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Exploring the educational paths less travelled

Alternative routes you can consider after your 'A' levels.

Aisyah Lyana
Aisyah Lyana

Published: 7 April 2016, 9:46 PM

There seems to be two extremes of ‘A’ level certificate holders in Singapore.

On one extreme, we have the brilliant students with several distinctions and unconditional offers to the most prestigious scholarships and universities around the world. At the other end of the spectrum, we have students with failing grades in General Paper and other subjects, and are prompted to retake their ‘A’ levels in school.

But how about all those who fall in the middle (rank points: 60-70) of these extremes? If you attained mediocre grades at your ‘A’ levels and have a slim chance into getting a local public university, here are the alternative post-‘A’ level options you can consider.

1. Retake the ‘A’ levels

RETAKING YOUR EXAMS SOUNDS LIKE A SECOND CHANCE TO IMPROVE THE GRADES ON YOUR CERT.

If you retake the ‘A’ levels, be prepared to re-sit all your subjects, because most local universities consider only grades in a single sitting.

You will also need to find your own motivation to study without the competitive school environment, because most Junior Colleges (JC) do not accept students retaking their ‘A’ levels. Hence, you will need to fork out money to engage private tutors.

Registering to retake the ‘A’ levels is costlier than your first sitting. One H2 subject can cost between $130 to $160. However, if you managed to gain university admission this year, you can withdraw from retaking the exams and be refunded 50 per cent of the total subject fee.

2. Go to a local private university or less popular public university

Private universities are more lax in their entry requirements compared to public universities. However, there are limited courses that you can enrol in.

Needless to say, non-government-funded private universities like Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) are more costly and have limited financial support to subsidise your tuition fees.

Do note that if you get a job in the public sector with a private degree, your starting pay will be lower than your peers from public varsities. If you are considering a job in a government sector, you might want to check out the smaller public universities universities like Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and UniSIM.

3. Fly to an overseas university

I have a friend who obtained BCD/D grades (68 rank points) and was still eligible for all the courses in an Australian university, except for Medicine and Law. In fact, he was even offered a scholarship. Another friend of mine obtained ACC/C (75 rank points) and was offered Law at New Zealand’s top university.

LIVING IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY CAN BE A GREAT EXPERIENCE. YOU GET TO MEET SO MANY NEW PEOPLE AND UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT CULTURES BETTER.

However, unless you are from a wealthy family, this option is almost unfeasible. The accommodation and living expenses will be a huge financial burden on top off the expensive tuition fees for international students.

4. Explore the poly route

Most polytechnics closed their application period one week after the release of ‘A’ level results, but you can still appeal to a poly course. There are several poly courses that allow ‘A’ level graduates to be exempted from certain modules, and obtain a diploma in just two years.

After getting the diploma, some overseas universities allow diploma students to obtain a bachelor’s degree with one or two years exemption, depending on your polytechnic GPA results.

5. Attend a specialised institute

If you have a great talent in the arts, it can be nurtured if you attend a specialised institute. There are arts colleges like LASALLE and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) which provide comprehensive programmes in the arts. These institutes award degrees and diplomas for talented individuals and even offer Master’s degrees for the exceptional few.

Not getting into a public university may make you feel different among your friends, but there’s nothing wrong with going down on an alternative path. Don’t be too disheartened. With the many opportunities today, you still have options to pursue for your next phase in life.

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