Polytechnic VS Junior College: Which Is The Better Path To Take?

The transition after O-Levels is a significant one and students often stress themselves out in making an informed decision. Students seek the advice of their O-Level tuition teachers to help them make the right choice as to whether Junior College or polytechnic would be the best option. The confusion often stems from a lack of understanding of what either pathway have to offer students.

investment pathway
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Junior college is generally considered the more challenging route as it is a 2-year rigorous curriculum that requires students to be extremely disciplined and hard working. Polytechnic is a little more relaxed but it has its very own challenges which includes projects and oral presentations with tight deadlines. The exposures are different, the experiences are unique and the challenges vary.

So, let’s break this down for you by taking a look at the differences between junior college and polytechnic!


The educational institution options vary for both these pathways.

For polytechnics, they are:

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

The junior college available are:

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

There are a wider variety of options for the number of institutions for junior college. However, there are different faculties and a wide variety of courses in Polytechnic as well. Since we cannot compare apple with oranges, number of institutions is not a key factor that one needs to look into. However, it is important to be aware of the options available.


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The number of years taken to complete junior college is 2 years. On the other hand, it takes about 3 years for one to complete polytechnic. Some may not care about the extra one year that goes into polytechnic as one can graduate with a diploma certificate. Whereas for those who graduate junior college, they would emerge out with an A-Level certificate which is often no sufficient to enter a workforce with. It is better to enter into university to pursue a degree.

This is an important reason why Junior college education is known as “pre-university education”.


This is a very subjective matter as everyone perceives and copes with stress in different ways. Nonetheless, this can be taken as a synonym for the workload. Junior college is more well-known for its arduous journey as students struggle to cope with the content and the stress associated with the examinations.

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In polytechnic, majority of courses are a little more relaxed (in comparison to junior college) while some courses certainly expect students to do a lot. However, in general, polytechnic goes for a more practical approach and prepares students for the workforce. It equips students with soft skills and engages them in many group projects, discussions and presentations.

It is important to note that MOE’s figures show that almost 400 to 500 students make the switch from a junior college to a polytechnic every year. This is testament to the fact that junior college is a more stressful journey. However, this should not be the main deciding factor for students who have completed their O-Levels. This is because many students emerge successfully from junior college and enter their desired courses in university.


Junior colleges follow the lecture-tutorial system which is similar to university education. But it offers subjects instead of courses. Students can choose their subjects for the H1 and H2 level according to their preferences and their grades. Subjects offered in junior college include a wide variety in both science and the arts stream. On top of this, in year 1, students need to complete project work, which is the more hands-on component.

MPC subjects
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In polytechnic, courses would be offered and some examples are accounting & finance, interior architecture and design, and computer engineering. They have more of a practical approach to learning and students would be trained in a different way as compared to that of junior college. The approach is more targeted towards preparing students for the workforce when in polytechnic.


In fact, there is no such thing as a “better choice”. Junior college and polytechnics have their very own pros and cons and students have to always choose based on their preferences as well as strengths and weaknesses. Discussing with tuition teachers would be a helpful thing before making an informed decision.