7 Things To Know before entering Polytechnic


With a new batch of students joining polytechnics as freshmen this month, I decided to write a guide to Polytechnic so new students can know what to expect in their first year in polytechnic. Polytechnics in Singapore adopt a more relaxed environment compared to secondary school, which allows students to focus on independent learning. And it’s a huge jump from what you’re used to in secondary school.

Here are 7 things one should know before entering polytechnic.


1. Don’t underestimate the stress levels


You probably heard that life in poly is slack and full of freedom. It may be one of the reasons you didn’t want to go to junior college. I can bet you 50 bucks that in less than a year, you will be crying on Twitter or Facebook about how stressful poly is.

In secondary school, you meet the same people everyday, some may have even come from your primary school. Almost everyone has mutual friends with one another. Even if you have the tendency to slack off during classes, your teachers are there for assistance. In Polytechnic, many of your friends will be new and you’ll have to fit into a new social circle and force yourself out of your comfort zone.

So here is social stress and exam stress. Unlike a secondary school, everything in a polytechnic is less rigid. Classes are spread out and you can choose to attend your lectures/tutorials. School work will never be a piece of cake. In secondary school I would have been contented with a C. It’s a different case in poly because an A and a B+ has a huge impact on your GPA.


You are fighting for your own survival by being independent and making your own decisions. It’s up to you to know when should be break time and when you should be mugging. I would say secondary school is more of an experience, and poly is when you learn more about yourself as an individual.


2. Beware the drama is magnified here



You can get all the drama from secondary school in poly as well – backstabbers, an unknown guy who becomes a popz kid overnight, cat fights etc. Just like in secondary school, cliques develop and there may be even people you detest a lot. The plus point? You get to choose or change your class(es) after every semester or year depending on your course. This is definitely useful in broadening your social network for the future. 

On a brighter note, you get to chill in poly as much as you did in secondary school. In fact, you will relax a lot more thanks to the long term breaks and down time. 

As for me, semester breaks are long enough for me to try incredibly cool things that I thought will remain on my bucket list permanently without being checked off.


3. Join a CCA


If you are going to think that being in a polytechnic is all about studying, then you’re wrong. As cliché as it sounds, CCA helps to build one’s character by developing certain aspects such as leadership and teamwork. 

Joining a CCA also helps you to gain CCA points which is important if you want to have a strong portfolio to enter university or get a job. The best time to gain CCA points is during your first year in polytechnic because it will be too late (and you will be too busy) in your second or third year. 

In addition, you will meet many interesting people in a CCA. Some of the people that you meet may eventually be your close friends throughout your poly life, or even after poly. You will also meet people who possess a wealth of knowledge whom you can learn a lot from.


4. Fight the urge to eat non-stop


There are affordable food everywhere in poly but that’s not the point. The point is them food iz good.


Unlike your small secondary school canteen, there is now a large variety of cuisines to choose from. You will then try to draw up an exercise regimen but it will get messed up anyway. You will reject going to the school gym (although it is free) because there will be excuses such as homework when you know you’ll not spend the gym time doing it.

One cancellation leads to another, and then another. Perhaps you’ll skip lunch or dinner and your weight eventually decrease. Whatever it is, your weight will fluctuate wildly.



5. Prepare to meet all new kinds of people



Before I entered poly, I’d already heard of stories about people being fake and free-riders who will leech you off for the grades during group projects. Well sadly it’s true. However I realised that these people aren’t worth my attention and it is pointless get into any politics because it’s too complicated and you’ll be too busy to bother anyway.

In addition, you are bound to meet many others such as chiongsters and or even the “‘I’m Going To Fail’ But Actually Tops The Class” types. You may want to prepare yourself by reading up on our Types of Students you can find in Singapore.


6. Brace yourself for the daily Fashion show


Media students and business students are famous for being fashionable and their daily outfit-of-the-day (ootd) posts on instagram are either going to inspire or depress you. Hopefully the former!

Alright, so you don’t have to walk into school as if it’s the runway for the NY Fashion Week but you can’t dress too sloppily either because you are still expected to dress up when it’s necessary. Indeed there are dress down days when I prefer comfort over style. But you should at least make an effort to dress for school.

Also check out our list of 15 ways Singaporean students dress to school. Try to fall in one of the better categories!


7. Drunk Nights Await – Enjoy them!


There will be one night when you will get more drunk than you’d expected or may  have to take care of a friend who did. 

A cool part of poly is the tremendous amount of party/dinner invites you’ll get. You’ll frequent camp dinners, class dinners, birthday parties etc, not to mention that almost everyone is near or has reached the legal age to drink. There will be one night when you’ll try to test your limits and wake up like this.



Make the best of your life at Polytechnic!


Overall, studying in a polytechnic has its fair share of challenges and requirements. Grades are important but learn to work hard and play hard. It’s your decision to make that 3 years of your life into a weary or rewarding one.

As for me, I haven’t regretted going to poly to pursue my dream career. Almost everyone I met made my first year in poly an awesome one. And I hope all of your new students to Poly end up enjoying your Poly life too!

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