Topic 1: Education Pathway
Why did you choose to study at Ngee Ann Polytechnic?
I wanted to try a design course, so I put all the design courses (in my application). The course I’m in was my second or third choice. My first choice was Architecture at Singapore Polytechnic, but I didn’t get in.
Why did you decide to extend your polytechnic programme to 5 years?
I was in my first year of poly sometime in September 2019, and I had the World Youth Championships coming up. I wanted to train for it, but it clashed with my Common Test week. So I thought, “There has got to be a better way to handle everything.” I talked to my mum, and then we contacted the school and made the arrangements. They were pretty accommodating and they understood (my situation).
I initially thought to take a gap year after O Levels to just train, but because I have to do National Service, I can’t really do that. So I decided to go to poly to buy myself an extra year and see how things go. Only after talking to the school did we realise that there is an option to take longer than 3 years, so I decided to take that, and do National Service after the 5 years.
I chose to extend my poly programme because I want to pursue sports. I want to be a professional athlete. In Singapore, it’s a hard thing to do, but it’s something I want to do. I can’t imagine myself doing any other thing other than competing.
What was the application process for the extended programme?
They basically asked what my schedule is like to see how hectic it is, and whether I have a plan. So I gave them my Yearly Planning Instrument (YPI), which includes my calendar of competitions and training phases.
Were your parents supportive of your decision to do an extended polytechnic programme?
Yeah, my parents were athletes themselves. My dad was a pole vaulter and my mum was a long jumper – both of them were in athletics. So they kind of understood what it’s like to chase your dreams, so they’re very supportive.
What would you tell someone who is considering the polytechnic route?
If there’s a valid reason behind it, then sure. If you know what you want to study already, then I’d say just go for it. You can get a lot more experience if you go to poly than JC because you’re already in that field of study.
If you go to JC, then you’ll have another 2 years of general education, where you study Maths, Science, History, and stuff like that. But for poly, you have stuff like internships, where you get to work in the industry, and you get a feel of it. And the best part is if you try it and you don’t like it, at least now you know, and you can just hop over to something else in university.
Would you recommend the extended programme to other student-athletes?
I’d say it’s an option, but 3 years to 5 years is a lot more time, so you should think about it seriously. It’s something that you have to put thought into. You can’t just be like, “Oh, I want more time to chill and relax, I will take 2 more years!” I feel like the extra time that you get have to be put into something, and I’m pretty sure the school won’t allow you to extend your programme if you don’t have a proper reason.
Because I know that I want to be a professional athlete, I know that I have to give my 10,000 hours to get to where I want to be. If taking 2 more years is something I have to do, then I will do it. And of course, I’m spending the time to train and compete, which allows me to go in the right direction.
Do you have friends who are fellow climbers in your batch? With your hectic schedule, how do you manage to make friends?
Not really. There are climbers in NP, but because of my hectic schedule, I don’t really get to meet them. I have national training, and then my NYSI sessions, and I also have my own Fit Bloc training. So with all of that, there’s just very little time.
For school friends, I feel that there is still time to interact and connect because, during classes or project meetings, I still interact with them. But for other climbers, sometimes our paths just don’t cross, so it’s harder to meet up.