Oh, you lucky bug! Your hard work has paid off, and now you have multiple scholarship offers sitting on your desk or in your inbox. First off, congratulations on your success!
But you probably don’t feel all that lucky right now, because a big decision looms on the horizon. Which scholarship do you choose?
It’s easy for us to say, “go where your heart tells you”, but that’s not really much help.
What will help, however, is a priority system. Line up and list down what you’re looking for in a scholarship, then order them by level of importance. Some priorities that prospective scholars often consider include:
1. Career Progression
This refers to what kind of promotional track you can expect with the organisation. Some organisations, like MINDEF, have narrower career tracks where scholars are expected to go into certain fields. Others may emphasise having their scholars rotate departments regularly as a compulsory part of their bond.
2. Career Pathways
Not be confused with career progression, this refers to the diversity of positions available. A large organisation like LTA or the SgIS Scholarship offer many different options when it comes to serving your bond and future career. In contrast, organisations that concentrate on a particular sector like ST Engineering would naturally only offer jobs within that spectrum.
3. Benefits and Stipends
Aside from paying for your education, what else does the organisation offer? Companies like CAG are famous for the holistic support they offer their scholars, even sponsoring gap years or postgrad studies.
There are also small(er) things like laptops, spending money, and what sort of rent and utilities the organisation will cover. Look into it and see if the offerings suit your spending habits.
4. Non-academic support
This refers to anything outside your studies that the organisation has prepared for you. These include study trips, management programmes, networking sessions and scholar support groups.
If you’re studying overseas, a point of contact in the organisation who regularly checks up on you may become a great source of encouragement.
We’ll be upfront that some scholarships and some universities are more well-known than others. You may wish to opt for a degree that gives you that fame, or this may be a non-priority for you if you’ve already decided where to go.
Remember that “fame” means different things to different people and industries. While Harvard and Oxford are always well-known, certain institutions may be famous for their respective fields. California Institute of the Arts, for example, has a niche in the design world even the best cannot enter.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should get you started on how to decide. Remember to think carefully and prioritise according to your own needs, and you’ll soon find the one you can commit to!