SmileTutor Blog General Others Why Are More Students Joining Poly?

Why Are More Students Joining Poly?


In 2021, the Ministry of Education (MOE) reported that 52 per cent of the 20,300 O level candidates were posted to polytechnics in the previous year. This was done via the Joint Admissions Exercise.

Surprisingly, 45 per cent of these candidates were eligible to join Junior College (JC) – which requires a lower aggregate score for entry than for poly.

And it’s not just for this year. Over the past few years, MOE has observed that a larger percentage of students opt for the polytechnic path instead of the Junior College path. What is causing this phenomenon? Let’s find out.

Shift in Perspectives


In the past, poly was considered the institution for ‘people who can’t make it into JCs’. However, over the years, this stigma has been dramatically reduced.

Now more people see poly as a vocational institute that allows students to gain industry-relevant experience. Internships and exchange programs also help students better integrate into the workforce after graduation.

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Practicality of a Diploma


After graduating from poly, students receive a diploma, allowing them to apply for jobs and start working immediately. This is because a diploma shows that they have industry-relevant skills and practical experience, which they can apply to their job.

Some students aim to use their diplomas to work to fund their degrees. Others plan to work and not pursue a degree, which is impossible with an A-level certificate. After all, they’ll need a degree to work after getting an A-level certificate which takes four more years.

Try Out Their Selected Course


When students pursue a diploma, they get to experiment and try pursuing their passions. The three years in their course allows them to learn more about the industry and get more industry-related experience. This is because diploma courses offer:
1. Internships
2. Practical learning and hand-on experience
3. Industry-relevant projects
4. Opportunities for students to work with professionals in the industry through client projects, masterclasses, and extra-curricular programmes.

However, some might find that the industry doesn’t suit them. So they fall back on a course change in uni, allowing them to get a degree in a separate area of expertise. Then they use this degree to apply to relevant jobs and positions.

More Poly Diploma Holders can Enter a Local University


Since the Government announced an expansion of university places in 2012, more poly graduates are able to make it into local universities. In fact, the entry rate increased by 10 per cent (20 per cent in 2012 to 30 per cent in 2019)!

Before, it was more challenging to enter a local university with a poly diploma than an A-level certificate. This was why many students joined the JC route then. But now that poly students have an equal chance to get into university, many are more open to joining poly.

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Multiple Pathways to Enter Poly


Multiple pathways allow students to enter poly. For example, students can apply to poly through these admission exercises:
1. Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE)
2. Early Admissions Exercise (EAE)
3. Direct Admissions Exercise (DAE).
4. Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP)
5. Joint Polytechnic Admissions Exercise (JPAE)

However, to enter JC, students can only apply through Direct School Admissions (DSA) or JAE. Hence why many students are entering poly instead.

More Freedom

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In poly, students find that they have more freedom compared to those in JC. This is because timetables are less intensive in poly, and students are given more time to focus on their studies and project work.

Not to mention that in poly, it is not compulsory to take on a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA). JC, on the other hand, makes it compulsory and it can be more stressful. Students have to juggle packed timetables, revision, homework, and CCA all at the same time.


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Joining poly is becoming more accepted and more common nowadays, unlike before when it was less well-known and surrounded by a stigma. There is also more emphasis on industry-related skills and experience too, hence why more students are joining poly.

Let us know in the comments if you prefer to join JC or poly!

JC vs. Poly: The Pros and Cons

What to Do After O Levels – JC, Poly, or Retake?

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.