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How to Win a Scholarship to University, part 2

How to Win a Scholarship to University, part 2

In the previous post on how to win an undergraduate scholarship to enter university, I emphasised the importance of starting early, studying hard and ensuring good grades as a bare minimum, being polite and considerate to your teachers and school administrators, and taking on leadership roles and doing community service or voluntary work in the larger community. 

This advice or guidance is useful as a starting point.  

It can also be simply summed up simply as being ready, and as I heard Les Brown say before:

It is better to be prepared and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. 

After doing the hard work of studying hard, being prepared and attentive in class, attending seminars, lectures, tutorials, and lessons - it is time to make all the preparation count. 

What is the next step on the way to winning a scholarship? 

The next step is called planning

As the famous saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

It's so important that I have to state it again. 

After you have done all the basics and have started early, you now need to plan and think through what you will need to win a scholarship to university. 

There are basically a few important things that you have to plan for to ensure that you are well-equipped and ready to apply for a scholarship to university. 

The best way of think of this stage is to think of the following questions, which will help you make your plans. 

Think of these questions as a checklist for your planning purposes. 

First, what university would you like to go to? 

This is not an easy question to answer at all. 

There are famous and branded universities in the USA, for example Ivy League universities

Ivy League colleges are considered the most prestigious in the USA. There are eight total colleges that are considered Ivy League, namely Brown University, Harvard University, Cornell University, Princeton University, Dartmouth University, Yale University, and Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Of all the institutions of higher learning, these elite universities are considered the most outstanding and sought-after.

There are also famous universities in the UK, like Oxbridge (i.e., Oxford or Cambridge) and other Russell Group universities, such as the London School of Economics and Political Science, King's College London, Imperial College, the University of Manchester, and so on. According to the Russell Group’s website, the 24 member universities (sometimes colleges) are world-class, research-intensive universities with their own unique and distinguishing characteristics, history, and ethos. The commonality is that these universities are committed to maintaining the best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience for students, and unrivalled links with local and national business and the public sector. 

Singapore also has many strong local universities with global reach and impact - for example, the National University of Singapore (NUS) (and also its Duke-NUS Medical School and Yale-NUS College); Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (as well as the National Institute of Education, which sits within NTU); Singapore Management University (SMU); Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD); Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT); and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)

Some universities are stronger than others in certain degree courses; for example, LSE is very strong in Economics and is reputed to be one of the best in it. 

This brings us to our next question: 

Second, what university course would you like to apply for? 

There are many courses and degree programmes - double degree programmes; multi-disciplinary programmes; University Scholars Programmes; majors; minors; honours; and even non-honours. Bachelors of Arts; of Science; of Social Sciences. 

What university course would you like to apply for? 

What meets your talents, skills, and interests? 

What will be useful and helpful to you in the long run? 

There are many subjects. 

Since this website is basically about economics, the university degrees most related to economics are:

Mathematics, Mathematical Economics, Econometrics, Political Science, Business Administration, Management, and pure Economics programmes. 

What interests you? 

What would you find fitting, relevant, useful, and helpful to you? 

Third, which scholarship programmes are you intending to apply for? 

Similarly, this is not an easy question to answer at all. 

There are many types of scholarships, for example, private sector scholarships and government or public service scholarships. 

There are bond-free scholarships, and other scholarships which are bonded (i.e., there is an obligation to work for an employer for a certain period of time, should you take up the scholarship). 

There are partial scholarships, which do not pay for everything, and there are full scholarships, which pay for everything. Even the organisations, institutions, and services that offer scholarships are different. 

Fourth, what do you need for your application?

You will need references or testimonials; 

to deal with the application process, whether it is through the Common App or UCAS

to write a personal statement (often more than just one personal statement, each designed or targeted for a different target audience and with a different purpose); 

to take the SAT or ACT aptitude tests or entrance examinations, if any are needed; to prepare for an interview or even a series of interviews; and 

visa applications, and the list goes on. 

Think through and plan accordingly - what do you need for your university and scholarship application?

On that note, when planning, do remember: the timelines matter. 

They really do. 

Some applications are made before, and some are after, yet others are concurrent and simultaneous. 

You cannot report SAT scores that you have not attained, and you certainly want to find out if the university you are applying for accepts provisional scores or preliminary results from your preliminary examinations. 

If you want your teacher to write you a reference or testimonial, you will need to plan that out in advance:

Who will you ask? 

How long do they need? 

And how will they submit it, and will that take time? 

Buffer in more time. More time, more time. 

Don't do things last minute. 

In other words, think of what I said earlier - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

Plan and think through what you need, and you are yet another step closer to success. 

While there is no guarantee that you will be successful in a scholarship application, each step you take helps you get closer and closer to your dream degree and aspiration to be a scholar. 

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more. Thanks! 

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