Name: Kenneth Gwee Khye Jie
Name of institution: Republic Polytechnic
Course of study: Diploma in Biomedical Sciences
Why did you choose to pursue this course?
Fresh out of O-Level, I was overwhelmed by multiple choices such as JCs and the different polytechnic courses. I was always interested in biomedical sciences, but I was deterred from pursuing such a course as I didn't have any background in biology back in my secondary school days. Following the advice of my parents, I enrolled in a JC.
When I didn't do well in the JC, I decided that I needed to take control of my life and pursue something that I am passionate in, and therefore, the Diploma in Biomedical Sciences was the obvious choice for me.
I had personal reasons for pursuing the diploma as well. I lost quite a few family members to cancer, and I was curious to learn more about it since young.
How did you hear about Republic Polytechnic and its courses?
After JC, I went online and researched about various possible routes and courses for me. I came across Republic Poly's website and found the webpage on the Diploma in Biomedical Sciences. I also went down to the Open House to find out more about the course.
What is the best thing about studying at Republic Polytechnic?
I would say the Problem-Based Learning approach (PBL) is the best thing about studying in RP. Using the PBL approach, we work in teams of five to solve a problem. It makes learning much more realistic as we deal with real-life problems. The learning is also more dynamic, as we have to come up with our own research to address the problems. Answers are not provided to us, and we learn how to learn. We also have more opportunities to learn more about each other.
Another advantage of PBL is that students are graded according to their ability and the improvements they have made at the end of the day. For example, as I am stronger in my sciences, my facilitator took into consideration the way I led my team, leadership skills and communication skills into my grading. This allowed me to grow as an individual as I am presented with a new challenge every day. I grew the most during my years with RP.
Answers are not provided to us, and we learn how to learn.
What has been the most interesting aspect of your learning journey?
I was being challenged every day as I am graded daily not just based on the content that I have to present, but also my leadership skills. During my final five weeks in Year 1, my facilitator assembled the five best-performing students (including me) in class and we were presented with a competition to determine the best team and best leader. We were allowed to form our own teams.
Instead of forming a team with the best possible combination of team members, I did not do so. I formed a team where everybody had their own individual strengths but were struggling to do well in class. We eventually went on to get good grades through pure inspirational team work, and the teammates showed drastic improvements in their knowledge of the subject. I also went on to win the best leader award in class. It was good to see all of us grow together in the team, and beat other teams that were very strong.
What advice do you have for students who wish to pursue a similar course?
Know what kind of learner you are. It's difficult to expect 16-year-old students to know what they want to do in life or pursue in their career. But it's relatively easier to know how you learn best since by then you have about 10+ years of learning experience.
This will help you to decide if you are suitable for polytechnic courses or JC. If your choice is studying in a polytechnic, you should take note which are some of the courses that you are interested in and try to find out more about them by going to the open houses or by visiting their websites. Ask yourself if you see yourself working in that field and contributing to society, the way you want it. I always like this quote by Winston Churchill: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It's the thought and courage to continue that counts.”
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