Don't let what you want now cloud what you want in the future. Aspiring scholars should be fully prepared for the unique challenges that come with a scholarship – only in knowing that you are ready to face these challenges can you find greater fulfilment in your education and future career!
What Every Scholarship Applicant Should Know
Taking up a scholarship shouldn't be about the prestige or the tremendous monetary value of an all-expenses-paid-for education. Even though these factors are the main reason why scholarships appear so attractive, your decision on whether or not to embark on a scholarship journey should be based on how much of a good fit you feel you are for your future job and sponsoring organisation. It also helps immensely if you possess a genuine passion for or interest in your future career – you'll need it to sustain you when the time comes to serve your bond!
Scholarship-related decisions are not easy to make, especially for curious and hesitant 18-year-olds. Here are some things all aspiring scholars should know when considering their scholarship options.
A Degree vs. An Education
Most (if not all) scholarship boards will require you to maintain an excellent academic record during your time at university, and failing to achieve the requisite Grade Point Average might result in the scholarship provider terminating your scholarship.
This can inadvertently cause you to make compromises in your education, where you are forced to sacrifice your interest in a more challenging subject for another that will net you a higher grade. For instance, are you going to take up a fascinating module with a professor who is notorious for awarding grades no higher than a 'B', or take up a module you have no interest in but which promises an easy 'A'?
These dilemmas can influence the quality of the education you receive, because you will naturally be more inclined to pick modules that will boost your grades.
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Identify your aspirations, strengths and shortcomings when making any scholarship decision. What do you want your career to stand for when all has been said and done? Do you want your career to be about embracing a sense of adventure, building a more cohesive society, mentoring young ones or empowering the disadvantaged? You will need to go through an intensive process of self-discovery before making a decision on which scholarship to go for, and whether or not you should apply for one in the first place.
If you choose to take up a scholarship, you also ought to be fully aware that even though it opens many doors for you, it might also expose you to various unforeseen consequences. A scholarship is a fairly long commitment that will take you down roads that you may never have anticipated. As a scholar, take responsibility for your decisions and understand that you – and only you – are fully responsible for your decisions and your life.
Staying On After Your Bond
Scholars who have served their four- to six-year bonds will usually find themselves in their late 20s or early 30s. At that point, they might already be married and perhaps even have started their own families. It is also during this period that you are most concerned about personal finances – you might have housing and car loans to pay off and, on top of that, have to worry about supporting your parents and future children financially.
And when saddled with so many obligations and responsibilities, you will think twice about venturing into another industry upon completing your bond for fear of instability and risk. This leads a fair number of scholars to stay on long after their bonds because it is the 'logical thing to do', regardless of the level of interest in their work.