Many secondary school students often have difficulties in choosing which education pathway to take upon receiving their ‘O’ level examination results. A student might waver endlessly between a polytechnic education and a junior college education. The differences between the two educations systems are so vast that people often debate over which is the superior one. Statistics have shown that more students prefer to opt for a polytechnic education whereas some students prefer the latter. (Education Statistics Digest 2012) The purpose of this study is to examine the differences between the education system of a polytechnic and a junior college. This paper will cover the teaching methodology, affordability and campus environment of the two different education systems.
2 Teaching Methodology
There is a great dissimilarity in the way students are being taught in both polytechnic and junior college. Students in both institutions learn different things within different timespans. Their exposure to society and the method of assessment are not similar.
2.1 Duration of course
Students in both institution study for a different period of time. A student in polytechnic will have to study for three years, a far cry from a junior college student who only has to study for two years. Polytechnic also splits up their year into semesters. Therefore, a polytechnic student has to go through six semesters before graduating. Every semester, a polytechnic student will take up different modules. On the contrary, a junior college student learns a number of same subjects throughout the three years of their education, much like what they have done in secondary school.
2.2 Learning objectives and scope
One important difference between polytechnic and junior college is the things that they learn. Polytechnic teaches their students’ knowledge that is relevant to their course of study. For example, students taking diploma in Information Technology will only learn things relevant to their course and not unnecessary things as such Chemistry. Students will be able to learn things that they actually want to learn. On the other hand, what a junior college student learns consists of Mathematics, General Paper, Economics, and Sciences and so on. The subjects are also split into two different kind of level, mainly H1 and H2, with H2 being the higher level of the subject.
2.3 Interactions and opportunities with external societies Polytechnic and junior college students are exposed to different things. Some junior college has cultural exchange, whereby the school plays as a host to students from other country. Sometimes the junior college might also send students out for overseas cultural exchange trip. While in polytechnic, students may also go on such trips but polytechnics does not act as a host for other country’s student. A polytechnic on the other hand, sends their final year students for internship, where they get to gain experience in the job field that they will be specialising in in the future. A junior college student does not have this kind of privilege. This gives polytechnic student an edge in the future when they step out to the working society as they are equipped with valuable experiences.
2.4 Varying methods of assessment
Students are assessed differently in polytechnics and junior college. In polytechnics, students do not have to go through a national level examination and are graded based on their daily assignments and normal examinations. Hence, a polytechnic student will have to put in much effort in every piece of work they are submitting. They are then assessed based on their Grade Point Average, with 4 being the perfect score. Universities will look at a polytechnic student’s Grade Point Average if the student wish to move on to the university. On the other hand, a junior college student would have to go through a national level examination at the end of their two year education. The national level examination‘s result will be what junior college student uses to enter the university. This is similar to what they have been through in primary school and secondary school in order to get to the next milestone of their education.
2.5 Job and education prospects of graduates
Upon graduation, the certificate that both polytechnic and junior college students receive are of different value. Polytechnic students will have an easier time searching for a job as their certification is of higher value. This is due to polytechnics being classified under tertiary education whereas junior college’s is only a pre-tertiary education. Hence, a polytechnic student will have higher advantages in searching for a job than a junior college student as he or she is equipped with experiences from their internship training and holds a certification of a tertiary education. However, if both students are competing for a place in local universities, a junior college would stand a higher chance to secure the place. Local universities only fix a certain percentage of their places for polytechnics students. (Poly students on degree path need more routes) Polytechnic students who manage to get into university might get modules exemption if they major in the same field as their polytechnic course. Therefore, junior college students stand a higher chance to continue their education in the local universities while polytechnic students have better job prospects.
3 Different education fees and related expenses
Both education systems vary in their affordability. In comparison, polytechnic education is less affordable than junior college due to their annual school fees and transportation expenses.
3.1 Annual school fees
There is a very huge difference in the school fees between junior college and polytechnic. Junior college school fees are highly subsidised by the government (Ministry of Education, Singapore: Education System: Pre-University Education) and can go as low as $6. On the other hand, polytechnic school fees are as high as $2,250 for Singaporean students. (Polytechnics, ITEs to raise school fees for AY 2012) Students will also need to purchase a laptop which can cost up to $2,000. However, there are many bursary application opened for students in order to ease their financial burdens. (Overview)
3.2 Transportation expenses are cheaper for some
A junior college student gets to pay less than a polytechnic student when using public transportation. This is due to junior college students being able to retain their student fare whereas polytechnic students are forced to pay adult fare. (Concessions for poly students will cost transport operators $28m more) However, polytechnic student‘s flexible timetable will allow them to do part-time work in order to cope with the rising cost of transportation.
4 Campus environment and learning spaces
Polytechnics and junior college have very different campus environment. This is due to the difference in their campus size and facilities. There is also no dress code enforced in polytechnics.
4.1 Campus facilities vary between institutions
Polytechnics have a significantly wider variety of facilities and a larger campus when compared to junior colleges. This is because polytechnics have a larger intake of students totaling up to 15,000 students. Hence, a large amount of classroom and facilities is needed to accommodate the student population and to facilitate their learning. There is also facilities room such as Studio 27 in Ngee Ann Polytechnic which allows students to play with console games. (Friends of NP) You can hardly find such facilities in a junior college due to the immense focus placed on studies.
4.2 Co-Curricular Activities available to students
As polytechnics have a wide range of facilities such as swimming pool, it created possibilities of a wide range of co-curricular activities. Hence, in comparison with junior colleges, polytechnics have a wider range of co-curricular activities for students to choose from. (Clubs & Societies )
4.3 Dress code for students
Dress code plays a huge role in creating the campus environment. In junior colleges, students are to wear uniforms and adhere to the dress code. Being in an environment with everyone wearing the same uniform tends to create a more “school-like” atmosphere. On the other hand, polytechnics students are allowed to wear their home clothes with minimum rules to follow.
This paper has examined the differences between polytechnics and junior colleges. Polytechnics student have lower studying period. They also have to pay higher fees for education. Despite this, polytechnic students get to enjoy a wider variety of co-curricular activities, campus facilities and get to graduate with industry experiences and a tertiary education certificate. Regardless of the vast differences between the two education systems as explained in the previous pointers, polytechnics proved to be a better education system for students after graduating from secondary school. This is because while polytechnic students have a lesser chance to get into local universities, polytechnic students still gain many valuable internship experiences and learn skills and knowledge that can be applied while they are working. Inevitably, all students will end up in the working society and this gives polytechnic students a head start as they have been through similar experiences.
Polytechnic students also get to enjoy a more vibrant school life as they are not bounded by dress code and have many opportunities to participate in co-curricular activities and school events. Therefore, polytechnic education is a better education system as compared to junior college. Nevertheless, one should not just simply choose polytechnics due to the above reasons. Students should evaluate on what career path they wish to embark on in the future before making their decision. If a student still does not know what they want to do in life, they should pick a junior college and later make their decision in universities. But if a student already has a specialised field that he/she is interested in, they should pick a polytechnic as this gives them an insight of what they will be doing in the future.
Clubs & Societies . (n.d.). Retrieved from Ngee Ann Polytechnic: http://www.np.edu.sg/SDAR/CCA/Pages/default.aspx Concessions for poly students will cost transport operators $28m more. (n.d.). Retrieved from
asiaone: http://motoring.asiaone.com/Motoring/News/Story/A1Story20120118-322656.html Education Statistics Digest 2012. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ministry of Education: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/education-statistics-digest/files/esd-2012.pdf Friends of NP. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ngee Ann Polytechnic: http://www1.np.edu.sg/friends/campuslife/Campus_facilities.asp Ministry of Education, Singapore: Education System: Pre-University Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ministry of Education, Singapore: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/pre-u/#footnote-2 Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ngee Ann Polytechnic: http://www.np.edu.sg/ss/financial/Pages/FT_Financial_Assistance_Overview.aspx Poly students on degree path need more routes. (n.d.). Retrieved from asiaone: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Education/Story/A1Story20090526-143951.html Polytechnics, ITEs to raise school fees for AY 2012. (n.d.). Retrieved from Yahoo! News Singapore: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/polytechnics–ites-to-raise-school-fees-for-ay-2012.html