While it’s true that friends you make in secondary school will stay with you forever, your three years in polytechnic will be some of the most fun you will have in your life — since this is when you’ll get a lot more freedom from both your parents and of course your class schedule; goodbye back-to-back classes.
But “with great power comes great responsibility”, and your poly years can be difficult to survive. Here are nine tips that we poly graduates have for the young freshies.
1. Always Bring A Jacket To School
Trust me on this, even if you want to act tough and be all “I don’t need no jacket”, sometimes the air-conditioning in lecture halls and tutorial classrooms gets too strong for even the best of us. The cold will cause you to lose concentration on anything other than the chattering of your teeth.
True story: My group mate forgot her jacket and we had a class in the TV studio in Temasek Polytechnic. She ended up curling up in the fetal position on the floor, trying to keep her body heat in.
2. Make Google Drive Your Best Friend
Here’s a life hack that you can use even in university and at work! Paying attention in lectures and meetings are really hard, especially when there are 100 people squeezed into one hall. By creating a google document with your group mates or friends, you can all take notes collectively so that you’ll be sure none of the important points are left out.
This is particularly effective if you’re the chao keng friend who likes to skip lectures to sleep in. I can’t count the number of times this trick has saved me, but please treat your helpful friends to a meal at the end of the module.
3. Do Everything By Email
Again, another trick you should employ. Whether you’re contacting a lecturer or organising your group meetings, make sure you do it through email so you’ll always have the email logs to cover your back if anything goes wrong.
From group mates who do nothing for the project, to getting written permission for an assignment extension, it’s always best to have it down in writing.
4. Join A CCA
Yes, it’s no longer compulsory, but join a CCA anyway. If the only friends you have are your course mates… then you’re missing out on getting to know the other people in your campus.
And since there’re so many CCAs in the different polytechnics, you can be sure that you’ll find one suited to your interests, or you could just set up an interest group by yourself if you have enough like-minded friends!
5. Bring Powerbank(s)
Sure, there are plenty of electrical sockets around the school, but when it’s lunch time and every single table and socket is taken and your phone is on the verge of dying, that’s when you feel the most overwhelming sense of panic.
But hey, it doesn’t have to happen if you plan ahead and bring a powerbank out with you for those days when you have a full day of classes! They are lifesavers, you’ll thank me later.
6. Surround Yourself With Good Group Mates
Birds of a feather flock together, and that’s particularly true when you’re trying to find people to work with on projects. I mean, there’s no need to go for the straight A’s students, but find people who are willing to pull their weight and contribute.
Deadweight group mates on projects mean more work for you and less time for other projects, which means it’s harder to keep your grades up.
7. Be Friendly To Your Lecturers
Who cares if you’re being called a teacher’s pet — lecturers are the biggest help you can get in your poly life, so make sure you stay on their good side.
I have friends who get invited to Chinese New Year lunches that their lecturers organise for ex students, and through it they get linked up to companies looking to hire, so start planning for your future!
8. Build Up Your Portfolio
Whether you decide to apply to university or head out into the working world, a beefy portfolio never hurts. Taking on an internship or other part time work related to your studies will give you practical experiences that will set you apart from the other fresh poly graduates.
9. Chug On Coffee
No explanation needed. Just as how our phone needs its powerbank to stay alive for the entire day in campus, coffee and caffeine works the same for us.
Three years will flyyyy by, so obviously heed these tips, but find your own way and have the best time possible!