If she had so desired, Tee Wei Ling would have had no problem getting into the popular CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School in Ang Mo Kio after getting a Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) score of 256 last year.
She could have joined many of her friends from Evergreen Primary School in Woodlands at the convent school.
But the 12-year-old chose Evergreen Secondary School instead, which is a 15-minute walk from her home in Woodlands.
"The bus is always so crowded in the morning, and I don't want to waste an hour getting to school every day," she said.
Though some of her teachers encouraged her to try for popular schools even before the PSLE results were out, she heeded the advice of her father, a taxi driver, who told her that attending a sought-after school may not lead to good academic results.
Many schools in the neighbourhood also produce students who score well, so I don't think it matters (whether we go to a popular school or not) as we all learn the same thing at school.
TEE WEI LING, who could have easily got into CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School but chose Evergreen Secondary School, which is a 15-minute walk from her home.
"All schools are the same, because we all take the same exams in the end... Many schools in the neighbourhood also produce students who score well, so I don't think it matters (whether we go to a popular school or not) as we all learn the same thing at school," said Wei Ling, who has three younger siblings in Primary 2 to 5.
Her parents started to discuss school choices with her only after the PSLE results came out, as they did not want to give her undue stress by setting targets. They left it to her to pick the schools and supported her decision to go to Evergreen Secondary.
"Ultimately, she is the one who is responsible for her studies; we don't want her to end up blaming us if something goes wrong," said her mother, Madam Lau Ding, 42, a housewife. "She is happier under a less stressful environment, is not as tired when she comes home and has more time to study. We felt she made the right choice."
Wei Ling, who joined the Red Cross Youth at school, won a bronze award at a national first aid skills competition earlier this year.
She likes her school's environment, which is "not so stressful".
Teachers are caring too, she said.
"The day before our exam, my maths teacher stayed back to revise with us. I think they are very responsible and care for our well-being," she added.