SGPsychStud's take on education

This is a guest article as published at Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts:

Preparation for your future career should start at Secondary 2

Let's start with a story:  Assume your grades are good enough to get into Junior College (JC) and University, which you did a degree, e.g. in medicine, law, or engineering.  You then work a couple of years, now in mid twenties or probably almost 30 years old.  One day, you wake up and start to question yourself on "Why am I trying to pull yourself out of bed and struggling to get to work everyday?"  "Do I really like what I am doing everyday?"  Then you start to notice that this is not really what you want in your life.
So have you wasted all your youth studying for something you did not want?  Some of you may disagree, rebutting with at least you have a job and money to spend.  Is getting all that money and job that important, or becoming the best person you can be of more importance?

 However, the two questions I pose to you are: "Which subject area do you want to study?  and "Why do you want to study that?"  Common answers would be like medicine, law, engineering, accounting, etc., but often the reasons are similar, mostly revolving around money and/or ego-feeding self-esteems.  Very few people will tell me that they are studying (or pursuing) that degree/diploma for their interests or passions.  Despite that, I have seen really seen a classmate of mine who went to do a diploma in architecture, despite having results enough to go to JC, followed by doing a degree in architecture.

Here's my take:  I feel that preparation (or the thought of preparation) for your future career should start as early as at the age of 14 in secondary school, before you are set off to decide the subjects you take that might change your future in Secondary 3.  With this in mind, you are not only deciding the subjects you are going to study, as well as your career and your future life.  Make sure you give it a serious thought about your  career, and be committed to it.

It's fine if you are not prepared at Secondary 2.  Most of us are not too.  According to Erikson, adolescence is a stage of transition from childhood to adulthood, and every individual who goes through this phase are said to experience a conflict between identity and role confusion, seeking their answers of "Who am I and What can I be?"  In your search of your own self identity and often reflecting on your past and present, it is normal that you have not considered your own future.

With the education system in Singapore, we are forced (or guided) to make a decision towards our choices of the subjects we take in Secondary 3 and 4, with our results at the end of Secondary 2.  My advice often to young students is to take these 2 years very seriously to think about what they want for their future.  Let these decisions of what you want to do with your life and studies be your motivator, as well as your direction or goals for you to work towards.
If you are still not sure at the end of Secondary 4, it might be better to go with the JC route; this gives you another 2 years to think about what you want to do.  If you have already considered it well, the polytechnic route might be good, as it gives you the chance to try out the area.  No matter at which stage of education, always do make sure that you study well and hard to enable yourself the best chances to get into the courses you desire.

However, it is of utmost importance that you already know what you want to do in your life by the time you enrol for University; otherwise, you will be in deep trouble, as shown with the example at the beginning of this article.

Stage 8: Reflection of a Masters student almost at the end..

This has been a long journey for me.  It has taken me more than 4 years to come to this point, even though my Masters program is only 2 years and things should be finished within 2 years.  I did my Masters program in Australia - finished the coursework there within the first 2 years; my placements (or industrial attachments) was delayed hence that took another half year more, and due to visa issues I had to leave Australia to finish up my thesis in Singapore, which took me 2 years to finish this piece of work.

I always joked with people that it is like "going through the classes, but not submitting the assignment".  However, this agony and torment that comes with the uncompleted thesis is often unbearable, such that I will distract myself through other means just to avoid facing the thesis.  This is one of the reasons why it has been dragging for so long.  Another reason came from a realistic side of Singapore: I had to work.  As a result of monetary requirements living in this developed country, having to work is inevitable.  But this slowed my progress further.  Till the point where I got real frustrated with myself, I decided to push on and just finish the thesis once and for all, to get my Masters which will hopefully then allow me to get some better jobs to becoming a  psychologist.  

Now, at this point where I am really touching up and "final" editing my thesis for submission, this is really a feeling of relief, and a huge load of my shoulders.  It has really been a journey of ups and downs, frustration and happiness, and I can't wait for the day I go for graduation, going up to the stage to receive my certificate.  That is my main pushing thought for now.

An advice for those considering to do your Masters program, do make sure to always start your thesis as early as possible.  You never know how long it will take.  I should have listened to this word of advice from my seniors when they visited my class...      


SGPsychStud: Diploma or A levels? A post for the secondary schoolers

I just gave a psychology talk in a secondary school recently, and noticed that there are many students in the secondary level who are interested in psychology.  Hence this post is directed more to those in the secondary level.

A lot of people are interested in psychology in Singapore, and this is quite evident from the number of people applying for entry into psychological programs in the polytechnics, universities, and private institutions in Singapore.  As compared to more than 10 years ago, there has a surge of students who are interested in psychology these recent years.  Many reasons may have caused this to happen, such as people becoming more insightful at a younger age, or less interested in normal programs like engineering, science or business,  or other reasons.  However, as this may be a personal reason and differs from person to person, I should not delve into it further.

Psychology is not a subject or area of study that is available in the secondary level in Singapore, hence your only first contact with psychology would most probably be really during the diploma or universities programs that you undertake.
The question here would be when should you come into psychology?  Should you do a psychology diploma directly or should you do your A levels and try to get into the local university psychology program?

My recommendations are:
If you are interested and quite certain (> 80% sure) that this field is something you are interested in, then a diploma might be a good choice to try it out.  Obviously your final ideal choice would not be too far off such that even if you do not choose psychology but something else in university, it would still be a similar or related area.
However for those who are unsure of what you want to do, probably doing the 2 years in Junior College and "A" levels would be a good way for you to buy some time to reconsider what you want to do in your career.  Ultimately this choice you are going to make will affect your careers and your life in the next few years (tertiary schooling and working lives).

This will be written with the assumption that students are able to enter the programs with their current results.  Obviously we know that results can pose an issue for entering the programs; "however there is always a way." (My quote to the students during the psychology talk)

For more information on degrees, please view this post; and here it is for the diplomas.
If you wish for me to provide a free psychology talk to the students in your school, please send me an email at

Update of Letter to Ministry of Health

This is an update from the previous post, about the letter being sent to Ministry of Health (MOH) and Allied Health Professions Council (APHC). Hereby, it is stated that this letter may cause some controversy in the psychology community in Singapore; hence if you do not read further, please exit now. 

To protect the confidentiality of the sender, some details have been omitted or slightly altered.

To provide readers with better clarity on the topic and some of the things mentioned in the letter, this post will start from the first email/letter sent (as from the previous post) and links have been provided for you to access them. 

Sent: [Date removed]-10-11
Subject: Regulatory and Licensing
case number is PQ-11-00xxxx.

This enquiry is about the regulation and registration of psychologists in Singapore. I noticed that in the Allied Health Professionals Act 2011, it only included clinical psychologist, which means that only clinical psychologists will be regulated by this act. And in the HPP site, there is no council for the registration for psychologists. I understand that this registration is done by Singapore Psychological Society (SPS). However it is not compulsory if someone wishes to be a psychologist. Hence there is no formal regulation and registration for psychologists of other areas (educational/organisational/counselling/etc.) in Singapore.

Probably the ministry could look into this, and have some form of mandatory regulation for psychologists in Singapore. This is a vital issue as this affects the prestige and recognition of psychologists(clinical and other areas) in Singapore. This also creates a chain reaction for the academic programs in psychology in Singapore. 

I am not a clinical psychologist, so the regulations and the act do not really affect me at all; however I feel that for the benefit of our clients, there should be some regulation into the registration and control over the other areas of psychology as well. Doesn't "Do no harm to clients" not apply to all psychologists practising in Singapore?

Hope to hear back from you. Thanks for reading this feedback. 
Reply to sender:
Received: Oct xx 2011 

Dear xxxx,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to share the suggestions for our consideration.

MOH will take note of your feedback and we will consolidate all other public feedback for our next policy review.

We take this chance to wish you and your family good health always.

Yours sincerely, 

for Quality Service Manager
Ministry of Health, Singapore

Sender's reply:
Date: May xx 2013


The below enquiry and reply email was processed more than 17 months ago. However, it was not a very satisfactory reply, as there was no implications for what was going to be done, and nothing much seemed to be done in the last 17 months.

The Act has not been enforced for clinical psychologists as yet, since the passing of the Act (which I assume is 2011). I understand these processes take time. Is there a projected date/month for when this is going to happen?

And to ask the main question as posed in my previous enquiry again, shouldn't there be a mandatory registration for all other kinds of psychologists in Singapore enforced and imposed by the government, rather than a voluntary-based registration as done by the SRP
This is important, as this affects the prestige and recognition of psychologists (clinical and other areas) in Singapore, considering their influences on the salary rates of psychologists even though we study as many years as doctors.

Thanks for taking time to reply this email.
Reply to sender:
Received: June xx 2013 

Dear xxxx

The Allied Health Professions (AHP) Act was brought into force in April 2013 and registration has just commenced for occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech-language therapists.

The inclusion and regulation of the other allied health professions under the AHP Act will be reviewed and implemented progressively.

Thank you for your feedback.

Yours sincerely,
for Quality Service Manager
Ministry of Health, Singapore