Are you feeling lost in Junior College (JC)? You are not alone. The education system in Singapore is so structured that most of us simply drift through life. We entered Primary One as compulsory education, put little to no thoughts about what we actually want to do with our lives because we were too busy preparing for the PSLE. To what end? To get to a good Secondary school! And then, after most of us got into a Secondary school we continue to drift past O Levels. Sometimes we may feel like we are just fire-fighting on a daily basis to get good grades so that we can head on to a next stepping stone, but we never had time to figure out where our final destination in our education journey is going to be! Soon after the O Levels results are out, you realized your grades have allowed you to enter a JC. So that’s what you did! You chose a JC and you got in. And now you’re here, and feeling very lost. You are normal. Before your school starts to decide for you which subjects to take for your A Levels and dictate your future, here are some pointers for you to ponder.
Am I able to do well in JC?
The JC Curriculum is very much like the Secondary school curriculum, just that what you are going to study is a lot harder. There’s also the General Paper that requires you to think and read like a debater and write convincing essays about the way the world functions. You will find little to no direct practical use for everything you are going to study in JC. However, if you are studying the right combinations of subjects, they will help you get your desired course in University and you can start to see some practical use then. Until then, you cannot justify your misery with some practical real life application of your subjects. In JC, you will be trained to think. A lot. Your mind will be widened and deepened. Your perspectives get broader. You will be trained to think from all angles. There is little doing, but plenty of thinking and questioning. Your mind will be challenged more than before. So, you need to ask yourself this question – “Am I a doing person or a thinking person?” Do you love to challenge your mind? Or do you prefer to see things happening?
If you were more a doing and making things happen kind of person, the only consolation in JC would be meaningful and purposeful CCAs. Other than your CCA life, nothing much would be practically moving. You are just going to study like in Secondary School, only much harder. Even the A Levels certificate you obtain after all your misery would be as valuable as an O Levels certificate in the working world. Your only reason to be in JC would be to progress to University for your degree. Now, can you do well enough in JC to progress to University with decent results and get into the course you want in University? Will you be able to motivate yourself enough? If not, you should reconsider your JC route.
What Do I Really Want to Do?
What do you really want to do? You probably asked yourself this question before some time while waiting for your O Levels results (hopefully!). You may not be sure. You were only 16! What would you have known about your future and who you are supposed to be? And then, you hear many people telling you that you should just go to a JC if your results are good. This is because a Degree is better than a Diploma in the working world. You begin with a higher salary, and you get a more favorable career progression track. Maybe true. However, the question comes back to this: “What do you really want to do?” This is because what you want to do may not require a degree, or may not be attainable with a degree!
Maybe you have good business acumen and you would like to be an entrepreneur (perhaps you have started doing some little business already now!).
An entrepreneur wannabe does not require a degree, and will likely waste his time studying in JC. Concerned parents, however, will advice that he puts aside his ambition for 5-6 years. Get his A Levels cert, get the degree so that his future is secured before coming back to his ambition. In the event his ambition fails, he has a degree to fall back upon. Sounds logical, but this is not a fool-proof plan! Beneath such an advice is the willful assumption that he will surely do well in his A Levels and University, and obtain a good and desirable degree certificate. How likely is this going to happen?
So, coming back to the question – “What do you really want to do?” You must figure this question out for yourself. At such a crossroad of your life, you will hear many voices pointing you to different directions. Or perhaps these voices have united to point you to a certain direction you don’t really want to go, and you feel too weak and too young to oppose these united authoritative voices. You need to listen to yourself and make a stand for yourself. Figure out what you want in your life, not what your parents or some aunties want in your life. By the end of the day, you should be accountable to yourself, and responsible for your own decision.
Now, say you have figured out what you want to do. You need to take the JC route to get the degree you desire. However, your JC does not offer the right combination of courses for you to get your desired course in University. Be ready to think of alternative routes to pursue your ambition. Do not just give up and drift along in JC, and take whatever is given to you. You will just be wasting your time. Perhaps, you just never really figured out what you want to do because you didn’t have time to explore your options previously. Then, make it your goal to score the best grades possible to JC, so that you have more choices in your course selection in University. Also, spend your 2 years in JC exploring your options. Talk to more people. Get more experience out there in the world. Hopefully by the time you enter University you know enough to make better decisions on which course you want to take. It is better to have a goal of entering University with desirable grades than to continue to feel lost and drift on in JC.
Can I Make a Change?
Having said so much earlier about making a switch if you find yourself unsuitable for JC education, not everyone can make that drastic decision to drop out of JC and apply for a Polytechnic course easily. You may face some barriers. Maybe it’s too late to apply for Polytechnic and you will end up losing a year’s time. Maybe you face violent objections from your parents. Maybe you are just not so brave to make such a change! So, this is a very valid question. If you can make the change to your desired course in Polytechnic, you are very lucky. Congratulations! You are on your desired path!
However, you may not be able to make any changes to your life even after heavy considerations about what you really want in your life and your ability to excel in JC. In such a situation, stick to where you are and stay positive. Always believe there is a reason for us to be somewhere we don’t like to be in. Go to school everyday with a hope that this is going to turn out better than you believe it to be. Do your best, make friends, find CCAs you love and get as much help academically as you can!
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.– Maya Angelou