askST: Should you opt for junior college or polytechnic?

​The Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie offers tips on how to decide between junior college and polytechnic.​

SINGAPORE - ​The GCE O-level examinations results will be released on Wednesday (Jan 11).

For those getting their results, an important decision awaits. 

Junior college or polytechnic? 

First, you have to look at the basic entry requirements. 

For junior colleges, your L1R5​ -​ English and five relevant subjects - should not exceed 20 points.

For the polytechnics, your L1R4​ -​ English and four other subjects - should not exceed 26 points.

​However, for popular poly​technic​ courses such as biomedical science and banking and finance, you need to score below 12 points to stand a chance of getting in.

If you qualify for both ​junior college​ and poly​technic​ but still undecided on which route to take, my advice is to think about ​your academic preferences.

Are you strong in ​academic subjects? Do you love mathematics​,​ physics and English literature​, and​ love delving deeper into these subjects? If you ​prefer ​a structured curriculum and​ a ​school-like environment, maybe the ​junior college route would be more suited for you.

​But​ if you are inclined towards a learning approach that is more hands-on, that involves more project work, then you may be more suited to the polytechnic route.

If you have decided on going to a poly​technic, how do you choose between the many different courses that polytechnics offer?

My advice is to go to the open houses held by the poly​technic​s​ and​ talk to the guidance counsellors.​ ​They will ask you about your academic and non-academic interests​, which  will​ be an indication of the kind of careers that might suit you.​ ​

For example, for students who apply for hotel and tourism management or events planning, it would help if you are outgoing and love interacting with people.

Similarly for those who apply for media and communications, besides the ability to speak and write well, it would help if you love interacting with people.

Students often ask me if it's easier to get into the local universities through the ​junior college route.

​The fact is, over 70 per cent of junior college students enter local universities every year, while only about 20 per cent of polytechnic graduates get a place.​

But with the setting up of the Singapore University of Technology and SIM University, there are now more places and niche degree courses, such as digital animation, game design and physiotherapy, available to polytechnic graduates.