Thu, Feb 05, 2009
The New Paper
Online appeal

IF ONLY all junior colleges could do it online, it would have saved her a return flight to Singapore.

Instead, the 16-year-old Indonesian girl flew here all the way from Jakarta, just to hand in a few appeal forms.

Sophia, who requested we not use her last name for fear of affecting her chances, was posted to Jurong Junior College, but it was not one of her top choices.

So she decided to cut short her annual vacation in Jakarta to return here to appeal to three other junior colleges (JCs) to take her in.

She had to do that because, unlike Nanyang and Tampines JCs, these institutions do not allow her to appeal online.

Sophia came back last Friday, the day the JC postings were released and the appeal process started.

Many students have been queueing at the JCs since, to submit their appeal forms.

They are all hoping to get a place in a JC of their choice.

This is the first year the Ministry of Education (MOE) has implemented a single intake of students to JCs and the Centralised Institute.

This leaves the students with a shorter time to decide on their choices and make their appeals.

Said Sophia: 'I already flew back to Singapore once after the O-level results, just to take part in the dance auditions at Anglo-Chinese JC, which would give me a better chance during the appeals, so it isn't a big deal flying back slightly earlier to appeal again.

'However, it would be so much easier if I could do everything online, since I'm applying to not one but three schools.'

At least two colleges have been able to do away with the queueing. Nanyang Junior College and Tampines Junior College, have created online portals through which applicants can send in their appeals.

And the response to the initiative has been positive.

'It would be more convenient for people who want to appeal,' said Daniel Tan, 16.

'Queueing annoys me a little, so I think having the online appeal system is better.'

Nanyang was the first JC which started using an online appeal systems in 2007.

Its principal, Mr Kwek Hiok Chuang, said he has 'seen much approval from both parents and students'.

He said: 'We tend to receive a large number of appeals as young people are more net savvy.

No certs needed

'With these online appeals, my staff can access them from home as well, and should they feel that the student is what we are looking for, they will be called back.'

Unlike in-person applications, no certificates are required by the school for online appeals.

Among the institutions that insist on students coming in person to appeal is Catholic Junior College.

And it has its reasons for doing so.

'We would like to assess the applicant based on a more holistic approach, so we would like them to come down personally and submit their relevant documents to us', said Mr Tan Jek Suan, its head of the department of student development.

'No applicants are overlooked, and regardless of points, we will review their submissions.'

The college also has teachers available for students and parents to consult about the school and the subject combinations offered.

Some colleges make the appeal forms available on their websites, but the students still have to go in person to hand in the relevant documents.

Saint Andrew's Junior College does that.

'Appeal forms are available online for the convenience of students,' said Ms Kalyani Kausikan, a spokesman for the JC.

'The college does accept appeal forms which are sent to our e-mail address, though in some instances, original documents may be required for verification purposes.

'Most students and their parents choose to submit the completed appeal form with these documents personally because they also want to take the opportunity to find out more about the college, and to enquire about the possible success of their appeal.'

Despite the convenience online services provide, some still feel that going in person would be better.

'I don't think having it online would necessarily be better,' student Gwen Wong, 16, said.

'Even when appealing at Anglo-Chinese JC using their computer system, I had difficulty because the instructions were not clear. At least doing it there, I could get immediate assistance.'

By Han Su-Ying and Stacey Chia, newsroom interns.

This article was first published in The New Paper on February 03, 2009.

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