• Social Scientist

Should I go JC or Poly?

Congratulations on completing your GCE O-Level and I hope you are satisfied with your results. There is one important and challenging question facing you right now, “Should I go JC or Poly?”

There is no simple answer to this question. Your decision will not only affect your upcoming two-three years but will also have a serious impact and influence on your university path and career. I shall try to provide you with some guidance and simplify your decision-making process so that you can make the best choice for you and your future. I will discuss important reasons why you should and should not go to JC and the same for Poly. So let’s get started.

JC, also known as Junior College, is a 2 years course to prepare students for university. You can view it as a transition between secondary school and university. The lifestyle will be a blend of both.

Things similar to secondary schools? The uniform, reporting time, CCAs, civics class etc etc

Things similar to university? The introduction of lectures, and the pace of lessons.

Personally, JC is more similar to secondary school than university. You will take either Art or Science stream and choose from a set of H2 and H1 subjects in preparing for A-Level at the end of the second year.

Poly, also known as Polytechnic, is a 3 years course with the intention of training students with relevant skills ready to join the workforce.

It has more traits of the university lifestyle and little of secondary school.

No uniform, no fixed timetable, no fixed class. Each course is split into many modules.

You will choose a specific course of study and complete various relevant modules for achieving your diploma.


#1: "I am not sure what to specialise in yet."

The most important reasons why you should go JC is that you have yet to decide on what you want to do in university yet. JC will give you the extra two years to make up your mind.

The JC path is a very straight forward clear-cut process to enter university with the majority of JC going students securing places in our six local universities.

On the other hand, the percentage of each polytechnic cohort accepted into local universities is much lower but it's also important to note that the percentage is increasing.

The JC route consists of broader subjects like physics, mathematics, economics, allowing students to build a foundation for general subjects and fields before specialising in university. It’s important to note that some university and faculties have specific pre-requisite for A-Level, so please read up on it before it's too late.

#2: "I'm academically inclined"

You should consider JC if you are academically inclined. I do not mean whether you are smarter or more intelligent, nothing to do with that.

Academically inclined means you can process a large number of academic theories and apply them during examinations. Similar to how O-Level subjects were being taught but, and it’s a very big BUT, at a much higher rigour, quantity, depth and speed. If you can hardly keep up with the O-Level pace, you will find that the A-Level pace is much more challenging. So maybe JC route may not suit you.

#3: "I know what I want to do in life!"

If you have decided on the specific field and industry that you would like to focus in university, going JC and taking relevant subjects can help you build the foundation needed for your future course in university, especially those academically intensive courses.


#1: "Because all my friends are going JC"

The most important reason why you should NOT go to JC is that all your friends are going to JC. Different students go to JC for different reasons and all of you have different aptitude and characteristics, your friend may suit JC more than you. You can get to make friends regardless of whether you go JC or Poly. There will be orientation programs and CCAs in both which will help you with that. Also, even if you and your friends go to the same JC, you may not be in the same class or CCAs. They may also make new friends too.

#2: “JC is the best for my future.”

One very common reason student quote on why they choose JC is that “JC is the best for my future.”

What is best for your future differs between individuals, for students who already know their calling or passion, for example, media design, going JC will not help you as much as you think. On the other hand, going to Poly will give you 3 years of training in relevant areas. It’s also important to note that students going to JC aim to go to university. The A-Level certification is not much different from O-Level. On the other hand, a diploma is workplace ready.


#1: “It’s easier to go university through JC.”.

To a large extent, I agree with this. Going to the university through A-Level is clear cut and fair. The university entry rank points system is easy to understand just like O-Level's L1R5. I must still warn you that the competition level or the competitiveness during A-Level is significantly higher. So do expect JC to be stressful.


#1: "I know what I want to do in life!"

If you have decided on the specific field and industry that you would like to focus on, Poly might give you a head start in learning relevant knowledge and skills. Going JC would mean that you need to take other subjects that you may not like or use in your career.

#2: "I'm good in non-academic skills!"

If you are better in hands-on projects, teamwork, communication, instead of academic theories, going to Poly will give you more opportunities to score using those skills and these opportunities could be graded. Unlike A-Level, Poly doesn’t grade you base on one examination or in one sitting.

When I mentioned that JC is stressful, that idea came from the situation that your A-Level is done in one sitting. BUT that doesn’t mean that Poly is not stressful. In Poly, your grades are contributed by projects, presentations and examinations. There will still be stress. For those who had done well for projects and presentations, the mental burden of examinations will be lesser, vice versa.

#3: Workforce Ready!

One strength about Poly is that the diploma better prepares you for the workforce. A diploma graduate can choose to either enter the workforce or university. The percentage of Poly grads entering university has been increasing also. If you are not sure or don’t intend to go to university, maybe poly would be a better option. Going into relevant university courses, poly grads may also get exemption on relevant modules too.

It is important to note that admission criteria to university differs between JC and Poly.


#1: "Because all my friends are going Poly"

The most important reason why you should NOT go to POLY is that all your friends are going to POLY. Please read the earlier part again as it’s the exact same reason why you should not go JC - because all your friends are going JC.

#2: “Because Poly is fun.”

I believe that JC is fun too. Fun is relative and I have seen many JC students having the time of their lives during the two years. The notion that Poly is fun could be due to Poly students having more autonomy, freedom and lesser supervision during their three years. This autonomy and freedom would require the students to have the self-discipline to excel and enter university.

#3: “Because no need to wear school uniform.”

My reply to this statement would be that you have the rest of your life to NOT have to wear school uniform, why make important life choices base on school uniform? It's only two years of JC. I think it will save you a lot of time and effort deciding on what to wear for two years.

My Comments:

So now, how are you going to make that choice? Your education path must fit your strength and your aspiration. Some students suit JC more while others, Poly. You need to find the course of studies that suits you and your aspiration. So it’s not too early to explore what you want to study in university now!

I personally don’t think that “JC is better than Poly”, it is an inaccurate and outdated idea passed down for generations. While it’s a fact that Poly graduates starting pay will be lesser than Degree holders but other soft skills such as interpersonal and communication skills might help you advance further in your career and in life.

The pursuit of certification to unlock the entry into university or the workforce may be important, but what is more important is you find the meaning of why are you spending the next two years in JC or three years in poly.

I wish you all the best regardless of whether you are going to a JC or Poly!

I specialise in JC education and I hope to help youth more. I will be uploading more articles soon! If you are interested in:

“Which junior college is for me?”,

“Should I take H1 or H2 Economics” or

“How are rank points calculated?”, please subscribe!

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Have a great day ahead!

Benjamin Thong

Social Scientist Academy


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