Develop Yourself Before You Head to University

What can you do in the six months of free time between your final examination in polytechnic till the time university classes commence? Here are some tips to stay on top of the game during this short break.
Anne Grace Savitha
Writer, gradsingapore
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With your polytechnic examinations finishing in February, and if you do not have National Service, the soonest you’ll find yourself as an enrolled student in a university is only sometime around August. Don’t waste the half-year till then! Strengthen your skills through work or get your hands dirty by reading up about what you’re going into next. The same goes for those who are waiting to enter university after National Service – you’ll need to prepare yourself to be on par with your peers when your degree begins!

1. Research and read up on your new course

Whether or not you’re doing a degree that is similar to your diploma or in an entirely different field, you’ll need to know what you’re in for. Before you embark on your degree, it’s the best time to do some research on your course and the possible career paths you can take after that. Learn about the different routes of specialisation in your degree, find out about exchange and internship programmes offered by the university that you’re likely to enter, and more importantly, speak to someone already in that field, be it a student or a professional.

It’s good to be prepared mentally by identifying what are the areas you need more help in, such as more challenging modules, and which are the courses which you can already shine in. Think about the electives you can take to improve your score in advance, and, it’s also not too late to conceptualise your dream Final Year Project, or brainstorm for potential ideas. Compared to your peers who are going to university after junior college, you have the advantage and prior experience of self-driven learning, steering your progress with the coursework in polytechnic already.

2. Work in this window period to learn new skills

Companies are always hiring interns, contract staff and part-time help on a short-term basis. If you have a window of three to six months before university commences, use this chance to gain even more work experience in the field of your choice.

If you’re very conscientious, you’re more likely to go for an internship or work experience which is more related to what you wish to do in future. For instance, in a commercial or academic research internship, you can pick up tools like the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), useful for research modules in university. Such exposure also opens doors to more career possibilities in the future.

3. Become good at your area of interest

You can also indulge yourself in an unconventional role which you’ll only have the chance and capacity to take up while you’re in between courses – for instance, you may want to be a zookeeper or a florist, focusing on your hobbies and passion before diving into your chosen professional field.

How you spend your time in between your diploma and degree is crucial in determining the opportunities that you’re creating and grabbing for yourself! More often than not, you may get to continue the work that you’re doing in this window of free time even after you’ve enrolled into university. That will be a good source of part-time income, via tutoring, for instance. If you build a side hustle in this period of time, or get to know someone in the industry, you can well maintain the venture and connection, paving the way for your university internship or career after.

In short, don't let the few months go to waste, for you’re in the perfect environment to explore, developing your strengths and networks freely!