A few words about this list
As we usher in the New Year, many students are also ushering in a new academic year. Junior College, or more fondly known as JC, is an adventure on its own with the many ups and downs and unexpected challenges. These tips would hopefully be of help in helping you navigate this labyrinth.
I compiled this list with the help of a few friends, many of who not only survived JC but excelled in their own ways.
1. Caffeine. Lots of it.
With the amount of sleep that you are getting in JC, or rather lack thereof, it is literally impossible to survive without at least a dose of caffeine daily, unless of course you count being comatose in school as surviving. Those more practical can choose to bring a tumbler (not the blog!) to school with their choice of 3-in-1. This is definitely the most affordable option.
The more atas can sip their Joe from Good News Café or maybe even Starbucks. While others may favor caffeine in the form of Red Bull or other energy drinks. A common running joke in JC was how we should improve the delivery of caffeine such that there was a sustained time released and how there would almost certainly be a huge demand for such a product.
Alternatives: Chocolate or sweets for a sugar high to perk you up. Peppermint or sour sweets having an added advantage.
Definition of friends (in the context of JC):
- The people that wake you up when you doze off in lecture
- The people you go crazy with, so you don’t have to go crazy alone
- The people that buy you liang teh/fruit juice because they know you had a late night before
- The people you gossip with so school becomes a little less dry
- The people that you entrust to buy food for you because the queue is simply way too long and they are nearer the front of the line
- The people you find synergy with as you study together and help each other with school work
Never could I have survived JC if not for them.
3. Teachers are an amazing resource
Consultation (individual or group) is more prevalent in JC than it is in Secondary School. Also, as learning is significantly more independent in JC, it is not uncommon that the details of a concept are not thoroughly explored in lectures or tutorials. If you have any questions, do not hesitate raising them up during or after class or setup a consultation with your subject tutor.
Take note of the ways that you can contact your teacher, this will usually come during the introduction in the beginning of the year and more often than not we do not pay attention to it, as it does not seem relevant then. There have been many a times when the exams are near and I have some doubts to clear but have no idea how to contact my teachers only to realize that they have so very kindly left us with their e-mail addresses or even their hand phone numbers and they are only a click away.
It also became evident to me that in JC, the teacher-student gap has been largely reduced. Some teachers interact with students like peers although students should still accord teachers due respect. Most of us had teachers we looked up to as life mentors rather than just academic tutors, mentors that offer a wealth of advice and who are invaluable pillars of support.
4. Don’t beat yourself up
We all stumble from time to time, it might feel as though there are certain hurdles in life that are almost impossible to cross or we might even be facing our first failures of our lives in JC. Don’t be disheartened and beat yourself up about it.
Learn from your mistake and don’t be afraid to seek help if you think you need some. JC is a lot more forgiving than the real world is. Failure in the real world often comes with more dire consequences.
5. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are
2 years is a long time, most of us begin this journey fresh faced and excited but become world-weary as the year goes by. The seemingly endless routine of waking up early, going to school, returning home late and sleeping even later can get us down.
Celebrating our successes regardless of how small they are can serve to remind us of what we wish to achieve at the end of the day and allows us to push forward in the face of the humdrum of school life. And having friends that celebrate our successes with us especially when they were the ones that motivated us along the way makes those successes more meaningful. These small victories could include being able to successfully complete a week’s worth of tutorial or being on time for school for 3 consecutive days.
6. Get organized
Being organized can take the form of an organizer or a new file with individual sections for assignments or a newly tidied locker or room. Keeping an organizer, regardless of the form it takes, allows us to keep track of our progress at school and gives us a clearer picture of what is going on. Nothing is more stressful than finding out the important deadline is a few hours away, trust me.
In addition, clutter in our workspace might hinder productivity. And, if you are feeling extremely stressed out, tidying up the work area might even have a therapeutic effect.
7. Have a good relationship with your parents
Some of us might not have the best relationship with our parents and they may sometimes even be an additional source of stress or frustration. The tension with parents can sometimes be so tight that even time spent at home does not provide the internal peace and serenity needed to face the next day of school and you end up feeling more weary.
More often than not, this additional “source of stress” can be circumvented. No, I am not suggesting you run away from home. Instead, try working towards a more positive relationship with your parents; it might require effort but the payoffs are definitely worth it. With more open communication comes greater understanding of both parties, yourself and your parents, you would begin to enjoy the time spent with family and it might become a source of relaxation from the daily stress of school.
This may sound absolutely cliché but parents do give great advice most of the time. With open communication and understanding comes trust, and with greater trust, we have greater freedom to act in ways we deem fit.
Academics should be a top priority in the long term but it does not have to be one in the short term. It might serve you to set out what you wish to achieve in the academic year and come up with strategies to achieve them. Some of our goals might be time sensitive, e.g. excelling in Singapore Youth Festival competitions, sporting competition or the likes.
During those time periods, reassess your priorities even if it means putting our co-curricular activities above our academia. Train hard and work hard and achieve your goal before returning to your studies but just make sure that you do. Remain unfazed and do not feel disheartened if your results are less than ideal during those time periods where academics is not your top priority but focus your energy on achieving your goals.
It is easier to juggle one ball at a time and succeed at doing so five times than having to do so simultaneously with five balls in the air and failing.
9. Get your lamps ready
It is almost impossible to go through JC without having to burn the midnight oil. It might be the first for some of us but will definitely not be the last; walk into a JC during the exams period and you might mistake that you have walked into the set of The Walking Dead.
Studying or working on projects late into the night is not easy and is very different from surfing the web or gaming till the a.m., so to make it slightly less painful, here are a few tips. Keep your much needed caffeine and comfort food within reach and accessible, the former makes staying up possible while the latter makes things slightly more bearable.
Remember that you are not going through this alone and remind others as well; motivational text messages suddenly become more meaningful when we are all sleep-deprived.
10. Junior College is an end in itself…
…And not a means to an end. For most of us, we attend JC between the ages of 17 to 18 or maybe 19, this is an important time of personal growth (since physical growth probably stopped in Secondary School) for many of us as we learn how to be socially and morally conscious adults.
Try to do more than just survive JC and look at the 2-year journey in JC as a time for us to gain greater awareness of our surroundings and ourselves.