After much preparation, the young self-proclaimed Emperor of The Han Dynastory is now serving a full-time mission to the UK with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He will return in 2014.


Welcome to the Han Dynastory!

As I am now serving a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have left this blog under the stewardship of a family member, who may post updates on how I'm doing as he/she sees fit.

Enjoy your stay!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Junior College or Polytechnic?

I submitted my Joint Admissions Exercise application online yesterday. To those who are curious and completely unaware of my plans, I put Anglo-Chinese Junior College as my first choice.

For the benefit of those not familiar with the Singapore Education System (which apparently requires you to be a Straight-A Student in order to understand it according to cousin Mark haha), the Joint Admissions Exercise, commonly acronym-ed as JAE, is the method is which students who have just received their GCE 'O' Level results apply for their next level of education.

Each student is given a JAE Booklet which contains all the information you might need on the various options you have to further your education, as well as how to complete the JAE application itself. The actual application itself involves filling up 12 choices of the courses you want, in order of preference. For most Singaporeans, the options they have after Secondary School are: 2 years in a Junior College to obtain an 'A' Level certificate, 3 years in a Polytechnic to obtain a diploma, 2 years in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) for vocational training, or admissions to colleges or universities which accept 'O' Level certificates.

Of the options listed above, Junior Colleges and Polytechincs (commonly reffered to as JCs and Polys/Polies) are the main contenders. Singaporeans would be particular aware of the competition Junior Colleges and Polytechnics face in order to attract students. Just look at all the propaganda that magically finds its way into your mailbox (physical mailbox, mind you) - Attempts of Polytechnics to dispel the age-old assumption that Junior Colleges are always better than Polytechnics.

The main Junior College Advantage:
You take two years to do your 'A' Levels. Upon graduation, you receive a certificate that allows you to enter just about any university you want... provided you do well, of course.

The Catch:
Junior College life is notorious for being highly stressful and not for the non academically inclined. A diploma obtained at a Polytechnic is also more winning on a resume compared to an 'A' Level certificate.

The main Polytechnic Advantage:
You take three years to obtain a diploma for the course of your choice. This allows you to work straight away.

The Catch:
There is still much debate over the credibility of the diploma overseas. There is also the unfortunate case that most of the studious, academically inclined students follow the conveyer belt into Junior Colleges. Consequently, Polytechnic students are supposedly what's left behind. This means that one may not feel the urge to work hard if he or she relies on peer pressure.

The common question most Singaporeans ask perfectly reflects the kiasu spirit which resides deep within each of them: So which is the best choice?

My response: Whichever is best for you.

Consider case-by-case examples:

Student A with no idea of what career he wants but does well in school.

Student B who is not so academically inclined but has an idea of what he wants to do.

Student C who is unable to afford University.

For student A, going to a Polytechnic would be a potential nightmare, because he would have to sit down and consider all the courses offered in Polytechnics, and make a choice that would commit him to 3 years of narrowing down his options. If he goes into a Junior College, he can still do "general" subjects which will allow him time to slowly discover where his heart lies. Being academically inclined, he does not mind the workload that Junior Colleges supposedly slam onto students.

For student B, going to a Polytechnic would be a better idea. He can obtain a diploma in a course that fulfills his desires, and work hard at it without the need to worry about all that mugging Junior College students seem to be doing for the sake of it.

For student C, going to a Polytechnic or Junior College will depend on his academic ability. If he can do exceptionally well in his studies, doing well in Junior College and obtaining magnificent 'A' Level results will open door to many scholarships in Universities. On the other hand, if he is not so academically inclined, going to a Polytechnic will allow him to obtain a diploma, improving his chances of finding a job, and allowing him to work and earn money for University at a later time.

In my case, I was at first like Student A, with no idea what I want to do. Hence, at the start of 2008 I decided that I would aim for a Junior College and continue to broaden my mind, in the hopes that I would eventually discover my hidden interest. This changed over time, as I slowly came to the conclusion during the course of 2008 that I have a heart for Social Sciences. Nevertheless, I blindly assumed that going to a Junior College will suit that sort of interest better. It was no longer a blind assumption once I filled in my JAE application form.

I put ACJC as my first choice, followed by random Junior Colleges I would not mind getting thrown into if ACJC miracalously rejects my application. By the time I reached my 7th choice however, I was bored with filling in all sorts of random Junior Colleges, so I decided to put in some Poly courses I would have taken had I not been dead set on going to a Junior College. Out of curiousity, I looked at the courses offered at Polytechincs under the Humanities section. I was disappointed. The only courses that had even the slightest connection to what I want to do were Business & Social Enterprise and Psychology & Community Services. Even the Humanities section itself was drowned by the plethora of Engineering, Business, Finance & Law, Chemical & Life Sciences, IT, and Media & Design courses offered at Polytechnics. It was clear to me that Junior College was a better choice. Apparently Humanities aren't very popular choices in Singapore. In a Junior College, I can take Economics and Geography, which will give me a good general sense of things before heading to a more specific route at University level.

My path is set.

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