Honest thoughts about RI(JC)

By throwawayaccount4553

I entered Raffles Institution (arts stream) via the joint admissions exercise with a L1R5 aggregate score of 3 points (including bonus points for CCA and higher mother tongue) and recalled how elated I was upon learning that I would be able to attend the best junior college in Singapore (subjective for some, then again commonly accepted by most). Little did I know literal hell awaited me. Fyi, I did achieve stellar 'A' Level results and subsequently qualified for a very competitive nus course; so as far as grades are concerned, it's all there really. Yet thinking about those two years spent at RI(JC) never failed to bring shudders down my spine.

Firstly, the invisible wall confronting new arrivals. Everyone I spoke to casually dismissed the perceivedly inevitable gulf between IP and incoming 'O' Level students, claiming it will dissipate after a few months of mutual socialization. Not in my case. To be fair, some of my secondary school classmates who also progressed to RI(JC) appeared to have integrated well enough and even started joining cliques. Meanwhile, me and a handful struggled to get past maintaining mere cordial relationships with my IP classmates. I remembered trying to initiate a conversation on several occasions; they reciprocated with terse politeness and civility, that's about it. My IP classmates never really saw me as one of them, rather I am always treated like a distant stranger (in case you are wondering, let it be known no outright bullying ever took place). Thank god though for my secondary school friends who stood by me during these trying times.

Secondly, the stress. I am positive both JC and polytechnic students alike will no doubt encounter stress in school , but the stress one is faced with in RI(JC) arises very differently. There is the family-induced stress where daddy and mummy urge you to aim for the sky simply because you are a Rafflesian. Next comes stress heaped upon by teachers. Fact: our workloads are designed to be near impossible to complete (I don't know if science students have it worse). Reading up on stuff way ahead of lectures, being bogged down by endless tutorials and essay assignments literally killed my social life. Holidays? Well examination seasons are typically scheduled right after them to prevent you from having any semblance of decent fun! Block tests were hopelessly insurmountable and literally all major assessments (except the prelims for some odd reason) were marked according to exceptionally strict guidelines. On the contrary, my friends attending other JCs by their accounts were somewhat blessed to have never experienced such madness. In addition, there is stress suffered owing to stereotype-driven societal expectations. Mention having gone to Raffles, and people will express (frankly) nauseating awe/reverence before opining you must hail from the 'elitist' camp. Seriously? Sure I have met a couple of genuinely elitist/snobbish batch mates who think they're super smarty pants, often going around enquiring about test scores of peers and taking utter delight in denigrating weaker ones, I shall however assert most do not behave so abhorrently. In any case, to avoid being severely misconstrued, I rarely discuss my educational background whilst in the company of others.

Thirdly, opportunities. Leadership positions are typically usurped by IP students, end of story (a few exceptions may happen occasionally but yep, suck it up). Perhaps the present situation has improved, despite so I am willing to bet IP folks still gobble up most prime roles.

Looking at friends who ended up elsewhere, it was VERY obvious that they were having a far better time. For a quick comparison, Rafflesians hardly post on social media platforms; you don't see them sharing Instagram stories, Facebook musings whatsoever.....nope not that I am aware of. Switch over to my ex-secondary school buddies already well settled into their respective JCs - attempting new CCAs, having a whale a of a time going on class outings, getting involved in BGRs blah blah blah - catch ma drift yet?

Here's an important piece of advice to those gunning for RI(JC): stay 'objective'. Yes I am not disputing that there are 'O' level students who have managed to blend in with the masses. These lucky ones tend to be very brainy, loaded (literally knew someone who would treat his JC classmates to movies/dinners in a serious bid to befriend them), good-looking (looks=popularity for some reason but of course, correlation isn't causation) or exceptionally extroverted. If your ultimate desire is to study at a local university, in all honesty a less "branded" junior college would suffice. On the other hand should you have your sights set on Ivy league institutions or the Oxbridge schools, indeed RI(JC) offers avenues aplenty to craft that respectable portfolio coveted by many an admissions panel. But hey you MUST BE mentally tough enough to endure much stress thrown your way as a student in a top flight JC; remind yourself it's adios amigos after two short albeit painful years.

My apologies for possibly having frightened you but what was being articulated above were honest and in no way exaggerated personal opinions. I implore fresh 'O' level graduates who are reading this to shed your impressionable mindsets (please do not be overly influenced by media/open house propaganda) and conduct proper in-depth research; speak to former/current Rafflesians if there is a need before taking the eventual leap. Wishing you best of luck, and Auspicium Melioris Aevi.​


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