Poly grad can’t get into SG uni. My thoughts and advice

And so a ‘whistle blowing’ poly grad asks why the application to local universities were rejected except for the institution that is at the bottom of the hierarchy when he/she had a nearly perfect GPA and a medalist for the course.

This is not surprising. Having taught in both poly and subsequently JC later, I have to admit that the academic rigor is much higher in the latter. From my observation, scoring a near perfect GPA does not account for much. One of the greatest reasons for quitting my lecturer position in one of the local polytechnics was because of my moral disagreement with the grade inflation. I, together with fellow colleagues were pressured to deliver the A grades so that the students upon graduation can go on to score brand name university admissions. This was considered great achievement and publicity for the school.

Over time however, the value of the A grade is cheapened as more and more students start getting the near perfect GPA. And the quality of the students was dropping even as the GPAs were rising.

The person mention about achieving stellar O level results. Although trying to build a strong case, this also highlights his/her shortfall in understanding the current education landscape. The person failed to realize that majority of the Crème de la crème have gone on to bypass the O levels straight into IP/IB/special programs, the resulting students who go on to take O levels therefore have less competition and thus the 2nd tier of students based on performance now move on to the ‘top’ by default.

The A level/IB/NUS high students are deemed to more academically capable (the exams are at the other extreme with some of the toughest and mst stringent requirements) and therefore offered majority of available university admissions.

What does this mean for the secondary school going student?

If you want the highest chances of getting into the local university, then an A level/IB/NUS high route is the most direct and offers the most opportunities. But the journey is tough. Not for the faint hearted.

But if you want sometime to explore your options and develop practical skills, the polytechnic education still have a lot to offer. And in the event if application is not successful you will be equipped for employment at the very least – to fill the rank and file blue collar workforce, the original motive of the MOE when the system was created.

Some however, find their way out of the doldrums and refused to be defeated and go on to achieve much later in their lives. COMMENT.


  • On August 08, 2016