As a student, education means the world to us. From PSLE at aged 12 to O Levels aged 16, before making the decision of a Junior College (JC) or Polytechnic education. Then comes the choice of attaining a University degree, local or private. Many people choose the JC route citing reasons like “(it) being easier to secure a spot in a local University” and “going to a Polytechnic wastes a year”. To each his own, there are pros and cons of either route.
As a student, here are some things to keep in mind that will help you through a 3-year polytechnic education:
- Stop looking back.
Secondary school founded the best friends many will ever find in their lives, just old enough to leave the “I don’t want to be your friend” because she stepped on my freshly-washed white school shoes, but also old enough to know who is genuine and who just wants your friendship to have an all access pass to copy homework day-in-and-out. It’s normal to fall back and rely on the friendships formed in Secondary school, but do not be so absorbed in keeping in contact with them, you forget to form new friendships. If your Secondary school friends were genuine and true, you do not have to see them every day, or every week, to keep those friendships. So keep those friends close, but remember to make new ones in Polytechnic as they will be the ones who will help you get through these tedious 3 years.
- Leave the past in the past. Move on.
Some people had a choice between going to a JC or Polytechnic, others had no choice. Do not make the assumption that good ‘O’ Level results automatically puts you ahead of the pack; polytechnic is a whole new ball game. Do not think too lowly of yourself just because you barely scraped through the cut-off points; some of the top scorers, award winners are those with L1R4s of close to 20. Coming to a polytechnic immediately wipes the slate clean, and makes way for everyone to start afresh whether you like it or not.
- Studies are not everything.
Many students who enter a Polytechnic dreams of graduating with grades that will secure them a spot in a local University. In a Polytechnic, there are many influencing factors that will affect your grades. Studying day-in-and-out does not guarantee you top grades; class participation and your peers’ evaluation during projects plays an important part as well. So do not be so consumed in studying that you neglect friendships, because they may be the determining factor in your ultimate grade. Enjoy the process of a Polytechnic education; the snacking between classes, after-lesson meals and shopping trips in the nearby malls.
- Extra-curricular activities are important.
The importance of a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in Polytechnic is often neglected, having been forced to join one back in Secondary school. While it remains optional, it is highly encouraged. CCAs, joining camps, expands your social circle beyond your classmates. They form a family outside your classroom and more often than not, our closest friends as we graduate are the people we got to know from a camp previously attended, or people we saw week-in-and-out at CCA meetings. Local university admission criterions are high and sometimes, having been active in a particular CCA may be the determining factor to being granted admission.
- Enjoy the process.
Polytechnic or not, it is just but another phase of education where there are new people to be met, a new style of education to experience, new things to be done, and new memories to be made. There are so many one-sided people in Polytechnic – those who only study and neglect everything else and graduate friend-less, and in worse cases, with poor results, and those who excel in their CCA at the expense of their grades, sometimes exceeding the regular 3-year polytechnic programme. Throw yourself and enjoy the Polytechnic experience. It’s definitely one to be remembered.
To the parents of Polytechnic students, whether current or potential; be an encouragement and not a pressure point. Many parents are under the assumption that Polytechnic is easy, simply because of the stereotypical mind-set that has been inculcated in them through societal influence. Polytechnic students have their own struggles; give them the space and time to adapt.
There is a pressure to provide your children with the best education possible, to give them the best chance at succeeding in life is strong, but there are limitations and at 17 years of age, they are sufficiently independent and responsible to make the right choices when the time comes. Be the encouragement they need, and let them fly and sometimes, the things they will accomplish then, will amaze you.
At the end of the day, it’s a journey parents and students embark on together. Enjoy the experience.