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What you can do after 'O' Levels



You don't only have to choose between junior college or polytechnic.

Not knowing where to further your studies after secondary school is a dilemma many students face. But is there really a 'correct' route you can take? Is there no going back from this decision?

Youth.SG spoke to five students about their options after the 'O' Levels – such as dropping out of junior college, attending Millennia Institute, and transitioning from ITE to polytechnic.

Here are some options you can consider after your 'O' Levels.

Taking three years to complete the 'A' Levels 

"I decided to further my studies at Millennia Institute (MI) because they offered a three-year 'A' Level course as opposed to a two-year course in junior college (JC). This gave me an additional year to prepare for my 'A' Levels and be more active in my CCA activities.

There's a perception that people only go to MI when they perform badly for 'O' Levels. They're probably unaware that it is the only institute in Singapore that offers 'Management of Business' as a subject. Students who are keen on taking the 'A' Level route whilst learning about business management can do so here.

My advice to anyone considering this route? Three years is not a long time. Start your revision early so that you'd be well prepared and less stressed in your final year." - Ayshah Binti Sahril, 19, Student   

With her business management background, Ayshah (centre) hopes to set up her own online business in the future.

Moving from ITE to Polytechnic

"Most people think that ITE students are a bunch of rowdy, foolish and noisy students but that isn't true. I never regretted a day coming to school because I learnt how to take responsibility for my school work, and was given wide exposure to hands-on learning such as internships.

I pursued a National Institute of Technical Education Certificate (NITEC) in business services in ITE after secondary school. It was my goal to obtain a diploma, so I challenged myself at the start of ITE to work hard.

With the determination and sacrifices I made, I'm currently pursuing a diploma in retail management in polytechnic.

My advice for ITE students eager to go to polytechnic is to think of reasons that motivate you to keep holding on, especially after all the sacrifices you made." - Muhammad Rahmat Hidayat, 23, Student

ITE was the 'best phase' of Rahmat's life as he found joy attending school.

Switching from JC to Polytechnic

"I went to a JC after my 'O' Levels because I didn't get to learn much about the different polytechnic courses when I was in secondary school.

I broke down the weekend before my mathematics examination in JC. I had a feeling I would be retained for a year because my grades were insufficient.

I decided to drop out as I was unwilling to repeat another year. It wasn't a difficult decision for me because I knew what I wanted to pursue in university. Making the switch from JC to polytechnic was the best decision I made because I now have an interest in what I'm learning, and I'm picking up practical skills I can use in the future.

To anyone considering making a switch from JC to polytechnic, know yourself and what you want. Be firm with your decision even when people try to dissuade you, but remember to do sufficient research on the polytechnic courses you are contemplating on." - Wang Jia Yi, 20, Student

Jia Yi (centre in red) thinks the JC route is best for those who are fast learners.

Pursue a career in design

"I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in design, so I set my eyes on LASALLE since I was 15. People often think LASALLE is difficult to get into, which is not necessarily true, or that its curriculum is easier than JC or polytechnic — but it's still a diploma course with its own demands.

In LASALLE, we don't have timed exams, nor are we tested on our ability to memorise. But we have a ton of projects that are due at the end of the semester, so time management is really important!

Even if you don't feel like it, work on your projects bit by bit every day so that you don't lose out on sleep nearing your submission deadlines." - Avery Teo, 19, Student

Avery enjoys the school culture in LASALLE because the dedicated lecturers have mutual respect with students.

A switch from MI to Polytechnic

"I pursued my tertiary education in Millennia Institute (MI) because my goal was to graduate university with a degree in business. Back then, I had a misconception that it is harder to secure a place in a local university after graduating from a polytechnic with a diploma, as compared to graduating with decent 'A' Levels results.

Upon receiving my first year exam results, I decided to withdraw from MI as I was unsure if my results reciprocated the effort I had put in.

Many people asked if I regretted going to MI as they assumed that dropping out and changing academic routes wasted precious time. Frankly, I never saw this as an issue as I was content with my past learning experiences.

Making the switch to a polytechnic has given Azilah (second from left) more opportunities to develop practical skills in business, like undergoing training at the campus retail store.

I'm grateful I have made the decision to study retail management in polytechnic because I've always wanted a career related to business in the future. I'm a firm believer that education is a lifelong journey with no age limit, so keep working consistently towards your end goal with your passions and interests in mind."- Azilah Harudin,19, Student


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  • Tags: School Study