Transitioning to Junior College: What to Expect

Now that you are almost done with your Secondary education, you are thinking, “What next?” If you are considering entering a Junior College (JC), you will also wonder, “What can I expect if I were to continue my pre-university education in a JC?”

While you have spent a long 4 years in secondary school, your time in a JC will be half of that: short, jam-packed with studies and activities, tiring, but also exhilarating. There will be many times you will find JC life challenging, but fear not, it will also be fun and fulfilling.

Your social circle will widen as you connect with new people from different schools and different backgrounds. You will form new friendships that will last long after you graduate and go into the work force. You will learn to manage relationships with your peers and teachers, and have the opportunity to brush up on your leadership skills by taking on new responsibilities when you join CCAs in a fast-paced environment.

The A-Level Curriculum

Each JC can offer between 60-80 different subject combinations. It is important that you make your decision carefully based on your APTITUDE and INTEREST, and take into account what you wish to pursue in university and your career choice (Do you want to be a doctor? Lawyer? Banker? Teacher? Actor?). Suffice to say, regardless of whether you choose to do Science or Arts, you will always need to take on a Contrasting Subject from the other stream. Which contrasting subject you choose will again depend on your aptitude and interest. There are also Compulsory Subjects you will need to do, like General Paper and Project Work.

Is the A-Level curriculum just an extension of your O-Level curriculum? Just like when you first entered Secondary 1 after PSLE there was a jump in the number of new subjects you take and depth of content, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sudden increase in content and the level of difficulty when you start JC1, even if you have taken the subject before. You may also decide to study an entirely new subject like Economics or China Studies in English. Whatever subjects you eventually choose, there will be significant challenges and it will not be a walk in the park. After all, the A-Level syllabus has been tailored to prepare you for University!

Before you panic, however, there are ample ways to manage and even stay on top of new curriculum. From our long experience, these are the key tips we can share with you:

1. Keep up with your daily work even at the start of JC1.

Many students get distracted by the exciting college life teeming with orientation activities, new friends, new CCAs, so much so that they put their studies as their last priority. NEVER DO THAT!

2. Know your syllabus inside out.

Download and keep the syllabus documents for all your subjects (H2 and H1) with you throughout the learning process. They are available on the SEAB website and the teachers may also print them for you. Syllabus documents are a good way to know way in advance what you will learn and how well you have learnt the topics.

3. Know the ins and outs of the lecture and tutorial system.

Lectures provide the platform for the communication of broad concepts and building of content; tutorials provide students with exposure to question types and ample practice on topics covered in the syllabus. Most crucially, do your tutorials consistently and do not take the easy way out. It is far better to try and find out what you do not know than to copy answers from others without processing the information and going through the motions.

4. Be proactive and take responsibility for your own learning, your mental well-being and your health. Don’t leave your questions to the last minute (as in, just before your exams) and ask your teachers (or your external tutors) for help. They are the best resource that you can ever get! If you are feeling stressed out, speak to your school counsellors. The last thing you want to do is bottle up negative feelings. Know your physical limits, do not take on too many things if you are tired!

5. Master the art of time management.

JC life WILL BE hectic, and we are not kidding. We cannot emphasise more that there are only 24 hours each day and you have to make sure you juggle your studies and CCAs well. And again, time management during your examinations – an essay is to be written in 45 minutes, not 2 hours! Much of how your overcome your challenges in JC will be based on how well you manage your time in the next 24 months.

With the above in mind, we are confident you will be able to fully enjoy your college life, and grow into the awesome adult we believe you will become. Remember, you make your own college experience, so it make it into something you will cherish for the rest of your life!

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