Ask Sandra: Which of the 2 routes is best for me?

Students on campus at Nanyang Polytechnic. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW
Students on campus at Nanyang Polytechnic. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

The Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie answers a student's question on choosing the junior college or polytechnic route.

I am likely to do well enough to qualify for both the polytechnic and junior college (JC) routes, and I am still undecided between the two. I like the polytechnic route but my parents prefer the JC route because more JC students make it to the local universities. How do I know which route I am more suited for?

First, know the basic entry requirements.

To enter a junior college, a student's L1R5 score - based on the O-level results for English and five relevant subjects - must not exceed 20 points.

Polytechnics require that the total score for English and four other subjects not exceed 26 points.

But for popular courses such as biomedical science and banking and finance, applicants need to score below 12 points to be successful.

If you qualify for both routes but are undecided on which one to take, start by considering your academic preferences.

If you like a more structured and guided curriculum, with a school-like environment, the junior college path may be what you are looking for.

Students who are strong in academic subjects should consider the junior college route as well, especially if you love literature or mathematics, and you want to delve deeper into these subjects.

However, if you are inclined towards a learning approach that is more hands-on, with more project work, the polytechnics could be more suitable.

Think about what kind of lessons you enjoy most or learn best from. Do you understand a topic well just by listening to a lecture or by reading about it in a textbook?

Or do things make sense only after you get to do an experiment or project work?

If it is the latter, then you may be more suited for the polytechnic.

To help students decide on the course they want to pursue in the polytechnic, guidance counsellors often ask them about their interests, both academic and non-academic.

Counsellors say that it provides an indication of the kind of careers that would suit a student.

For example, some polytechnics look for an applicant's involvement in co-curricular activities such as the drama club or the debating club when they apply for courses in hotel and tourism management or events planning.

In these fields, it helps if you are outgoing and enjoy interacting with people.

These characteristics also apply to those interested in media and communications. Besides the ability to speak and write well, they must also be curious about things and enjoy interacting with people.

sandra@sph.com.sg