What should you do when you realise your school might not have been the best choice? 19-year-old Jermaine Lee reflects on her journey and shares some tips for her juniors.
Why I went from Polytechnic to Junior College
Since young, I’ve loved working in groups for projects and this was one of the reasons that attracted me to a polytechnic after my O-Levels. I had gotten a place at Singapore Poly’s Creative Writing in TV and New Media (DTVM) course via EAE. The course was very exciting and I was passionate about the media industry, especially content creation. Plus, I was looking forward to the freedom that Poly life would bring!
In two minds
But midway through my first semester, I realised that my love for media and journalism stemmed from my strong desire to shed light on the truth. This realisation changed my perspective and I became interested in studying law. As my interest in law grew stronger, I was in a turmoil. I wanted the option to choose either law or media as a future career, both of which I was passionate about, instead of feeling restricted in my choice.
Could I study law at university after my course in Poly? That did not seem likely. Even though I managed to do quite well in my first semester, I did not think I could realistically match the almost perfect GPA required for law in local universities. DTVM is a course unrelated to law, and the subjective nature of the course made it very difficult to get a perfect GPA.
I began to do more research on my options and I noticed that while more poly students are entering local universities in recent years, the number of poly students studying law at university here are few. The chances of me successfully getting a spot seemed very, very slim.
Moving to JC
After mulling over this for some time, and discussing the matter with my parents and course teachers, I decided to move to a junior college at the end of year 1.
I believed that JC would put me in a more favourable spot when applying for law, yet also give me the option to study media-related courses at university if I chose to in the end.
Using my 2016 O-Level results, I took part in the 2018 JAE and landed a spot at Anglo-Chinese Junior College where I took Theatre Studies, Geography, Literature and H1 Mathematics.
People often ask me if I regret my decision to go to Poly and ‘waste’ a year. But I see it as having gotten the best of both worlds! Who cares what other people think when it is about your own future? And one year is really not that much compared to the rest of your life.
Best of both worlds
My time in poly was super-enriching. I got the chance to learn about topics I love, and I met and worked with unique individuals in my class during group projects. Although it was just one year, I learnt so many invaluable lessons – like being independent, managing your time and working professionally with group mates even when our personalities clashed. It was great preparation for the working world. Of course, being able to wear whatever I wanted and dyeing my hair were great perks too! It was a great opportunity to ‘grow up’.
These life lessons prepared me for the challenges in JC. Project Work was a piece of cake because every other day in poly is project work! The JC syllabus is difficult and requires a crazy amount of self-discipline, rigour and stress management. My year at Poly had prepared me for this, as well as the ability to get along with different kinds of people.
JC or Poly?
Looking back on my decision, I would say that JC is better suited for those who, like me, want to keep their options open and not have any regrets about limiting themselves to a particular field or industry. If you are sure about the career path or course you want to pursue, poly could be the path for you. Ultimately, the deciding factor should be the future that one wants to work towards.
Leaving poly to go to JC was an unconventional path and no doubt the A levels and the JC curriculum were going to be tough, but I needed to give myself the opportunity to try. Of course, I considered the possibility that despite my efforts, I may still fail to score a place in law in NUS or SMU. However, I took reassurance in the fact that if I gave my best effort, at least I’d know that I have tried and I wouldn’t be left with any regrets or spend the rest of my life wondering about the ‘What Ifs’.
My advice to all those facing similar decisions now is to do lots of research and think carefully about your choice. Do not take it lightly. Adjusting to the JC system after Poly, like I did, is a huge challenge. But, I would also say that it is not the end of the world!
It’s never too late to create a new path for yourself as long as you are prepared for the challenging road ahead.