O level students, congratulations! The dreaded O levels are finally over! It is time to take a well-deserved break while you still can, before your results are released – and you are presented with a dilemma: poly or JC?

Why you should choose poly over JC

You may think O levels are bad but wait until you sit for A levels.  Content wise, A levels are unsurprisingly much harder than O levels. They are named advanced levels for a reason. Not only are the exams hard to pass, but the way your school prepares you can also be unbearable for some people. Leading up to those dreaded exams are 2 horribly intensive years, when all you do is cram, practice and repeat. In fact, A levels are known to get so stressful that a few JC students commit suicide every once in a while, especially during the hell months that are September and October.  The fact that one exam determines your whole future is what makes it so stressful, unlike in Poly where everything is cumulative. For people who have a weak heart and low stress threshold, take this into consideration seriously.

Another reason why you should choose Poly – you get to show off your fashion sense. In poly, the lecturers (note: they are no longer called teachers because it is no longer their duty to teach you. If you do not learn, you simply get a lecture) do not really care about how you dress, so long as you don’t come to school half-naked. There is no uniform whatsoever. Although that also means that, if you are as lazy as a sloth superglued to a tree, then you are better off going to JC, which bring us to…

Why you should choose JC over poly

You get to wear a uniform, show off your school pride and get 30 mins more of sleep every morning not having to decide what to wear! How awesome is that???

Moreover, you study 2 years instead of 3 years before moving on to university. Disclaimer: that is, if your JC does not have a crazy retention rate of 50%.

If you are indecisive about what to do in the future, JC is also a great holding area while you make up your mind. In the meantime, you get to study a variety of subjects. Doesn’t sound like a convincing reason to you? Perhaps. But once you have entered university, you will appreciate the diversity. In fact, I have a pharmacy friend who regrets rejecting Yale NUS’ offer to study liberal arts once she realised how dry it is to go really deep into one subject. So embrace the diversity while you still have the chance.

If you doubt that you will be the top 10% of your cohort in poly and still want to enjoy varsity life, then the safer bet is to go to JC. Sure, A levels may be hard, but you do not need straight As to get into a local university. A few Cs and Ds can still land you a place inside NUS. Whereas, if you go the poly route, you better make sure your GPA is impressive.

And why would you want to spend another 4 years studying when you could be working, you ask. Well, the sad truth is, graduate pay is much better than diploma pay from the onset. And the difference in treatment will only get more and more obvious the longer you work. You will find that your graduate friends get faster promotions, higher pay rises and more attention from the bosses, even if you are the more capable one. Such is the difference one sheet of certificate can make. Because of this, many poly graduates eventually find themselves enrolling into private universities after a few years of working experience. Simply because that is the easiest way to stop unfair discrimination against them so as to fulfil their career aspirations.

Like all choices, there are both pros and cons to poly and JC. Choose wisely, because after all, you are only 17 once.