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If you’ve just completed your O level, you’re probably wondering which way to go from here. Is junior college (JC) or polytechnic (Poly) better suited to your needs? Which educational route will give you the best opportunities in the future?

To make the decision, you have to compare JC and Poly side by side. The duration, the cost, the workload and course nature, as well as your chances of university admission afterward will all have to be put under the magnifying glass.

Duration, Cost and Availability

There’s a single year of difference between the duration of JC and Poly studies. That one year, however, can have a serious impact on academics.

Junior Colleges takes a Shorter Time to Complete

For JC education, the duration is two years and for Poly – three. And while the shorter program may seem desirable at first, it is linked to a more rigorous and intense educational experience.

Next, you need to take into account the school fees, as well as other costs linked to JC or Poly education.

Polytechnics Generally Cost More

According to Yahoo Finance, the average costs for 2020 differ significantly. For Singaporeans, the junior college annual school fees amount to 200+ dollars. For Poly, the sum is much more substantial at an average of 3,000 dollars.

This means that pursuing your A-levels through JC makes a lot more financial sense if you don’t have the budget for Poly education. The only exception comes in the form of independent JC where the cost ranges between 3,600 and 4,800 dollars per year.

Doing the math isn’t all black and white, however. There’s one more money-related aspect of JC and Poly education to consider.

Anyone who plans to pursue a university degree after Poly will need to know that a few semesters of work can be eliminated after the selection of a related major. As a result, Poly studies can make university education more affordable than junior college.

There Are More Junior Colleges to Choose From

Finally, let’s talk about the availability of educational opportunities.

Currently, there are five Poly and 19 JC institutions in Singapore. In other words, you have a larger selection of JC options – diversity is always an added benefit.

Workload and Coursework Specifics

The educational experience itself should be compared between JC and Poly schools in Singapore.

Junior Colleges Have a More Stringent and Hectic Schedule

Junior college has always been notorious for very rigorous and hectic academic life and many do struggle to keep up, thus enrolling into tuition centres like Julian Chemistry. Upon the completion of the two-year educational program, students will be awarded GCE A Level, while in the case of Poly education, students will be awarded a diploma.

Polytechnics are usually more lenient and flexible in terms of meeting the educational requirements. The average number of hours dedicated to studies per week is lower than in the case of JC – approximately 25 in comparison to 40 hours.

Polytechnic Courses are More Specialised and Provides Immediate Employability

The variety and diversity within each course is higher in junior colleges. Students can choose among a wide array of social and scientific disciplines. The subjects focus more on theoretical knowledge rather than on practical applications. As a result, students require a lot of in-depth understanding of the topic, sharpening logical thinking and analytical skills.

Poly courses are known to be more specialised. There isn’t just a general subject like biology. Rather, the courses dig deeper into sub-topics like biomedical engineering, for example. It’s easy to see these courses are designed to have a more specific, practical application. Students graduate with immediate employability. They also offer a higher level of preparedness to those who want to pursue relevant university education within the same field.

Another interesting characteristic worth pointing out is that Polys often provide students internship opportunities for the application of the acquired knowledge. These projects provide invaluable life lessons, especially if you’re someone who has a very good idea about a future career.

University Admission Prospects

Students go to JC or Poly in hopes of building solid foundations for their academic future.

So, how will the selection of one school or the other impact your chances of getting into a university of preference?

As already mentioned, the qualification awarded after the completion of a JC program is A levels. This is the entrant exam for university admission and as a result, JC graduates find it much easier to get into a university than Poly students.

Statistics for local universities suggest that their admission rates are as follows: 75 per cent for JC students and 17 per cent for Poly students.

This means that if you really want to move further into your academic career, JC would be a safe bet. Students who have a very specific idea about a niche they want to continue exploring in the future or wants to be employable quickly will do better at Poly. In addition, Poly provides better opportunities for academic scholarships, as well as for a reduced overall cost of obtaining university education.

The Bottom Line

Choosing between JC and Poly isn’t easy.

The general guidelines are these – choose JC education if you want a more well-rounded education, you are confident that you want to go to university, you aren’t scared by intense workload and you have a broad outlook on what you want to do in the future. Poly is a better choice for those who have already chosen a niche of preference, want to acquire practical skills, need immediate employment and want more freedom/flexibility from their school program.

You can make the most of each choice, if you go into one opportunity or the other with a good understanding of what it entails. To make the decision, think about your interests and dreams for the future, also talk to others who are in or have graduated from the two different institutions. If you dedicate some time getting a clear idea, the answer about suitable education will easily come to you.