What’s next after the O-Levels?
In Singapore, most O-Level holders proceed to one of the following post-secondary institutions:
- Junior Colleges/Centralised Institute: Students can apply for pre-university education at the junior colleges (two-year course) or centralised institute (three-year course at Millennia Institute) leading to the GCE A-Level exams. They can also opt for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and St. Joseph’s Institution.
- Polytechnics: Students interested in a more hands-on pathway may apply for full-time diploma courses at the polytechnics.
- Institute of Technical Education (ITE): Students may also apply to the ITE to pursue technical or vocational education. ITE graduates who wish to further their education can do so at the polytechnics, or through the ITE’s Technical Diploma programmes.
- Arts Institutions. Students keen on creative arts at the tertiary level can enrol in programmes offered by the LASALLE College of the Arts or the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). These institutions offer degree and diploma programmes in the visual and performing arts, such as music, theatre, dance, interior design, and fashion design.
Those who wish to apply to junior colleges, the Millennia Institute, polytechnics, or the ITE can do so through the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE). For the most updated and accurate information on post-secondary pathways, refer to the Ministry of Education’s official website.
Make The Most Of The E-Open House
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that all open house events have gone virtual, thanks to Covid-19. No matter the format, open house events can only provide a snapshot of what a school is like — at the end of the day, how an individual takes to a school is a highly subjective experience.
With e-Open House events, the big advantage is that it’s less physically taxing to assess schools, and less time consuming too. If you’re resourceful, you may find yourself covering more ground and garnering more information than if you had visited the schools in person!
Below are five tips for making your e-Open House experience count:
- Research and reflect beforehand. Wondering what’s the advantage of an IB education over the A-Levels route, or if your teen would be better suited for polytechnic life? Not sure what courses are available at the ITE? Wondering if an arts education at LASALLE and NAFA can lead to good job prospects in the future? You don’t have to wait for an open-house event to find the answers to these questions. There is already a wealth of information online, with great advice for O-Level students at the crossroads. Most school websites will also have comprehensive information about what they offer, along with FAQ lists. In the case of the ITEs, as well as LASALLE and NAFA, you can refer to graduate employment surveys to assess the earning potential for graduates. Similar information for polytechnic graduates is available via local news articles.
- If in doubt, make an appointment with an MOE career counsellor. There are Education and Career Guidance counsellors attached to all secondary schools, and they would be the right people to turn to for advice. They can administer tests to assess your teen’s aptitude, and through conversation, they can discern what your teen’s needs and concerns might be. They can also help your teen to narrow down his or her options, based on eligibility and strengths.
- Sign up early for open house webinars. Nothing beats being able to interact with school personnel and ask questions, so make it a point to register for webinars before slots are filled — they tend to fill fast for popular schools. To maximise your time, look for sessions that best fit your needs. You may want someone to give you an overview of options, or your teen may already have specific courses that he or she wants to find out more about. What’s less useful is the school tour, as there will be ample time to explore a school down the road. To stay organised, be sure to note the dates and times for the webinars that you’ve registered for, and set your reminders accordingly.
- Make a list of interesting polytechnic courses. Be warned that wading through polytechnic options can be overwhelming. If your child is interested in joining a polytechnic, he or she can browse each polytechnic’s website to shortlist suitable courses. Begin by looking at the course clusters, such as Business & Accountancy, Engineering, or Infocomm Technology. Your teen may already hold preferences for certain clusters, or you may have a few ideas, based on your teen’s academic performance in secondary school. Within each cluster, you can see the courses that are offered, and what the compulsory and elective modules are. If module descriptions are available, do read them carefully. You can also look up course lecturers to find out about their expertise areas — many post their profiles on LinkedIn.
- Ask questions! If you can’t get a webinar slot, simply call the school, or contact them via e-mail or Facebook. Some areas that you might like to find out about include assessment criteria and internship (or growth) opportunities. But bear in mind that certain initiatives — such as overseas attachments — would have been affected by Covid-19.
Post-Secondary Open House Events 2021