P erhaps your wiry, bespectacled frame has led you to be termed a nerd or geek. Or maybe your bookish appearance gives you the air of a person given entirely over to learning – a scholar as they say.
What really makes a scholar? With over 60 scholarship providers available to Junior College and polytechnic graduates every year, many students aspire to become scholars and be groomed to take on leadership roles in their organisation or industry of choice.
The scholarship selection process is known for its rigour. In addition to a session at an Assessment Centre, scholarship hopefuls often have to go through multiple rounds of interviews, written tests and even psychometric assessments. With such a comprehensive selection process, scholarship providers sure seem to be looking for very specific qualities and traits.
We unpack the experiences of the multiple scholars featured in our BrightSparks magazines and show you what – if it can even be pinned down to a specific quality – scholarship providers want in their scholars.
This comes up multiple times in our interviews with scholars. When asked what they think made them stand out, scholars often cite their genuine passion in their field or subject area as a stand-out quality. There are scholars who fail to secure the scholarship on their first try, but still go on to clinch the scholarship on their second attempt as they successfully convince their interviewers of their desire to contribute.
Scholarship providers aren’t always looking for the best and brightest – a sincere interest in a future career with the organisation is even more important. This is why it’s crucial that you pick a scholarship in an industry you are interested in. When you have the passion for your course of study and future career, you can focus on being yourself and let your honesty, openness and interest convey themselves to your interviewers.
Open to Challenges
A scholarship is hardly a cushy ticket to a free education and guaranteed job. As a scholar, you will be given the best opportunities that will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and test your limits. Many scholars we speak to relish the new experiences and challenges that have allowed them to grow and develop as a person.
As a result, you should embrace an openness to unfamiliar experiences and challenges. A scholar should not be someone who is content to remain in his or her comfort zone. Instead, a scholar is someone that is in constant pursuit of new ways to expand his or her horizons and capabilities.
Knowing Your Limits
Scholarship applications are fraught with intense competition. Top students from all of Singapore’s pre-university institutions compete for a privileged spot with their scholarship provider of choice. You will thus be excused for thinking that scholars are almost always the cream of the crop and are already the best that they can be.
However, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The word ‘scholar’ literally refers to a person of learning, and learning never stops. A true scholar possesses a healthy dose of humility and a keen awareness of his or her own limits and areas for improvement. It may have been a considerable achievement to secure a scholarship, but as a scholar, you should never rest on your laurels.
Scholarship providers don’t just want to select the most capable individuals; they also want the keenest learners who will never turn down any learning opportunity. There’s no such thing as good enough when it comes to learning, and scholars possess an acute awareness that their learning journey will never end.
At the end of the day, it’s not the prestige of a scholarship that makes a scholar. Instead, it is the passion for their work, a sincere desire to contribute and an unquenchable thirst for learning that set scholars apart.