When people think of scholars, they usually think of top academic performers from pedigreed Junior Colleges. Junior College students were traditionally thought of as better academic performers than their polytechnic counterparts, and hence more likely to be successful in their scholarship applications.
However, this is quickly changing, and polytechnics have established themselves as centres of excellence and learning. Growing numbers of graduating secondary school students – top performers included – now view polytechnics as an attractive, and even better, option than Junior College.
But having been left under the radar for longer than they should, there is still a lot that scholarship providers can do to engage polytechnic students and provide them with information on the scholarship options available to them. Easy access to information and knowledge of proper application procedures will help scholarship providers gain access to the vast talent pool in the nation’s polytechnics.
Scholarship providers can organise more frequent information sessions to update students on the latest scholarships. Current scholars – undergraduates and full-time professionals alike – can also be invited to share their own experiences with interested students. The opportunity for personal interaction with existing scholars can go a long way towards helping students find answers to their queries, assuage any concerns they might have and boost their overall interest in the scholarship.
Information sessions are also a great way to disseminate information on the application process. These sessions should be organised with enough of a time buffer to give students time to consider their options, and when the application period nears, serve to remind them of it.
When it comes to making a decision, nothing is more useful than personal experience. Instead of waiting for students to approach them, scholarship providers can reach out to polytechnic students with more numerous internship opportunities. Students will be able to gain valuable working experience and also find out more about the scholarship provider first-hand.
It’s difficult to commit to a fixed path when they’re not even 20, but a positive internship experience could be just the thing that would help the nascent beginnings of interest and passion in a specific industry take root.
Internships will also make scholarships and the prospect of a future career with the sponsoring organisation more accessible to students. With next to no experience of the working world, internships will allow students to get up close and personal with their future line of work, enabling them to better visualise various possibilities and make better decisions.
Alternatively, scholarship providers can organise job shadowing attachments for polytechnic students. As opposed to a formal internship which one has to be selected for, these job shadowing stints could be made available to anyone who wishes to learn more about a certain industry or job.
The key is to facilitate greater interaction between scholarship providers, industry and students. This will lower the barriers to scholarship applications and encourage students to seriously consider a scholarship and career in their industry of choice.