Scholarships 101: 7 Tips You Need to Know


SPM is finally over! It's now time to take down all the post-it's, recycle them notes and compile all your reference books into one huge bonfire (just kidding, don't do that).
While your results won't be out until March, it's never too early to get a head start on scholarships! Here are a few tips you need to know:

#1. Do your research.

Let's be real: everyone wants a scholarship. Most of us can't afford to pay for our entire tertiary education all on our own, so always, always make sure to do your homework on where and when you should apply for scholarships. Deadlines and requirements often vary. You would need to hit a certain benchmark or submit your application before a certain date in order to be awarded a scholarship. Since SPM is over and all you can't do much about your results once they come out in March, look around and see what options you have. Our resource page is a good place to start.

#2. Know what you want.

That being said, you need to know (at the very least) where you hope to end up studying. For instance, if you plan to go to the UK, you're not going to get there by doing Matriculation. Similarly, have an idea of how you plan to get where you wanna be. If you're targeting the UK, you would probably want to do A-Levels. What else do you need to do to get there? If so, where are you going to study? Does the college offer the subjects you want? If so, what are the requirements and what scholarships are offered? That would give you a good start off point.

#3. Academic scholarships aren't the only things out there.

Most colleges award merit scholarships (these are the ones that don't require you to have a straight-A's result slip) and a lot of private companies such as Astro and Maxis will offer scholarships to deserving students. Methodist College Kuala Lumpur offers special scholarships to students with ties to Methodist schools and churches. Some private unis such as Segi and Taylor's also offer sports-related scholarships, so you don't ALWAYS have to be Einstein-level genius to get one. There's a lot of money out there; you just gotta look for it.

#4. Don't limit yourself.

Apply. For. Everything. Apply for all the scholarships where you meet the requirements, you never know where you might end up because of it.

#5. Be prepared; know the terms and conditions.

Speaking of benchmarks, most scholarships would want you to hit a certain number of A's (and yes, these requirements are often very high). That being said, some scholarships can be quite tricky. Some scholarships have exams. Some scholarships have interviews. Some scholarships have bonds--this basically means you are tied down to the company for a specific amount of time should you choose to accept the scholarship. You would need to prepare yourself for these situations. What happens if you decide you no longer want to study what you've chosen? What happens then? Which brings us back to #1, do your research on scholarships, but also know what strings come attached.

#6. However, don't undersell yourself either.

I notice that most people tend to undersell themselves due to a lack of confidence. Don't do that, you'll close off a lot of opportunities that way and possibly end up somewhere you might regret just because you thought you weren't good enough. If you want that scholarship, go for it! Nobody is stopping you other than yourself. Who knows, you will never find out if you're good enough to enter a prestigious university with a mindset like that.

#7. Always have a backup plan

Scholarships can be a little fickle. I had a friend who did not get the scholarship she wanted, but, because she applied to many (even the ones that she wasn't entirely interested in) she got a full scholarship for her entire diploma course! The thing about life is that nothing is a guarantee, so it's always good to have a plan B should anything not turn out right.

At the end of the day, don't stress out over it too much! Keep trying and never give up hope. :) For the rest of you, what other tips do you have for SPM leavers? Comment below!



Written by: Peh Xin Ying

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