SmileTutor Blog Parents Key Decisions Polytechnic or Junior College? How to Help Your Child Make the Right Choice

Polytechnic or Junior College? How to Help Your Child Make the Right Choice

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As a parent, you want to help your child make the right decision when transitioning from secondary school into an institution of higher learning (IHL).

Understanding your child’s interests, strengths, and learning styles makes deciding simple.

A polytechnic is a higher education institution that offers a range of courses in various fields. On the other hand, junior colleges (JC) are two-year pre-university institutions that offer Arts and Science subjects, giving your child a better chance of joining the university.

Choosing between a polytechnic and junior college can be challenging. Here are some tips to help your child make the right decision for their future.

Understand the Difference between Polytechnic and Junior College

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A two-year JC program provides students with a challenging academic curriculum and thorough preparation for the A-level exams.

On the other hand, a polytechnic education provides students with a hands-on and interactive experience in their chosen area of study.

Students get real-world encounters through an internship before they graduate with a diploma after three years of study.

Lessons at the polytechnic focus more on research and development, while JC courses are more theoretical and focus on preparing students for university-level study.

A polytechnic offers diplomas, and JC offers a subject-based program, where they get different qualifications when they graduate.

Talk to Current Students and Alumni

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Talk to current students and alums from both types of institutions to gain insight into the learning experience and job prospects for graduates.

You can also make a point of visiting the institutions to understand the course structure and environment better. You can get a feel of the campus, talk to the staff and students, and better understand the institution.

Seeking professional advice can be a valuable resource in helping you make the right decision.

Many polytechnic courses have a similar structure. In most cases, all polys prepare students for the industry and focus on providing graduates who are ready to work.

Once you understand your child’s interest, delve into what each polytechnic offers. Look at the curriculum and see how it’s delivered. All five polys hold an Open House Annually where parents can check out their subjects online.

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Chat rooms with senior students and lecturers are available for you to ask questions.

You can speak with a counsellor at your child’s school or attend an Education and Career Guidance workshop if unsure how best to help your child choose their future career.

Study Duration

Students attend JC for two years. In Singapore, students may attend junior college for two years and take their A’ levels. If they pass the exams, they then apply to enter the university of their choice.

Polytechnic—which lasts three years—is an additional one-year extra where students can gain specialised skills that often lead to employment after graduation.

Cost Per Month For Singaporeans

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The cost of JCs and polys varies greatly. Most JC students pay less than S$10 a month, but some independent ones, like Raffles Junior College, charge higher fees.

Tuition in an independent JC and can cost up to $300 a month. Depending on the course, polytechnic fees vary between $200 and $300; but other costs are also involved.

JC students pay concession fees to ride public transportation, just as secondary school students do. Polytechnic students must pay adult fares unless they buy a concession scheme.

Food in the JC canteen can be cheaper than that of polytechnic canteens because they have high-end cafes at their entrances.

Additionally, JCs have uniforms that eliminate the need to change clothes daily. Polys do not have this advantage, which means more money is spent on clothing than you would at a JC.

Number of Institutions

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  1. Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  2. Nanyang Polytechnic
  3. Singapore Polytechnic
  4. Republic Polytechnic
  5. Temasek Polytechnic


  1. Nanyang JC
  2. Jurong Pioneer JC 
  3. Tampines Meridian JC
  4. Hwa Chong Institution
  5. Catholic JC
  6. Anglo-Chinese JC
  7. Anglo-Chinese Independent
  8. Anderson Serangoon JC
  9. Eunoia JC
  10. Yishun Innova JC
  11. Victoria JC
  12. Temasek JC
  13. St – Andrew JC
  14. Raffles JC
  15. National JC

Chances of University Admission

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The JC entrance exam leads to the A-levels, often required for university admission. Universities tend to prefer JC students over those who have graduated from polytechnic.

Even if you perform poorly (below average) on your A levels, opportunities for entering a university are still more significant than those of someone who has done well on their polytechnic exams but whose grades may be above average.

  • Local universities accept 75% of JC applications.
  • Poly’s admission rate is 30 percent (into local universities).

Career Paths

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Many students look for workplaces that offer training and opportunities to learn new skills.

According to a recent study, healthcare, computer science, information technology, and the medical industry are among JC and polytechnic graduates’ most popular career choices.


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Making the right decision for your child’s future is an important task.

A two-year JC course offers students a deep and broad grounding in academic and technical subjects that prepare them for their A-level exams.

On the other hand, polytechnic graduates receive hands-on applied training in a specific area of study. 

Students complete internships and gain industry experience during their three years at the school.

To make the right choice, students can get advice from their teachers and school’s education and career guidance counsellor about which pathway would be best for them based on their interests, learning style, and personal growth goals.

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.