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Mr Kelvin

Mr Kelvin

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Junior College or Polytechnic

Congratulations on completion of your ‘O’ Levels! Having completed ten years of education, you are down to one of the last milestones before embarking on your career. This also signifies the importance of your next step – Tertiary Education. Should you attend Junior College or Polytechnic? It is pertinent to take some time to mull over the pros and cons of each choice. The article is written in hope of helping you in your decision making:

  • Chances of getting into the University

Although the Ministry of Education aims to raise the total rate of entry by polytechnic graduates and A-level school-leavers into university – called the cohort participation rate (CPR) 40 per cent by 2020[1], there is still a significantly higher percentage of junior college students (~66%) who are placed in universities vis-à-vis polytechnic students (33%)[2].  

  • Costs

Junior College fees, with the exception of Independent ones, are generally low at $6 per month. Fees for independent junior colleges range from $300 to $400 per month[3]. School fees for polytechnics approximate $200 to $300 per month[4]. Thus, school fees will differ significantly for non-independent Junior Colleges and Polytechnic.

  • Course Duration

Junior College duration is 2 years, with the exception of Millenia Institutes (3 years). As for polytechnics, the duration is 3 years.

  • Level of Specialisation

The curriculum for Junior Colleges is generally less specialised than polytechnics and covers a broad range of academic subjects, such as Chemistry, Biology, Math and Economics. Though the subjects are more theoretical and less applied, they train students to sharpen their analytical skills. As for polytechnics, the curriculum is generally more specialised and allows students who are very certain of their career choice to focus on honing their skills for the specialisation to be ready for the workforce. Thus, the structures differ significantly and are meant to serve different purposes.

  • Student Life

Life as a Junior College student does not deviate much from a secondary student. Students dress in their designated uniforms and attend classes with the same classmates throughout their Junior College life. In comparison, Polytechnic life is similar to University life where students attend school in their own outfits. Classes are modular-based, hence you will not likely not be attending classes with the same coursemates throughout your Polytechnic life.

  • Study Approach

The polytechnic curriculum emphasises on project work and collaborative learning while the Junior College curriculum is similar to secondary school life in terms of academic rigour though there is also an element of project work. In Polytechnics, students are required to attend 75% of the aggregated attendance for lectures, tutorials and practical sessions of a module, while attendance is compulsory for Junior College students. Accordingly, Polytechnic students have more autonomy over their schedule and would need to be disciplined in achieving their desired results.

In conclusion, there are distinct differences between Junior College and Polytechnic life and these are meant to cater to the diverse needs of students. In order to better prepare yourself in making the seemingly daunting decision, it may be worthwhile to explore your interests and research on the related career choices. If you have a dream job in mind, find out the prerequisites and research on how best to attain the end goal. If time permits, try applying for internships or working part-time in various firms to find out more about your interests and how else to hone your skill sets to be equipped for the working world. It is also paramount to speak to someone with sufficient working experience, preferably in your field of interest, to understand more about the real working world in aspects such as working hours and salary. More often than not, the challenges of various careers are not taught in schools or available online. 

We wish you the very best in your next journey!

“Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt


[1] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/planning-for-uni-places-needs-rethink

[2] https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/university-places-to-cap-or-not-to-cap

[3] https://www.moe.gov.sg/education/pre-university

[4] https://www.sp.edu.sg/sp/admissions/financial-matters/course-fees/full-time-diploma