Junior Colleges (JC) in Singapore are well-known for having sensational events throughout the year. From orientation programmes when you first step into the new school, to match support and performances, and celebrating different festivities throughout the year.
While it may seem like all fun and games, those who have graduated from JC often refer to it as one of the most grueling two years of their lives. Not only are you trying to make new friends and familiarise yourself with the new environment, but you are also cramming for the GCE A-Level examinations that you would have to take in less than a years’ time. With little time to spare, many also spend their time in JC preparing for their next step — university — by preparing portfolios with leadership positions, community service projects, internships, as well as actively participating in Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs). Stressful right?
So how has the JC experience changed in the year of COVID?
Sadly, the JC year has been just as intense. With the disruptions brought about by COVID-19, the majority of these large-scaled events were cancelled and it seemed like the ‘fun’ aspect of JC life had been lost. With more free time because of the lack of possible social events and CCAs being scaled back, there has been a growing emphasis on academics this year.
Within a few months, everyone was forced to adapt to Home-Based Learning (HBL) as the nation underwent lock down, and many struggled to keep up with the fast-paced lessons at home, especially JC1 students who were not yet used to the rigour of JC. Under lockdown for a good portion of the schooling year, all the lectures and tutorials were shifted online, and students had to have a lot of self-discipline during schooling periods.
Finding new and meaningful ways to interact with peers
With the sudden implementation of a nationwide lockdown, one of the biggest challenges was communication with others. Most JC1s were in school for just under 4 months — this left them with little time to get to know their peers, be it within their classes or their CCAs. Many students had to find new and meaningful ways to interact with their peers, to make new friends and maintain older friendships. This led to the popularization of many platforms such as Skype and Zoom, as well as games such as Scribble.io, Among Us and many more.
While JC life may not be the same way for a long while, the ability of students to adapt to the ever-changing environment in the face of COVID-19 is extremely commendable — from the Council members and Orientation Group Leaders (OGLs) who had to keep pace with the evolving safety measures, to your average students who found new and innovative ways to reach out to those who were struggling, in their academics or in their personal lives.
Becoming more independent and resourceful
Although this may not have been the JC experience that students expected, it definitely taught many students to become more independent, resourceful and flexible, contributing to their individual growths in their own unique ways — whether it is through a new hobby that they picked up over Circuit Breaker, or the four friends they could interact with within the safety measures, or even the methods that they found to cope with in this stressful year.