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Skills outside your scholarship, and why you should learn them

You’ve been awarded a scholarship and enter university justifiably proud of yourself – now that you have cinched support for your studies, surely all you need to do is study, study and study? That way, you will definitely maintain that high GPA expected of you and with it, your scholarship is secured!

Please think again. While grades are important, there’s so much more available in university than just tutorials and lectures! Orientation Week should have given you a good introduction to all the clubs and societies you can join, as well as recreational activities like sports matches, performances, hobby classes and artistic or scientific demonstrations.

“But I need to keep my scholarship!” you exclaim in protest. “So I have to study hard!” 

In fact, it’s the reverse. More and more, sponsoring organisations are looking for a wide range of experience along with a depth of knowledge. Organisations like Changi Airport Group and GIC are known for sending their scholars on overseas attachments, volunteer stints and even sports circuits so they can experience all life has to offer.

Remember, you’re still being assessed even after receiving your scholarship. Pursuing new skills and interests shows your scholarship provider that you’re dedicated to upgrading yourself. You have lots of dreams and goals and plans – and sponsoring organisations want to support such individuals! 

You’ll also discover that more opportunities open up when you develop yourself in areas outside of your normal learning scope. For example, a scholar who has learnt a country’s native language is more likely to be offered a posting there. 

Also, “interests” have a way of coming around and yielding significant benefits for the scholar and organisation. Scholars often tell us that the “soft skills” they learnt in university like teamwork, empathy and effective communication were more useful to their jobs than any amount of book learning. They honed these abilities by exposing themselves to different places and people through CCAs, charity projects and other activities, gaining knowledge of the many differing perspectives and outlooks that make up our world as a result. 

As you work and play in a variety of surroundings, you’re guaranteed to learn valuable life lessons outside the textbook curriculum. That’s one powerful argument for leaving your room and joining a club.

Another equally powerful argument for doing something new? It could be fun!

As a scholar, you may be under a lot of stress to maintain your grades and achievements. All the more reason to find something that helps you distress, or a place you can let loose and relax in. Some scholars take up sports to enjoy physical exertion (and the wonderful rush of a championship win or marathon completion), while others delve deep into pursuits like photography or baking.

In this case, pursue skills simply because you’re interested. Use the time you are spending on these external interests as a way to unwind after a hectic day of studying or working. As you pursue your dreams and career goals through the scholarship, it’s important to take some time off to simply be “you” as well.

A full university education entails embracing all the university has to offer – and a lot of that falls outside the books!


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