Sunday, December 24, 2006

Education Vs Education

Before anything else, i will first like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. The following content will probably be of interest to the younger generation out there.

Decisions are to be made on a day in day out basis. One of the most important decisions is to make a decision on whether to pursue your education in a Junior college or a Polytechnic and probably even an ITE. Theres a distinct difference between all 3, and people will usually have the best of both worlds if the choice permits. Let us have a simple comparison of the 3 in terms of focus.

Junior Colleges (JC) put their main focus in providing knowledge to the students in terms of general subjects and theory like what you do in Primary and Secondary schools. the only difference in this sense is they try to operate the school like any other tertiary institution by having lectures and tutorials. People always believe that choosing a JC between any other things is a shortcut to a university due to the course duration of 2 years. anybody ever did some thorough analysis and thinking about what happens if you don't make it either in JC or Uni? Maybe w will answer this question at the end.

Polytechnics (Poly) are more focused simply because they give students additional choices in terms of what they are more interested in, and also the thing that they will most likely be doing in the future. The subjects/modules that you take will depend on your course of study. Polys are more project oriented in terms of putting a heavier weightage in projects for most modules. This gives the the students weaker in examinations and theory a better chance in pulling through as compared to a JC. A typical Diploma course lasts for 3 years, which is a slight disadvantage when time becomes the main factor.

ITE are designed in a way to give more choices to students who do not do well in theory, by focusing more in practical work. ITE is basically like a preparation for students to pursue for higher levels of certification most probably being a polytechnic. In the modern Singapore, ITE certifications are also widely recognised by most organisations as our nation shifts their focus as a whole.

Here comes the last part of making a decision. There is no right or wrong answer, but only a choice that you believe is most suited for you. Remember the answer of what happens if you fail to make it through the JC course or if you are a JC student failing to make it through the Uni? My answer will most likely deter some of you from going to the JC. If you fail to make it through the JC in the first year, you still can make a decision to fall back to a Poly or to continue trying, but i seriously believe the second alternative is a waste of time. There is absolutely no point in wasting an additional of 1 year of your time just to struggle your way through as there is definitely better choices out there like falling back to a poly. Even if you make it through to the Uni, but what are the chances that you can get into a course that you like? What happens if you do not make it through the Uni? Do you seriously think the JC certification is of any use of helping you secure a job? It is only a shortcut through a JC when you are confident of pulling through and also securing a place in a course of your liking in the Uni. These people will most likely be only the top 25% of every JC, but i may be wrong in some ways. In comparison, admitting into a poly will provide you with a safer route although you spend an additional year before making it into a university. A diploma will definitely be more then enough to secure you a decent job with decent remuneration, but also depending on your performance in the poly. At least you still have a recognised certificate and also specialisation to hunt for a job. In fact there are quite a number of students who do very well in their 'O' Levels chose to pursue their education in a poly instead of a JC, and it is really not very difficult to go to the university when you study in a poly.

After analysing on what school to choose, we come to the issue of whether to further your education in a university immediately after you obtain a diploma in a polytechnic. Why do we have to even think about this? A degree is so important now that it becomes almost a must to have it. The issue now is not whether we must have it, it is more on the issue of when to get it. A JC student will have not much choices because the 'A' Level certificate will not bring them anywhere else. An additonal note will be that, a poly grad with degree will most likely to have an advantage over a JC grad with a degree. Not because of the duration of study, but more on the skills that you obtained during that period of time. a Poly grad with degree will have had more hands on practice as compared to their JC counterparts. Back to the topic of when to get a degree will depend very much on your/family's financial status. If you are rich, there will be no problems at all because wheter to continue will depend on yourself or your parents. What about those that are in the middle or lower income group? Is it really a must to get a degree immediately?

If you fall in that group, you will probably need to get a loan from a bank or any financial institute to finance your Uni studies. By doing this, you are directly putting your own financial status into debt. You will be wondering what is the alternative if you do not get a loan. The only alternative will be to get a job with your diploma (if you have one) and start working to save for your University fees. By doing so, you are also accumulating working experience, which is definitely more important to whether you have a degree or not. Some of you may disagree, but you just have to think and observe the job market hard enough. There are not many organisations out there willing to give loads of fresh graduates a chance to prove their worth as they prefer a quick fix then a long term investment. Lets do some calculation to compare the 2 financing alternatives for your university education.

Student A (Loan):

Income: $0.00 (Curent)
(Less) Debt: $20,000 (Future repayment of $333/mth over 5 years with no interests)
Cur Status: -$20,000
Pot Income: $2,400/mth
Act Income: $2,067/mth

Student B (No Loan):

Income: $0.00 (Curent)
(Less) Debt: $0.00
Cur Status: $0.00
Pot Income: $2,100/mth (Increment of $100/year)
Act Income: $1,800/mth
Bonus: 3 Years Experience (Considering Uni counterparts take 3 year course)

The above is just an illustration, but in actual fact, do you think you will still be earning $1,800 after 3 years at any organisation? I did not even factor in the bonus that you will get for 3 years. The degree holder will be repaying his/her loan for the next few years and with no working experience, it is no gurantee that you will be able to find a job immediately and also with a high starting remuneration. Student B can always pursue a part time course or some professional certification that is relevant to your industry of work. All these are just my thoughts, and if you think that it is utter rubbish, you can just ignore it.