You’ve gotten the email, or maybe the liaison contracted you personally with a happy note in his or her voice – you’ve been offered a scholarship! But instead of joy, you’re swamped with indecision and fear.
Do I really want this? What if I can’t keep up with my grades? What if I discover something else in university? Questions and worries swirl around in your head, and at that moment the scholarship offer is anything but a happy occasion.
Take deep breaths, sit down, drink a glass of water. This is a big decision, so you need time, space, and resources to reach a conclusion you won’t regret.
The First Step – Think, think, think
Put aside a day or two to really think on it. Brainstorm everything that you want from a scholarship, and everything you may be sacrificing. What wonderful experiences await you? What possible pitfalls are stopping you in your tracks? What does life after the scholarship look like to you, and what would it look like if the scholarship wasn’t in the picture?
You might want to ask trusted friends and relatives to help you as well. What are their priorities and concerns? For example, some scholars run themselves ragged trying to keep their parents from paying for college, only to discover that Mom and Dad had had already set aside a sum of money. Do you have a sick relative who limits your overseas study options, or is it the reverse scenario where university is your only opportunity to go abroad?
At this point, it’s important to put down everything you think of without judgement or censure. The aim is to transfer the clutter from your brain to your document or diary – where you can look through it carefully and thoroughly.
The Second Step – Define your Decision-Making Criteria
Now that you have everything on paper, it’s time to make some decisions about what makes or breaks the offer acceptance.
There are some big criteria that tend to come up in our choices. The first are our values. Living by clear morals helps us make tough decisions, and more importantly, helps us live with them. A good example is an applicant who rejects a prestigious offer from Mindef because of his pacifist beliefs. So, when you look at your offer letters, what are some things you will absolutely never give up or you absolutely must have?
Another important factor is your passion. Are you interested in this scholarship? Can you see yourself devoted to this subject day after day, from university all the way into working life? By the time you receive an offer letter, you have probably found your subject of interest in JC and expanded upon it during interviews and assessments. Relive those moments and check how you felt – excited at the prospects to explore or desperately wishing the interview would be over? These honest, emotional reactions will tell you where you want to be.
The Third Step – Keep to your Deadline
This is not so much as step as an imperative. Make a note of when you need to decide by, and for everyone’s sake (yours, the organisation’s, the friends who were your sounding board) decide by then and don’t look back.
As important as making a decision is committing to that decision. After sending in your acceptance or denial, do something relaxing totally removed from scholarships or offers or university. Watch a show, call a friend – don’t waste time second-guessing yourself or looking through the email you already sent.
A final note: If you have half a day left and you’re still tearing your hair out, it’s time to toss a coin or use one of those randomiser apps to get an answer. After all, this method has been proven to help with tough decisions by making consequences more real. Once the coin flip has committed you to one option or another, you realise which outcome you wanted all along.
Do I accept this scholarship – only you know the answer. Not the correct answer, because that doesn’t exist, but the answer for you. Find it, commit to it, and don’t regret!
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