By Nur Shakylla Nadhra
"Should I go to a Junior College (JC) or Polytechnic?" This is a question that many students (past and present) have asked themselves while deciding their future.
JC: A smoother path to university?
Some would prefer enrolling into a JC because it offers an easier route to university, just like Weichang Ngauw, a graduate of Tampines JC. He says: "Enrolling into a JC really is the shortest route to university, and this for me was an important pull factor."
The 22-year-old, who is now enrolled into the National University of Singapore, also believes that his two years as a JC student allowed him to better adapt to university life. "I feel that JC really prepared me for university education; it helped in honing my essay writing and critical thinking skills, and got me used to super thick readings!"
But this isn't the only reason some students decide to go the JC path. Rachel Loh, for example, knew that there was only one reason she wanted to enroll into a JC: being 17 at the time, she was still unsure of what she wanted to pursue as a career.
"JC would be a better choice for people like myself who, at that age, still aren't sure of what they want to do in the future," says the 25-year-old, who graduated from St Andrews JC in 2005. "To enter a polytechnic, one would have his or her future career path more or less mapped out, depending on the specialisation one majors in."
On the other hand, it is exactly this opportunity to specialise in a field that draws some students to enroll into a polytechnic. "I decided to go to a polytechnic because I wanted to study a course that would be specific to what I am interested in," says Aishah Al-Rashid, 22, who enrolled into Republic Polytechnic to pursue Biomedical Science.
Polytechnic: A head start for your career?
A curriculum geared towards preparing students for the working world is another factor that influences some individuals to enroll into a polytechnic. Take for example, 21-year-old Shamini Ganasarajah, who studied Customer Relationship and Service Management at Republic Polytechnic. She believes that a polytechnic better prepares one for certain realities in the working world.
"I had the option of doing an internship, which definitely prepared me for working life," she says. "My internship wasn't all fun and games and it taught me to find the silver linings in bleak situations. So it helped me set realistic expectations about my future career."
Durrah Taqiah, 19, also shares this sentiment. The Ngee Ann Polytechnic Mass Communication graduate says of the benefits of enrolling into a Polytechnic: "The projects I did equipped me with real-life work experience and gave me first-hand insight into the working world! It also helps that our lecturers are industry professionals themselves. So we learn from the best and our work is judged according to industry standards."
While some would say that a polytechnic offers students a head start in the working world, 19-year-old Vanessa Chan believes that this might not be much benefit after all. The Raffles Junior College graduate says: "Of course (enrolling into a polytechnic) does give you a slight head start. However, what you get after graduation is merely a diploma, which opens up the workforce at a lower level."
It's all about choice
But whether these individuals took the JC or Polytechnic route, all of them believe that their education has helped shape them into confident young adults.
"It has definitely expanded my horizon. I've met a vast range of people from different walks of life and it's interesting because I get to step out of my comfort zone and realise my potential," says Durrah.
"Being in JC, in particular my JC, has shaped my life immeasurably," Vanessa explains. "My two years there has pushed me to achieve far greater than what I'd ever expected. It showed me there is so much more I could strive for. It was stressful but looking back at all of my achievements in JC, I have to say that it was worth it."
And ultimately, whichever route a student decides on, it all boils down to his or her preference.
As Weichang puts it, "There really isn't a clear-cut better path for everyone. Both routes are designed for people who want to pursue different things. What is important is that you've truly learned new things and gained the most that you can out of the two or three years at the respective institutions. It's the experiences that matter and finding the right path that can cater to your needs better."
What are your thoughts about the JC versus Polytechnic debate? Share with us!
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