Back in the early seventies, National Junior College (NJC) was a premier educational institution. It had several prominent alumni since its founding in 1969. It was the first JC to be set up in Singapore.
After my GCE “O” Level, I took a giant and bold leap into this college from my humble secondary school Gan Eng Seng School. There was just a handful of us coming in from Gan Eng Seng School. On the other hand, there were so many students from Catholic High, ACS. This was painfully obvious when I stepped into NJC. They knew each other and they were already in cliques. I felt so alone. To break into their cliques seemed impossible.
When you mentioned that you were from Gan Eng Seng, some of them cooled to your presence. So what did I do to ease my stay in NJC? I conversed in Mandarin with some of them even Chinese was not my forte. I made some friends, those who were willing to engage me and got into their confidence. Through these limited friends I broke through and got into their cliques. I remember a group was playing carom at one time. I sat down and showed my magic. From that game on, they were impressed and viewed me differently.
I remembered that I struggled with several subjects, like Applied Mathematics, Physics, Economics. I had no one to turn to for help. There was no sharing of notes or solutions among students outside of the cliques. The lecturers/tutors pitched their lesson deliveries at a much higher level than I could cope. After all NJC students came in with very good academic results. I was just about made it for its cut-off, so was considered not good enough in my mind. That was my inferiority complex coming to the fore again. I had no private tutors or friends who could help me. Approaching our tutors for assistance was never in my agenda because I was too shy. So, I studied the textbook, lecturer/tutorial notes and sometimes imagine I was on the right understanding. (I was wrong.) I was not adequately prepared for the GCE “A” Level examinations. It showed in my final transcript of my GCE “A”.
Two years of NJC were short when compared with secondary school education. It was just another but a small part of my educational journey. The camaraderie among friends in Gan Eng Seng School was so much stronger. I came among the best in Gan Eng Seng School. I was ranked 6 out of 283 in the standard at Secondary 4. But it was a different story in NJC. I was like a tiny fish in a very large pond. I was just glad I was not eaten up.