There are a lot of scholarships available, with over 200 on the BrightSparks portal alone. Faced with such a huge number of options can be overwhelming and leave a student with “choice paralysis” or rather, not knowing where to start. We’ve compiled a guide to help with that crucial decision. Follow the steps, and apply with full confidence and a willing heart!
STEP 1: Research
The first step is to understand what scholarships are all about. Mostly, scholarships comprise two components – full or partial sponsorship of your education (plus whatever extras may be listed), and a bonded career with the sponsor organisation.
You can start by looking through this magazine to get an idea of what sponsoring organisations are offering and the experiences of their scholars. But don’t stop there – at the very least, you should aim to get a clear picture of the sponsoring organisation and its work, what education options they sponsor, and what developmental opportunities they offer for your career.
Follow through your application on BrightSparks
When applying on the BrightSparks portal, you will be automatically logged out after 20 minutes of inactivity. Make sure you have all your information at the ready to get your application done quickly!
It’s important to remember that organisations offer scholarships not only to give out need-based financial aid, but also as a means for recruiting talented future employees. Ultimately, they are looking for candidates who would be a good fit for the organisation. So it is helpful to know what qualities they are looking for, and whether you would like to work for them.
STEP 2: Know Yourself
Remember, a scholarship is a long-term commitment. Sponsoring organisations are looking for individuals to grow with them, with the scholar’s and organisation’s goals in alignment. For you to stay with them, your passions have to align with the scholarship provider’s vision.
ASK YOURSELF TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:
What are you passionate about, and how far will you go with it?
Most scholarships have a bond attached to the scholarship provider. When things get tough at work, it is your passion that will keep you going through the difficult times. So, are you passionate about this course of study, and this organisation?
Where Do You See Yourself in 5 to 7 Years?
You know you want to go far, but you need to think of your interests in specific, quantifiable terms. Are you willing to dedicate a long time to this particular career or area of interest? Can you see yourself doing this for years and years, even perhaps a lifetime?
Leading psychologists have found that the highest level of happiness is attained when one is able to use his strengths in service of a cause that he believes in. It follows that you should understand yourself better in at least two areas – your values and your strengths.
Increase your self-awareness by asking family and friends for their impressions, or doing a personality test. There is always value in quiet, focused self-reflection as well.
STEP 3: Shortlist scholarships
Now, knowing yourself and what you’d like, it’s time to decide which scholarships to apply for.
While there’s a temptation to apply for scholarships you have a chance at being selected for, remind yourself that that’s only one side of the story.
You must also consider which scholarships are suitable for you in the first place. Assuming you are sure of your interests, you should select scholarship providers with matching career opportunities, and whose corporate mission and core business resonate with you.
If you are looking for a mid-term scholarship, you probably already have an idea of where your interests lie. In that case, you can focus on which organisations offer sponsor the course you are in, and what sort of career you can expect with them.
TIP: Remember to utilise the BrightSparks Scholarship Comparison Table to compare the array of scholarships available!
Get on an internship
If you have the time, try taking up an internship with an organisation you’re interested in, or attend a workshop or fair they organised. These are golden opportunities to get up close and personal with the organisation’s members, and learn about the work they do.
STEP 4: Apply
Having sorted out where you want to go, it’s time to apply!
Generally, the window for scholarship applications is short (a month from the A-Level results release date), but mid-term scholarships may have a longer window. For example, the HDB Mid-Term Scholarship is open all year round.
For most scholarships, applications can be submitted using an online form provided by BrightSparks. However, other scholarship providers may require you to submit your applications via their websites.
Prepare sufficient time and resources when tackling this tedious task. Have your documents on hand, and try to finish your application in one dedicated sitting to save yourself later worry.