Making use of a poly open house (Part 2)

So in Part 1, we talked about the importance of finding out early. In this part, we’ll talk about what you should know about polytechnics so that you can ask better questions to dig out more info at the open houses.

Yup. You have to stand on your own two feet! Credits:

1) You’re expected to be independent in polytechnic.

Yup. No more nagging and teachers chasing after you. Don’t know something? You have to find out or ask your lecturers. If you forget to submit your work, don’t expect a reminder from your lecturer. You’ll just lose marks from your overall grade.

So ask at open houses…

  • What are the lecturers like?(Helpful? Passionate? Couldn’t care?)
  • What is the learning culture in the course/poly? (Are the classmates helpful and close? Or selfish and competitive?)
  • What are some of the ways the seniors cope with the course?

All the small pieces of modules make up your course! Credits:

2) Your course is made up of modules

In secondary school, you take a subject for two to four years. In polytechnic courses, you take different modules every semester.


A module is like a subject compressed into a semester. In one module, you learn in great detail one aspect of your course. For example, one of my ex-students took the Nautical Studies Course at Singapore Polytechnic. For one semester, he learnt how to calculate the position of a ship in one module. And for another semester, he took another module on ship firefighting. All these are meant to prepare him to be a member of a ship.

At the end of it. you’ll get an overall grade for each module, which will count to your overall score (more on that next time). Each module has its own mix of assessment to count to the module’s grade. So some have more tests, others have more projects etc. And of course, you’ll do more than one module in one semester.

3) Two polytechnics may offer similar-sounding courses, but can have very different focus

Because of the modular system, two polytechnics may offer courses that have similar names but have a different mix of modules as they emphasise on different things. So a course which you like in one polytechnic may not be the same in another polytechnic.

Take Aerospace for example: Do a side by side comparsion of the modules in the following courses with “Aerospace” in their name and you can see that the modules can be quite different:

Before you go for open houses…

Ask the course seniors at open houses…

  • What are some of the most interesting modules in the course?
  • What are some of the toughest modules in the course?
  • What are your favourite modules in the course?D

Ask a course coordinator/lecturer…

  • Why is the course structured in this manner?
    (Why are some modules compulsory? Why some modules come first etc.)
    This will give you insights what the poly sees as more important for the industry. Different polys might have different emphasis for the same course. It is also a good chance for you to hear what they think about the industry to help you make a better choice.

Next Tip: In part 3, we will talk about polytechnic culture and CCAs in polytechnics!

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