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Singapore High School Life
High school is certainly an exciting time for many as it signifies leaving the adolescent stage behind and gradually transitioning into adulthood. This brings about a new-found freedom, a growing sense of maturity and new experiences. However, some of these experiences can be daunting especially on the academic front. And it is with this mix of anticipation and apprehension that every Singapore student takes on being a young adult.
The main cause for apprehension for any student would definitely the big leap in terms of expectations between secondary school and high school. Students are expected take on a minimum of six subjects in great detail and master it in 18 months or less which is a far cry from the leisurely four years in secondary school. Additionally, the depth of instruction in high school requires students to re-learn certain facts acquired in secondary school; knowledge that they have learnt for the past four to five years. To top it off, the two years of high school means that students have to dig their heels in and keep up with the system from the moment they enter as they do not have much time to adjust.
In order to cater to the country’s changing needs, the high school education in Singapore requires students to take subjects at Higher 1 or Higher 2 level in humanities (History, Economics, Geography, Literature, Theatre Studies) or sciences (Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology) based on their interests, aptitude, and future ambitions. Furthermore, out of all the subjects, students are required to take one that is of a contrasting discipline in the hopes of grooming them to be all-rounded academically. As such, it is common for students to go for tuition in subjects such as H2 Mathematics and H2 Physics which is an additional commitment aside from their heavy workloads.
Aside from academic requirements, the competitive spirit of the local students has become an added burden unto itself. This is evident in the increasingly stricter entry requirements into the main local universities such as National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU). The competition is taken up by a notch with the influx of foreign scholars who, attracted by Singapore’s reputation as an education hub, join local schools even at the high school level. Having met the local entry requirements, these students are certainly worth their salt as they too, interestingly enough, have immersed themselves into the local competitive culture and do what they can to secure a place in university by going for mathematics and physics tuition.
In conjunction with all the difficulties mentioned earlier, Singapore’s decision to invest in a knowledge based economy translates to a shrinking arena for manual labour and other forms of craftsmanship. By extension, the track that this rat race is held has one lane with very few alternatives for vocational training. This results in a “make-or-break” situation which is the most daunting consequence of all. To make matters worse, going for mathematics and physics tuition in order to get sterling results is no longer the sole factor for consideration. This is due to the fact that universities and future employers are now looking into other aspects of one’s portfolio such as co-curricular activities, leadership and community work experience. While engaging in other activities is meaningful as it helps one to have fun, meet new people and bond with them, the very fact that good achievements in that area is an entry requirement has made the respite from a heavy workload less enjoyable in a certain sense.
While high school life is undeniably daunting, it is important to clarify that the local schools do make an effort to counter-balance the academic stress with various school activities such as carnivals and overseas trips. With all that is said and done, high school life in Singapore is indeed exciting and daunting. It is in this period that one is on the thresholds of maturity and the rigour of academic requirements is the first test. And those who overcome it will be set on the road to success.
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