Please Mind the Platform Gap: O Level Students’ Survival Guide (Part 2)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

by Valerie Tang (13S06F) and Amy Ng (13A01E)

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of RI’s academic management and should not be used as a substitute for formal academic counseling.

This open letter is targeted at O Level students interested in joining RI in JC1/Yr 5 through the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE).

Editor’s Note: It is incorrectly stated that uniforms must be purchased from outside RI. In reality, after Orientation, the school will arrange for the supplier to come to RI to sell uniforms. The RI Popular bookstore also sells the school uniform, although the salesperson may not be able to give proper advice on the correct sizing. We advise students to purchase their uniforms when the supplier comes to RI as Popular Bookstore may not have sufficient stock. We apologize for the error.

To the future RI JAE student:

So you have just received your O Level results and have qualified for Raffles. Good job! This guide is just for you. In our previous letter, we have already covered the nightmare of choosing subjects and preparing for the Raffles Academy (RA) and Humanities Programme so this issue will cover the more fun and exciting beginning to your JC life – Orientation, CCAs and Enrichment Programmes.

1) Orientation

Everyone pretty much has a good idea of what to expect during an orientation and RI’s not very different. There will be orientation groups, school houses, performances and cheers. Orientation typically takes place over five school days and it will end in the late evening for each day. If you are going to eat out to bond with your group mates, you may even find yourself reaching home at 8 or even 9 pm.

There will be games, of course, and since game organizers in general derive great amusement in putting male and female students in awkwardly close positions, you can expect games requiring the need to hold hands or pass rubber bands using straws in your mouths. It can be quite juvenile and uncreative but bear with it. If you have been in a single-sex school for the past four (or even ten) years, this is not the time to be shy.

Try to make good friends with your orientation group mates. Even if you find that the Raffles Programme (RP) students like to stick together, they can be nice so don’t brush them off altogether. Also, don’t forget that the other JAE students in your group are just as lonely as you are, so do your best to befriend them. Your orientation group mates can be your very first friends in a new setting.

On a side note, you will also be taught the Institution Anthem (it is not a school song; RI does not have a school song!) and the school cheers. Cheer along with the RP students to show your school spirit (even if you have only been in the school for say, two days).

2) Uniforms

After Orientation, you are officially part of the Raffles family! This means that you need to start wearing the Raffles uniform with pride. However, some students are unaware that the school uniform has to be purchased outside of school ( while the school badge can be found at the school’s Popular bookstore. So if you would like to avoid long queues and potentially ill-fitting uniforms, it is advisable to buy your uniforms early, before the supplier runs out of stock.

3) CCAs

When orientation is all over, you will be sorted into classes and meeting the classmates you will spend the rest of your JC life with. You shouldn’t expect to be put into the same class as your best friend (unless both of you share an extremely unique subject combination) since there are over 1000 RI students per batch, which is far bigger than an average secondary school’s yearly intake. Be prepared to face the challenge of having to make new friends but don’t worry: all your fellow JAE students and even many RP students will be in the same boat.

Shortly afterwards, you will attend a briefing on the CCA selection process and you will be able to survey the different CCAs during the CCA fair. You will be well-informed about the application process so there is no need to worry about that regard.

As for what CCA you should join, it is really up to you and your fundamental priorities in life. The idealistic and cliché piece of advice is to go where your interest lies. The more practical and kiasu recommendation is to go where your strengths lie so that you can get good records on your CCA certificates and Raffles Diploma.

A word of caution though: Since you are allowed to have multiple CCAs (as long as their scheduled timings don’t clash), do keep in mind that if you have too much on your plate, things can get too hectic during competition seasons. Unless you are sure of your superhuman capabilities, do not try having three CCAs while juggling two RA subjects.

4) Enrichment Programmes

In your first year, the first block on your timetable on Mondays will be called ‘Protected Time’. It is named as such since you will not need to assemble at school and teachers aren’t allowed to give you lectures and tutorials then. That is why you can wake up later than usual on Monday mornings to go to school – that is, if you don’t join an enrichment programme.

The first Monday block is kept free in order to accommodate the enrichment programmes that students may choose to take. There are many to choose from but you unfortunately will only be able to go for one, if any at all.

5) Other Concerns

If there are some other concerns that you might have about the RI JC experience, you may find the Please Mind the Platform Gap articles useful in your preparation for a new stage in your education and in your life. You can find them in the menu bar.

6) Aftermath

Things will get much smoother from there after the orientation process. You will be better informed of what your new curriculum will be like. In other words, this means lectures and tutorials. No more comfortable classrooms to call your own. In your first year, you will have to move from lecture theatre to classroom based on your timetable with occasional free breaks in between. Not to worry, you will get used to it soon. After all, this is just the hectic beginning of your exciting life in RI.

We look forward to your joining the Raffles family and wish you future happiness as a Rafflesian.

Best wishes

Valerie Tang 13S06F
Amy Ng 13A01E

20470cookie-checkPlease Mind the Platform Gap: O Level Students’ Survival Guide (Part 2)


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