Mr Joshua Teo was rejected when he applied to study medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS) two years ago.
But the Temasek Polytechnic (TP) graduate tried again for a place this year and, to his surprise, he was accepted. The 22-year-old, who studied biomedical informatics and engineering, is the first from his polytechnic to get into the university's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
He is also among a growing pool of top polytechnic graduates who have in recent years secured spots in law and medicine. This comes as the polytechnics are attracting brighter students with single-digit O-level scores. About 40 per cent of those who chose polytechnics qualified for junior college (JC) last year.
Back in 2003, Mr Lavanesan Swaminathan, from TP, made history by being the first polytechnic graduate to be offered a place to read law at NUS. In 2007, two students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic - Mr Soong Jun Wei and Mr Ron Ng - became the first polytechnic graduates to be accepted by NUS' medical school.
A handful of polytechnic students have since been given places each year in both degree courses, which typically admit straight-A JC students.
But this year alone, NUS has already accepted nearly 10 for medicine, and at least six for law. Of course, they are still a tiny minority compared with their JC peers in both programmes.
The medicine and law programmes at NUS admit 300 and over 200 students respectively a year.
Singapore's newest medical school at Nanyang Technological University accepted its first polytechnic graduate Russell Chuah, 21, from Singapore Polytechnic (SP), last year.
TP, which runs a law and management course, has seen 19 students accepted by NUS' law faculty since 2003. A student entered Singapore Management University's law school last year.
And every year, 10 to 20 of TP's graduates study law overseas. Course manager Looi Kwok Peng said many of its students enter university courses in business, and arts and social sciences, or become teachers. "But slightly more of them are getting into law locally now. Universities are trying to expand their pool of students," he noted.