When I didn’t make it to polytechnic

Heather Chiam // June 8, 2020, 10:08 am


I was in my final year at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) when I got the news that I had been accepted to polytechnic through the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE).

EAE is a programme through which final year students in ITE and secondary schools can apply to polytechnics. It enables you to secure a position early based on your current grades.

However, the application will be revoked if your final results do not meet the requirement.

So while I was in my final year at ITE, I managed to get into Visual Communication in Nanyang Polytechnic and I was overjoyed. All my hard work over the past three years of taking the design route in ITE felt worth it.

I shared the good news with all my church friends and they celebrated with me. 

But soon after that came my final results. My GPA had dropped because of one module that I was weak at.

Subsequently, my EAE application was revoked due to my lowered GPA. 

I was crushed. Not knowing what to do, I went down to see a Member of Parliament (MP) to ask for his help. I even appealed to different schools but I got rejected.

I won’t lie. It didn’t feel good, and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel during that season of my life. In the end, I had to take an unexpected gap year.

The first few months were very hard because my friends were already adjusting to their new schools. Yet, there I was feeling lost and directionless.

And then came Chinese New Year, when my relatives asked about my school. I felt ashamed because I didn’t know how to answer them.

Bullied then homeschooled: How God made a way for me to enter polytechnic

I began to look for part-time jobs in order to fill up my time.

Initially, I didn’t know what kind of jobs to go for so I went for any that I could find. But those didn’t last long as I felt that my passion wasn’t there. 

Subsequently, I had the chance to learn what it was like to be a junior designer in a printing company. I secured a six-month full-time position but it was a tough ride.

I had to learn how to honour God when I had to work overtime, especially when I had to join cell groups late. God showed me how the working world worked and how I should communicate with my fellow colleagues. It gave me clarity over whether design was to be my career path as well.

God would also use my job experiences for the Kingdom – I had the privilege of designing publicity materials for my church’s youth camp.

Everything fell nicely into place, and I saw that I can fully trust Him when it comes to my future.

After all, if God was faithful in my little part-time jobs, what more my future and life? 

My future is in good hands

During this period, I decided to apply for design courses in polytechnics again, but I was once again rejected. This time round, however, I didn’t feel anxious as I knew that God has the best plan for me. 

I began considering my backup options and felt peace when I applied to study Object and Jewellery in Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). And I eventually got in!

I am super happy and excited over what is to come and how will God use me in NAFA when school begins in August.

The gap year gave me exposure and helped me to discover my interests in the realm of design. I had the chance to work with a clay jewellery company before the COVID-19 outbreak as well as take on an administrative job with a jewellery company too.

I’ve always liked jewellery but never considered it as a career path. Exposure and experience helped to change that, and when I saw that NAFA offered a course in jewellery, I didn’t look back! 

If you are in a similar situation as I was, my encouragement to you is that God is always faithful. Just because you can’t fully see His plan now doesn’t mean He’s not working.

Love what you do, pray for purpose in whatever you put your hand to and allow God to lead you.


  1. What was the biggest disappointment you faced as a student?
  2. How did you cope?
  3. Looking back, how have you seen God’s hand guiding you on your path?