5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Entered Poly

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It has been more than a year since I graduated from poly. I feel that as time passes there is greater clarity of what happened in the past. Looking back, it was a turbulent time. I've changed so much since then. I became quieter and more thoughtful almost to the point of rumination. My confidence took a big dive due to my poor grades and in year 3 i started to have massive anxiety. Thankfully, relationships with my classmates were great which made it easy for me to find group members.

Despite all these upheavals, I do miss the fun times i had with my friends where we will chill at the canteen on Friday evening talking through the night, and the days where we stay back till late in the evening doing project work and getting chased out by the security guards.

Having been through thick and thin i thought i would share with you some things i wish i knew before i entered poly which could have made poly less difficult.

1. Cumulative GPA
The whole cumulative thing came as a surprise for me, perhaps not much of a surprise, because i was oblivious of how it works. It was only in year 3 when everyone began to fret about their grades, then i realized it was almost impossible to make those hail mary comebacks that i did in O levels with only one month of cramming. My grades pretty much boils down to the cumulative grades of those 3 years. Consistency is very important when it comes to cumulative GPA which is difficult for me because i lacked a lot of discipline at that time.

2. Grades Matter but Learning is More Important
I'm not going to bombard you with the usual cliche about grades don't matter. Truth is it does matter if you want to go to uni, which is the majority of our educational goal. However your entire poly experience does not boil down to your grades alone. You may have good grades but if you forget everything after your exams, you still end up learning nothing. That's what happened to me. If you asked me what are the psychological theories I've learnt, i can tell you that i don't remember anything except for some popular ones that appeared on Big Bang Theory.

3. Group Work
Many assignments in poly are group work. My diploma (Applied Drama and Psychology) was very heavy on group work. I had about 6 group assignments a sem. Group work is one of most detested part about poly. It turn friends into enemies. It forces you to choose your grades or your friends. It was politics in school even before we are legal to vote and despite that, we were already voting for which 'A' student to put into our group and which idiot to reject. 

It took me awhile to figure out how to deal with this madness. I feel that one of the biggest problems is grouping with friends. If it works for you then great, but more often then not it doesn't, at least for me. There are too many social landmines to avoid when you partner with your friends. I have to avoid criticizing my friend's ideas excessively. I have to avoid heated discussion for the fear of damaging our friendship.

The takeaway for me is to separate friendship from school assignments. It's better to group with classmates that have the same interest as you and works well with you. I know it sounds pretty ironic because, by nature, my friends should have the same interest and should work well together with me but it isn't always true. We are all unique individuals that are different but have intersecting interests. That's why it's important to find those that complements your work style and have intersecting interests when forming your group.

First year student getting dressed
4. Appearance
This may resonate with most people, especially the arts and business students. I feel that many of us go through a vanity phase in poly. You know it when you see the year 1 students dressing up and slowly degenerating into not caring about their outfits by final year. I think dressing appropriately for school is important but when you start worrying about your appearance excessively it becomes a problem. I certainly have experienced it before and it is extremely depressing to be chasing these imaginary vanity points. The best is to, at the start, ignore it and focus on enjoying poly rather than worry about this frivolous issue that won't matter when you leave poly.
5. Free Time
It is true that poly could be as busy as JC but only at certain periods of the year which leave you plenty of free time. I started to realize how much time i've wasted when i began to meet new friends who had done a lot of meaningful work outside of poly. They were chasing their dreams during their free time in school. One of them have a sunglasses company and he is the sole retailer of a well-known brand in U.S and also another friend started a theater company while studying. What i'm trying to say is that i could have make use of the free time to do something meaningful rather than wasting it on countless hours of FB stalking.

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I think overall what is is most important is that you enjoy your time in poly. Many of my seniors who are in university complained about how much they missed poly life. In poly you have your own classmates and there is more camaraderie. But in uni you are all alone, you pick your own lesson timings, you have to make new friends every time and it is more cutthroat when it comes to group work. If you suck at your work you are out.

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