If clinching one scholarship offer is a call for celebration, pulling two in your bag is double the blessing. You ought to be proud of your achievement, so give yourself a pat on the back before you move on to address the tricky issue of choosing between different scholarship providers.
But just like how a monkey in silk is a monkey no less, a good problem is still a problem. Having to choose between multiple scholarship offers can involve a painstaking decision-making process. As a bright, young individual on the brink of adulthood, you no doubt have strong interests in a variety of areas and are raring to pursue a career in an area you are passionate about and make your mark on the world.
We help you make sense of the multiple factors at play when it comes to choosing a scholarship provider and settle on a decision that will help you find fulfilment now and in the future.
Where Your Interests Lie
Your interest in your future job scope is arguably the most important factor. The prospect of being able to plumb the depths of knowledge in your field of interest and the opportunity to apply them in your future career can serve as strong pull factors that attract you to a particular scholarship. For example, if you like transforming an idea in your head into a tangible 3D object, choose a scholarship that has to do with engineering, design or architecture.
Picking a scholarship solely because of its prestige or how statistically popular it is is dangerous – your lack of interest will get the better of you eventually and affect your studies and your future performance on the job.
Always remember that a scholarship is a long-term commitment. Scholarship bonds can last up to six years, and scholars who break their bonds often suffer heavy financial penalties. A scholarship is anything but a ticket to a free education – you need to look beyond university and be able to envision yourself in your future career.
Not all scholarships are created equal. Some organisations provide full coverage where all expenses are taken care of, including tuition fees, hostel fees, overseas exchange programme expenditures and the costs of a laptop and books. In addition, some scholars also enjoy coverage of their return airfare and a monthly allowance.
There are organisations that also provide partial or mid-term scholarships, where a fraction of scholars’ tuition fees are paid for and scholars serve shorter bonds. Different scholarship packages also vary in the provision of their monthly allowance, ranging from S$200 to S$1,000 each month.
Depending on your priorities and financial situation, these variables might or might not rank highly on your list of factors to consider.
Length of Bond
You may see your scholarship bond as a way of simply ‘paying back your debt’ after your studies or perhaps as a path to the security of having a good job after graduating.
The length of your bond is proportionate to the costs and duration of your undergraduate studies and is often a major deciding factor for aspiring scholars – if you are not ready to be tied to a company for a good four to six years after your graduation, you may want to think twice about taking the next step. Alternatively, you can aim for a scholarship provided by your university which naturally doesn’t require you to serve a bond, or a bond-free scholarship such as the one offered by OCBC Bank.
Career Advancement Opportunities
It is important to do your research on what lies ahead in your career path. Some organisations handsomely invest in training for their staff, or allow their staff to participate in overseas conferences and seminars.
The Public Service is popular for its robust career development framework which includes job rotations within the organisation, in addition to postings and secondments to other agencies in the public sector. On the other hand, jobs in the private sector allow one to grow his or her skillsets and provide ample room to grow, create and innovate on your own terms!
A Plethora of Other Benefits
Some organisations have a heavier emphasis on having a work-life balance than others. While there are some who hold sacred flexible work arrangements such as flexi-hours and telecommuting, others look forward to having staff benefits like being able to embark on an annual company vacation or incentive trip.
You can also make use of the scholarship comparison table on the BrightSparks website which allows you to assess up to 20 scholarships simultaneously side-by-side, effectively giving you a broader and clearer perspective when you are making your decision.
Ultimately, choose the scholarship which offers you a job that is the closest match to your interest. Although it is easy to get caught up in the idea of scoring the most prestigious and competitive scholarship, don’t allow the prestige and monetary enticement of the scholarship to cloud your judgment!