Should a O-Level grad choose to go to a JC or a Polytechnic?
Since many students and parents ask me this question every year, here is my opinion on the matter.
The answer is: It depends on several factors:
(a) Your method of learning;
(b) How sure you are about what you want to do as a career;
(c) Your strength in English and Mother Tongue;
(d) Which university you want to go to;
(e) Your level of self-discipline.
Let’s examine each one in detail:
(a) Your method of learning:
In general, if you learn more by reading, go to JC. If you learn more through hands-on activities and projects, go to Poly. If you learn well via both methods equally, go to part (b).
(b) How sure you are about what you want to do as a career:
In general, if you are undecided, go to JC. If you know what you want, go to
the Poly offering your course. For example, if you are sure you want to be a
physiotherapist, go to Nanyang Poly.
(c) Your strength in English and Mother Tongue:
In JC, you must take General Paper and Mother Tongue. If you are weak in English especially, you will suffer terribly in JC. In general, if you are not confident of vastly improving your English in a short time, go to Poly. Of course the Poly also expects you to write English well, but not at the level GP demands.
(d) Which university you want to go to:
If you insist on going to NUS, NTU, SMU or SUTD, please go to JC and work hard. If you go to Poly, you have to work extra hard to be the top 5 or 10% of your cohort or course, then you can be admitted to a local public university. More than 70% of JC students make it to the local universities every year, so the chances of getting into the local universities are higher through JC than through Poly. If you go to Poly and don’t do well enough, be prepared to go to an overseas university (which is not a bad idea).
(e) Your level of self-discipline:
In JC, you are more supervised. Poly environment is like that of a university; you have to
be more independent and responsible. I have ex-students from both sides
regretting their choice, because they didn’t think about this issue.
There’s one more route that people often overlook: doing a three-year pre-university course at the Millenia Institute (MI). Bear in mind that only MI offers Management of Business and Principles of Accounting as A-level courses.
Lastly, please bear in mind that the above are just guidelines. Central to all forms of academic success is pure hard work and a thinking disposition.
I wish all O-Level graduates great success in their future endeavours.
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