The 4 most essential considerations when choosing your next school

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So it’s time for you to make that critical decision that will determine the next few years of your life and probably shape the rest of your life too. It’s time to graduate and move on to the next level of education. As you ponder your various options of schools, here is a list researched and compiled based on past experiences and mistakes learnt through the years by many students.

Affinity to types of students the school usually attracts

This is probably one of the biggest causes of regret among many students we spoke to. They choose a school that is a good fit for their academic standards but they fail to consider the types of people that will eventually become your closest friends. Like it or not, most schools attract certain ‘types’ of students. Types can range from english or mandarin-speaking students, elitist or humble, rich or poor, and the list goes on. You should definitely take the time to find out the type of people that you will be hanging around with a lot over the next few years. Do you think you have an affinity to them? Will you generally share the same wavelength, ambitions, interests?

I personally regretted going to a school I chose because of this very reason. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not a matter of good or bad, but about personal fit. You probably know that there are certain types of people that you don’t generally enjoy hanging around as others. Imagine if you were surrounded with classmates who are all ardent korean drama fans and daily conversations revolved around which actor fell in love with another. While you are more of a US cable series person. Wouldn’t that be an awkward situation? Of course one can always adapt and change, and if you are prepared to give it a shot, then by all means, do so. But you should at least go into a school with your eyes open. When you are surrounded by people who do not share your same interests, passion and outlook in life, it can be really difficult to to establish long-lasting and meaningful friendships there.

Academic standards

This needs to be considered very carefully and in a balanced way. Many students tend to think that they should go to a school that is roughly aligned to their own academic levels. As a result, they rule out top schools (in terms of academics) because they feel they are not smart enough to handle the work there. While it is important to gauge your ability to handle the academic demands of the school you are choosing, but being in a highly competitive and academically rigourous school has many benefits as well. The top most will be the drive to excel along with the rest of your friends. And more than that, you will be exposed to people who are smarter than you and this necessarily creates the best environment to grow academically and expand your horizons.

Certainly the downside is the stress that you might feel having to keep up with all the ‘smarter’ kids in the school. But if you think you can manage the stress and use it as a driving force to help you improve, then you should definitely consider going to a school that has more smarter kids. I always believe that it is much better to be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. You never know how far you can be stretched if you are always too afraid to venture into the big pond. Having said that, a word of caution is necessary. If you seriously think you cannot handle the pressure and the probability of not faring as well as your friends, then go with a school that is more on par to your academic levels. There is no point forcing yourself to a place that is just going to make you depressed and stressed over the next few years.

Traveling time required

While it may seem obvious, but it is still necessary to highlight that this should be one of the considerations. It may not necessarily be the most important priority, but ignore this at your own risk. You will probably be traveling to school every single day except maybe the weekends, and when you add up all the time you spend on the MRT and the bus, it can be pretty hefty. And more than just time wasted, don’t forget that traveling also saps energy. If you end up in a school that takes more than an hour to get to everyday, you will probably be exhausted when you reach home at the end of the day. You may even be tired by the time you get to school in the morning. Can the precious time and energy be channeled to more productive use? So weigh the pros and cons of finding a closer school and make sure you are aware of the trade-off.

CCA strengths and weaknesses

This is only important if there are specific CCA that you are particularly interested in or want to pursue seriously. It will be a major dampener if you enter a school that does not have a very good programme in that area and you might want to consider that. Of course if you are very open to trying out new things, then it should not matter as much since you can probably find something new to try in the school.

 

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