Many 16-year-old students in Singapore find themselves asking the same question: "What am I going to do after secondary school?"
As others struggled to find the answer, Ian Tan Jun Yong had already made a decision.
"I see myself as someone who is compassionate and someone who genuinely enjoys helping people around me. With that, I have always wanted to study something that revolved around care and hospitality."
Tan's interest was fueled even further when his grandfather was hospitalised.
"When I went to visit him with my family, I was really impressed and inspired by the hospitality shown by the hospital staff," the now 19-year-old told Mothership .
This affirmed his passion and interest in healthcare.
As he learnt more about the healthcare industry, Tan found himself more inclined towards community care.
"I decided that I wanted to focus more on helping and caring for people who were suffering so much that they are not even able to leave their homes to seek medical care," Tan said.
With a clearer idea of where he wanted to go, Tan began searching for the right polytechnic course.
He came across the Diploma in Health Services Management in a Republic Polytechnic (RP) course brochure and found that the course covers different aspects of healthcare, including community care.
One of its modules also teaches students how to care for home-bound patients, which matched Tan's interest.
So it didn't take long for him to decide that this was the perfect course for him.
Getting into the course wasn't as straightforward as he wanted it to be
Unfortunately, there was a major obstacle stopping him from achieving his goal.
Tan was consistently getting ELR2B2 scores of 29 and above in his school exams prior to the actual O-Level exams.
These consistent high scores meant that he would not be able to qualify for any polytechnic course, let alone the course of his choice.
This took a toll on Tan's confidence and motivation. He didn't think he would be able to do well enough to secure a place in the course he wanted.
Despite these setbacks, Tan never gave up on his dream.
Applying for EAE
As luck would have it, Tan did some research and found out about the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) .
The EAE allows students to secure a spot in their desired course before sitting for the O-Level exams.
It is meant for students who demonstrate a strong aptitude and interest in a course.
It is also meant for students who have non-academic talents and achievements in areas such as sports, arts, community, service, or leadership.
Fuelled by his passion, Tan worked on his EAE write-ups and portfolio for months.
He wrote about his inspiration to help others and how he saw himself pursuing a successful career in the healthcare line in his future.
He also included testimonials from his form teacher and CCA teacher.
Tan completed his write-ups and portfolio at least two weeks before the deadline.
He then used his spare time to proofread his writings. He also got a few teachers to read through and provide their feedback.
As for the EAE interview, Tan began his preparations about a week in advance.
He thought of some questions the interviewer was likely to ask, and practised his responses on his own.
He even asked some of his friends and family members to do a mock interview with him.
With all the preparations he had done, Tan told Mothership that he didn't feel nervous when he went for the actual interview.
"I would say that my interview went rather smoothly," he said.
And so did his entire EAE journey.
Tan eventually received a conditional offer after going through the application process.
Still had to do well for O-Levels
Despite popular belief, getting accepted via the EAE does not completely guarantee the student a spot in the course.
Students must meet the course’s grade requirements and not accumulate more than 26 points for their ELR2B2 in their O-Level exams.
Students who fail to meet these grade requirements will have their spot in the course revoked.
With this, Tan disciplined himself by spending hours writing notes and revising past papers.
He did his best for his O-Levels and managed to meet the requirements of his desired course.
Life in RP
To Tan, entering RP was a "complete life changer" and "one of the best academic years" he's had so far.
He explained: "There were definitely times where I struggled heavily with some of the modules, but the lecturers in my course were always friendly, approachable, and ready to help."
And indeed, his academic performance improved drastically.
The third-year student had been inducted into the Director's Roll of Honour (top 10 per cent in his cohort) for three semesters.
He has also received two academic awards from the Ministry of Education— the Certificate of Academic Achievement 2020 and the Edusave Certificate of Academic Achievement 2021.
Being in RP also allowed Tan to gain meaningful experiences and friendships.
He was appointed as one of the Executive Committee members of RP's 18th Student Council, a feat that not many can achieve.
Tan added that through RP, he had met friends who have "changed [him] in many ways".
"Thanks to some of the close friends I have met, I now think much more maturely, present myself more confidently, and even dress more like my age, as compared to the person I was three years ago."
Tan now plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in Allied Healthcare (Occupational Therapy) in New Zealand.
With the passion and determination he has shown since he was 16, combined with the newly-found confidence and skills he's learnt in RP, it is no doubt that Tan would achieve what he sets his mind on.
On May 9, 2022, Tan graduated from RP with a gold medal and a Diploma with Merit.
Apply for the Polytechnic EAE and receive a conditional offer for your dream course before sitting for your O-Levels.
Attend RP EAE Webinar at 7pm on May 20 to find out how you can:
- hear the latest EAE information by the Registrar,
- make a successful application, and
- gain useful resources for interview and portfolio preparation.
Register today here: https://bit.ly/3Nntt3d
All images courtesy of Ian Tan Jun Yong.
This article is sponsored by Republic Polytechnic.
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