Taking the N-levels does not mean you’re falling behind. Second-year Nanyang Polytechnic student Pavindhiran Kannan shares how he got ahead through the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP).
Pavindhiran Kannan, 19, is currently a second-year Aeronautical & Aerospace Technology student from the School of Engineering in Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). The teen, who has made the Director’s List every semester since starting his course, in addition to clinching medals at track meets, shares how he pulled ahead after his N-levels.
How did you decide on a pathway after your N-levels examinations?
Up until my N-levels, I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. At first, I thought I wanted to go to Secondary 5, then move on to JC or poly from there.
At the beginning of Secondary 4, my Design & Technology teacher in Montfort Secondary, Mr Peter Ho, discussed with the class about our options, post-secondary school, and told us that other than going to Secondary 5, then poly, another option was to go by the PFP route.
After that, I started researching PFP. But even then, I wasn’t sure if I would qualify for it. In fact, I had already started studying for Secondary 5 before I received my N-levels results.
Then when I saw my results, I couldn’t believe it — I had gotten a single-digit score and was eligible to apply for PFP!
You mentioned that you had considered JC. What made you change your mind?
My parents had wanted me to go to a JC, which meant going to Secondary 5 and taking the O-levels. But once I had the PFP option, my teachers told me to seriously consider applying for it. I got offered a place in NYP’s PFP and my parents recognised that this was a choice I was making for myself and supported me.
Also, my aim is to be an aircraft engineer. Knowing that I didn’t take A Math in secondary school, even if I went to a JC, I would have only qualified for the Arts Stream. Eventually I want to take aeronautical engineering or mechanical engineering in university, so I really wanted to go to poly instead.
What kind of impact did the PFP have on you?
I spent my PFP year learning how to handle both Track and Field training and my studies. The PFP year’s results are not carried over to Year 1. I focused on finding my balance between both studies and Track.
Track was something I always wanted to try but hadn’t because that option wasn’t available in secondary school. Once I came to NYP, I thought, why not? The coach thought I had potential and asked me to join. I’m starting to see results now and I’m not going to quit anytime soon!
(Pavin has gone on an overseas competition in 2017, gotten a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the 2018 Poly-ITE games, a silver in the 4x100m relay at the 2018 Singapore Athletics inter-club games, and a bronze in the individual 100m for the 2019 Poly-ITE games.)
After PFP year, in Year 1, I actually felt like I was a step ahead of my peers. Some of my peers were caught off-guard because it was their first taste of poly life. Secondary school and poly is very different. In poly, we have to do consistently well because our GPA is cumulative. But in secondary school, it’s just the final exams. Because I’d already been through one year of poly life and knew what to expect, I was used to the pace of studying, and when and what to study for exams.
(Photo credit: Lim Jun Rong Terence)
Looking back, how do you feel about your choice?
So far I do not regret coming to NYP. I love it because of the people, and my CCA is one of the things that keep me going.
Initially, I was concerned about not having an O-levels certificate if I took the PFP route. PFP was also relatively new, so I was not sure if it was recognised by universities and employers. But I started seeing reports that it is recognised, so I wasn’t worried anymore.
What would you say to an N-levels junior?
Don’t rush into making any choices. You should know your options before deciding. Talk to your parents, teachers, and peers. Check out the open houses so you know whether the school suits you or not.
I would strongly recommend PFP if you have that option and want to go to a poly. You get to secure a spot in poly (if you clear your PFP modules), and to me, it’s getting a head start.