JC or Poly? Decisions, Decisions

YES! It’s that time of the year again where I see fresh, confused O level students all around me. Sooooo I decided to do up this post to aid in your decision making ^^

Personally, I have had an education in both a Junior College as well as Polytechnic. In JC, I studied in the Science stream while in Polytechnic I studied in the Arts stream. No that doesn’t mean my view is limited because I’m not gonna’ be talking just about my coursemates but the lifestyle as a whole in general. Savvy?

Okay, now let’s get down to business shall we? Let’s start with Polytechnic since it’s fresher in my head…

POLYTECHNIC VS. JUNIOR COLLEGE

SCHOOL UNIFORM

Polytechnic: YES! Everyone is entitled to flaunt their style, regardless of whether it’s cool or not so cool or downright queer/weird. The only headache is deciding WHAT to wear everyday. Normally I’d go for practicality – tee shirt and jeans and sneakers. But really, it’s up to you. In my faculty, it’s, as my friend says, ‘Project Runway’ day on a daily basis. For others, it’s polo tees and jeans.

Junior College: Well, just like secondary school, you HAVE to wear a school uniform. And there are specifications to be met – no tinted glasses, no coloured contacts etc. the usual stuff. Stringent in terms of dressing. And duh. NO MODIFICATION OF LE SCHOOL UNIFORM! unless you have a death wish then go ahead…or like my friend says, don’t get caught.

EDUCATION

Polytechnic: MORE FOCUSED on fieldwork and education is generally more industrial-based. Rather than studying pure theories all the way, in a polytechnic you are thrown out into the real world to get a LOT of hands-on experience. This can be a plus or minus point. Cause if you don’t know what you want or choose the wrong course, you’re in a bit of trouble. So I suggest if you’re not sure what you want YET, don’t go to a polytechnic. You are limiting yourself drastically and perhaps even destroying your own future.

Junior College: Ah. The ‘popular’ route that most of us, either egged on by our parents or our own perception of society, take. For the education system in a JC, I’d say it’s very theory-based and kinda’ dry, in my opinion. Partly cause I roughly knew what I wanted and I didn’t see the point of studying whatever it was I’m studying in a JC as it’s not applicable. A JC is to prepare you for a university education. So if you’re unsure with what you want or need more time in deciding your future, come to a Junior College. Just beware. Cause for A levels, if your results are somewhere in between, be prepared to go to a private uni or polytechnic. Either you study REAL hard and smart and get excellent results, or just let yourself die in the exam and re-take it (though i wouldn’t recommend the second option)

FREEDOM

Polytechnic: Yes, you have lots of freedom in a polytechnic. Freedom to do ANYTHING you want during those loooooooong breaks – as long as you turn up in time for lessons. In the beginning where workload is sparse, you can afford to chill out and stone and explore your campus’s facilities.

Junior College: Nope. Sorry. Freedom is still limited. You MAY be treated as young adults but there are still a lot of secondary school rules to be followed. Like singing the national anthem and reciting the national pledge with occasional uniform checks. Sad but that’s life. Don’t worry it’s not ALL that bad. At least you have someone to keep you under control if you know that you’re the kind who’s prone to go crazy with too much freedom and have little control over yourself.

CUT-OFF POINT 

Polytechnic: Only your L1R4 results are considered. 1 Language (Either English/Higher Mother Tongue) and Best 4 subjects (subjects vary with different courses) Depending on your course, the COP may vary.

Junior College: Your L1R5 results are considered. That means if you take only 7 subjects, you can only afford to do away with one subject. Risky but not impossible. I’ve heard of people who made it with just 6 subjects, forgoing one subject to focus on the rest.  There are two main streams – Science and Arts with some schools having a lower COP for the Science stream than arts while others it’s the same.

COURSE STRUCTURES

Polytechnic: In a polytechnic, we call our various subjects ‘modules’. And our teachers are called ‘lecturers’. For every semester (6 in total – 2 in each year with 3 years in total) there are a set of modules which we have to complete. Failure to do so will result in re-take/forwarding of a module. This USUALLY ends up with a student graduating a full semester (or sometimes a year) later than his/her coursemates. Ouch.

Junior College: For a JC student, the basic requirement is – of course – General Paper (OR Knowledge n Inquiry), Project Work in your first year, Mother Tongue, 3H2s and 1H1. And you MUST have one contrasting subject from your stream. So let’s say you’re in the Science stream, you have to take a subject that’s in the Arts stream (Economics/Geog/History/Literature etc.) and no it doesn’t have to be H1. It could be a H2 as well. It’s the opposite for Arts Stream. The trend as far as I know is for Sci stream students to take Econs as their contrasting subject and Arts stream students to take Math as their contrasting subject. Mix and match. Have fun. Though do be wary for your timetable may be a little bit different and sometimes screwed up.

EXAMS/TESTS

Polytechnic: Well thing about a polytechnic is that you have to be consistent in your work. You may be doing really well for the past few projects but all it takes is one screw up and there goes your results…unless the assignment is not graded off course. However, more often than not you have to give it your all in order to maintain and keep up your gpa. It’s an every semester thing and I’ll be honest with all of you. It’s not easy to maintain your gpa. There WILL be a drop here and there especially in your second year. So do be careful. Study hard in year 1 and get as much as you can. That’s how I survived.

Junior College: Your entire 2 years of mugging is for one aim – A levels. So technically speaking you can afford to fail throughout until your A levels near then mug all the way right? Well … yes and no. You can NOT put in your 100% effort from the start cause I doubt normal people would have the staying power anyways. But just do well enough to ensure you move on to year 2 and not get retained/kicked out. (though in some cases, it IS better to get retained if you’re sure that you wanna go to a university and yet you know you’re unprepared for your a levels). For me I knew I wanted out so either ways I wouldn’t have minded. If i failed, just go poly. If I pass, go on and take my A levels. There. Simple as ABC and 123.

————————————————————————————————-

In conclusion, if you go to a Polytechnic, you have more freedom as to when you wanna start your work and such but do be careful what you do with it. If you can’t handle your freedom properly you’re gonna get into a lot of trouble.  For a JC, just be prepared to mug all the way.

Both routes will have ups and downs. None are stress-free. Do your homework. Attend talks, open houses, find out as much as you can. Then start making your decision. It’s not first come first serve so don’t need to hurry.

And please you don’t ALWAYS have to listen to your parents. They might not be always right and I think you’re old enough to make your own decisions.

Kudos and good luck!

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