The idea of having your tertiary education sponsored is appealing. But the competition for scholarships is strong.
As the A levels loom and the final semester of polytechnic commences, Mr Sam Ng, Managing Director of CareerBuilders Singapore, parent company of scholarship portal BrightSparks, explains what you should know when applying for scholarships.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL SCHOLARSHIP LIKE?
Most scholarships are offered by either government or government-linked organisations, educational institutions and private companies.
They typically cover school fees for the students' years in university, as well as living expenses and other costs, like textbooks. Some may even cover air travel, if the scholar's institution is overseas.
Most scholarships require the scholars to be bonded - usually for four years if the institution is local or for six years if it is overseas, said Mr Ng.
According to the BrightSparks Scholarship and Education Survey, the Public Service Commission, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University remain the top three scholarship providers among 1,800 respondents this year. Changi Airport Group comes in at fourth place.
SHOULD I STUDY ABROAD OR LOCALLY?
Going abroad will grant scholars "cultural exposure", said Mr Ng. Though intimidating, much growth happens out of comfort zones where opportunities to foster international friendships are plentiful.
Meanwhile, most scholarships cover all living expenses for students.
THINGS TO NOTE
Read the scholarship criteria carefully and do not miss the closing date for the application, said Mr Ng, who recommends that a student set aside at least a week to put together the application.
WHAT IF I AM REJECTED?
Mr Ng says that an appeal letter should be your first option - you can explain why the organisation or institution is of interest to you.
You can also consider a mid-term scholarship, after you have already started classes. This gives you time to discover what you're really interested in.
Mr Ng also suggests "creating your own opportunities".
This could include internships or volunteer work in your field of interest.
"An unsuccessful attempt does not ruin your chance to work in the organisation," he said.
"If you set your mind to serve there, take great strides towards your goal or find means to contribute to its overall purpose wholeheartedly."