestly not sorry).

However, to those interested in insects, RV provides the opportunity to monitor them! There is an interest group dedicated to examining such wildlife.

On a happier note, RVRC is also conveniently located near the Yusof Ishak House canteen (pictured below), a 7/11, KOI and other F&B outlets.

Yusof Ishak House canteen

Sourced from WhyQ

Yale-NUS Culture and Information

Yale NUS college

Sourced from Wikimedia

Students in Yale-NUS College are automatically granted a stay on campus in the YNC dorms referred to as Elm, Cendana and Saga College in University Town.

H (pseudonym), a third-year student residing in YNC, shares that YNC is a “symbol of hope for a lot of change and student organising”. Yale-NUS provides students with the opportunity for “social change and student activism”, as seen through the support given to CAPE and The G Spot.

The school administration has continuously “strived to defend” spaces for social discussion for its students.

For instance,Yale-NUS has hosted Dr Menaka Guruswamy (the lawyer who helped overturn Section 377A in India) on campus.

Getting approval for such events is “significantly harder” in NUS, H noted.


yale nus instagram

H also addresses the alleged “YNC exceptionalism”

She says that “it isn’t that YNC students are just so special that we are the only ones who do student organising”, but that “we are lucky enough to have a school and space that doesn’t restrict us from having events that strive for social change and student activism”.

H acknowledges that there are some challenges to Cendana College.

With so many activities available on campus, and students themselves engaging in internships or running student organisations, staying in close proximity to other hustlers can get “very overwhelming at times”.

There is a “strong sense of FOMO if you don’t partake in the hustle culture”, and students might end up overworking themselves in fear of not doing enough.

Nonetheless, the empathetic community of Cendana College might help one feel less overwhelmed.

H shares that, while the community isn’t perfect, they take social concerns such as gender identities and pronouns seriously. The community “endeavours to be empathetic to others’ struggles and identities and hold space for them”.

Prince George’s Park Residences Culture and Information

nus prince george park residences

Sourced from NUS

J (pseudonym), who is currently staying at NUS Prince George’s Park Residences, shares that PGPR has no strong culture.

Students typically apply there for its ease of stay, since there is no requirement to confirm future accommodation. However, this also means that there is increased competition for the rooms.

J enjoys the freedom of having her own space in PGPR, which also has 2 canteens conveniently located nearby.

She raises the concern that it is occasionally difficult to communicate with PGP management, given the large number of students residing there.

UTown Residences Culture and Information

NUS utown residences

Sourced from NUS

Aegan, who stayed at UTown Residences for a year, shares that it has a “quiet” environment where “everyone minds their own business”.

With rooms following a suite-style where 4 residents share a living room, toilet and fridge. Another bonus of UTR would be the reduced competition for such amenities.

He states that the conducive environment makes it “easy to concentrate on work”, and that its prime position in UTown provides increased access to its various study spots.

Since it is not compulsory to join interest groups or take certain modules to maintain your stay, the culture there might be a little more subdued than the average hall or RC.

Despite this, UTR still regularly organises activities such as group yoga or HITT to encourage residents to get to know one another.

NUS RC Guide: Concluding thoughts

Although it is not compulsory to attend hall orientation camps, I highly recommend it since it increases your chances of making friends.

For RCs, although there’s no obligation to participate actively, your 2-year stay is only guaranteed if you complete the compulsory modules.

Also, I highly encourage those staying on campus to join different interest groups or activities since it’s crucial to surviving NUS as a freshman. There are usually no barriers to entry or prerequisites to these interest groups.

For instance, I joined a yoga interest group, and most of the residents there had no prior experience in it. Watching everyone (myself included) struggle through the poses was a rather fun experience.

I hope this guide to NUS RC has helped those looking to stay on campus. Thank you to everyone interviewed in this article for taking the time to answer my questions!

Don’t forget to check out the first part of this series where we walk you through the NUS hall guide.

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