A non-political, non-profit community of Malaysian college and university students aimed at collecting and distributing information about education, opportunities and the future generation of Malaysia. Comments, suggestions, e-mails are welcome!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

SPM, Overseas, Local, Scholarship - Petronas-MISC Scholarship

Although I am under MISC scholarship, confusion often arises as I am not really under MISC. MISC is a subsidiary of Petronas, and I applied for my current scholarship through Petronas. When I am asked on how I obtain my current scholarship, my answer, in a short version will be, “Well, it has never been easy.” The long version is this:

It was after my SPM Trial Exam. Application for Petronas Scholarship was open shortly after the application for Matriculation began. It was a busy period: to apply for Matrics and also to cram for SPM and now, Petronas Scholarship. This period is actually testing the students on time management. Game-playing time should be minimized, if not totally cancelled at this time.

Petronas Scholarship is NOT a scholarship; a better word to describe it is sponsorship. This means that the scholarship is given in the form of a convertible loan. If you obtain a good result in Pre-U level and make it to one of the universities of their choice, the sponsorship will be continued. If you fail to achieve that (which rarely happens), your sponsorship will be terminated and you will have to pay back whatever you owe Petronas. The same concept applies when you graduate from the university. Although the placement rate is high, disappointing results in the university exam will result in the termination of the sponsorship and the same consequences follow. However, if they assign you a job in Petronas, your sponsorship will be automatically turned into a scholarship (which means you don’t have to pay back a cent) but you have to work for them until your bonding period ends. If you resign before that, the same consequences will follow.

For Petronas Scholarship, everything matters. They require a whole lot of information from you: Total siblings, parents’ income, extra-curricular activities, positions, achievements, parents’ occupation, results (of course), your preferred course and more. If any or both of your parents are Petronas employees, I don’t think I have to tell you what to do. Your parents will be faster than me. Your chance will be much higher than others. However, your results will still have to shine. There are two intakes for the scholarship: October or March the following year. Let’s start with the October version.

Application for Petronas Scholarship in October will require your SPM Trial/Forecast Exam results. If you think you have a favourable results (ie. All A1s in their chosen subjects) then by all means, go for it. If not, I think it’s a better idea to wait for next year. In my year, Petronas lists down 5 subjects they see as important or essential: English, Modern Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and I don’t it has changed. From unconfirmed news, for new applications from October 2006, an A in BM is a prerequisite. However, there is no absolute truth in this statement yet. Please find out. Although what matters the most is the five subjects, Petronas still looks for applicants with many As as possible. For every A1, you get a point. A2 will be 2 points, B3 = 3 points and so on. For overseas application, you must not get more than 10 points (ie. At least an A2 in all 5 subjects). For local scholarships (UTP), you must not get more than 15 points (ie. At least a B3 in all 5 subjects). As it will be very competitive, getting 5 points will give the applicant an extra edge when it comes to selection for interview. However, bear in mind that it’s not an automatic qualification for interview offer. It will also depend on your preferred course (i.e. first choice). If you choose engineering courses (and you like it too), chances are that you will be called for interview. On the other hand, if you applied for medicine course, your chance of being called for interview will be very slim even if your results are excellent. Courses offered by Petronas are (as of now):

a) Engineering (Local/Overseas) - Civil, Mechanical, Chemical, Petroleum
b) Marine Engineering / Naval Architecture (Overseas)
c) Business (Overseas) – Economics, Accounting, Business Studies
d) IT and IT Management (Local/Overseas)
e) Geology / Geoscience (Overseas)
f) Medicine (Overseas) – Very limited

Course (b) is awarded by MISC Bhd, a shipping corporation. However, it is not awarded on a yearly basis. It will only be awarded when there’s a need for marine engineers or naval architects. It may not be available at your year.

Extra-curricular activities (ECA) are very important. ECA achievements and positions will prove a candidate’s leadership and involvements in school. Apparently, Petronas is looking for all-rounded individuals and the best part is this: they are not only looking for students good academically but also in ECA.

When you are selected, you will be invited to Educamp, their selection camp in their university, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP). It will be held normally in December, depending on when SPM ends. The interview will be incorporated into a three-day-camp.

The camp is the interview itself. Starting from your first step into UTP, you are being evaluated by every eye looking. So, try to refrain yourself from being degraded. There will be some group activities after the opening ceremony and these activities are testing you in various ways being providing fun. As leadership skills are very important, Petronas places high hopes on confident applicant. So, step out of the comfort zone and show them that you can lead!

At the interview session, there will be an individual case-study session and a group discussion, mainly on the same case. During the individual case study, it is best to give your views with reference to current issues and also be very logical. Do not pause for too long or express views with a sad face. During the group discussion, it will be better if you give way to others to speak too rather than dominating the discussion. Try to show that you can motivate a good discussion leading to a consensus. Be everybody’s heroes. During the individual session, you will be given a time of 10 minutes to communicate with one/two interviewers. Actual length of time is not important but a short (<7 minutes) individual session may denote that you have not given enough. The group discussion will follow for 40 minutes (4/5 members in a group).

After the interview on the third day, it’s goodbye time. Results will be out by the final week of December (for my year, it’s 30 Dec) and successful applicants will have to leave as early as the first week of January. They will be sent to do preparatory programmes in various colleges.

For those who failed the first application despite being selected for the interview and doing well in it, don’t despair! I was exactly in that position. Having failed my application to study Economics, I thought that there’s no more hope but there’s re-application after the release of SPM results in March. Application process for June intake will begin in March and it’s exactly the same with the October version. However, application in October is open to MRSM, SBP and some selected national school students only. Application in March is open to everybody. Applicants who failed to secure the scholarship will be considered again upon re-application. However, this only applies to applicants who were selected for interview in December. For applicants who didn’t grab it at the first shot, once again, don’t despair! You stand an equal chance with others. I am a living example: I got the scholarship through re-application (I changed my course though). Re-application and October application results can be obtained from the website (NOT Petronas official website, but http://esuonline.petronas.com.my).

For Petronas, “yes” means yes, “no” means no. There’s no “maybe”. Unlike JPA, the term “appeal” is not in Petronas’s dictionary, which I think can reduce their headaches.

Now, I am in Taylor’s College, under a scholarship like no other: MISC/Petronas. Their welfare is fabulous:
a) Tuition fee and all other college fees - All paid for.
b) Allowance for 3 months - RM 1,075
c) Books allowance - RM 300 (per every year of Pre-U sponsorship, not calendar year)

It is actually quite enough if you use it well. Also, under this scholarship you will feel the sense of belonging. Looking forward to see all of you achieving your personal goals as well.

Albert Khor is currently doing his A-Levels in Taylor's College. He is going to be studying Marine Engineering in the United Kingdom under the MISC scholarship. He applied for 8 scholarships in total after his SPM exams and went through numerous rejections and disappointments. He admits that he is very blessed now. Contact him at khor_albert at yahoo dot com

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Scholarship, Local - Star Education Fund

I'm currently a first year student of Bachelor of Commerce in Metropolitan College. I am majoring in Marketing and Management for the Curtin University Program. Though I started out with a pure science background in high school, and went on to Bio-Science in SAM, Taylor's College, I've taken a 180 degrees spin into commerce. Why?

For starters, what I wanted to do isn't what I'm doing right now. I wanted to do Sport Science, but my parents fear that there is no job prospect in that. So after much persuasion, I agreed to go into something "more marketable", to quote my mom. Seeing the ad for the Star Education Fund in the papers, my mum urged me to apply for it.

Applying for SEF
There are two intakes for the Star Education Fund each year. One after STPM and one more around August-September. When you apply, there will be a list of colleges/universities/institutions that are affiliated with the Star. For every institution, the scholarship value is different i.e. some full, some partial. You have to choose which institution you would like to get into, as well as the specific course.

Metropolitan College offered 2 spaces this year, full scholarships. One for RMIT and one for Curtin. However, the scholarship only provides for a 3+0 program.

Applying for the SEF is simple. There wasn't much to comply with. You just have to be a rather active student with above average results. How many certified certs you wish to include is entirely up to you. In short, you need to "sell" yourself. Simply print the form from the website, fill it up, and send it in before the due date. You can only apply for one institution.

Then, sit nicely at home and wait till you get called.

I forgot how long they took to assess everything and shortlist candidates for interview. But it wasn't very long. When you get called, half the battle is won. Now, the interview is actually conducted by the admin staff of the college you applied for. There'll be a representative of Star there as well. That is why you have to choose which college to go into when you apply. I have been told that the scholarship fund actually comes from the institution, and not from the Star. The Star only facilitates the process. The main purpose of the SEF is to aid the needy in getting a tertiary education. Therefore, questions asked during the interview would be something like "How would you finance yourself should you not get this scholarship?". They are more concerned about your financial background. However, some questions would also be asked based on your achievements. (Note: Keep a copy of what you wrote when filling up the forms. Read them through before you go for the interview.)

The scholarship
If you have been successful, they will call you up to go and collect your letters. you will then be able to register for the respective college, with that letter. Relatively good results have to be maintained throughout the course. You will also be advised to be active in the college and so on.

One oh-so-terrifically-great thing about the SEF is that there is no bond. You need not work for The Star after you're done. The only thing they hope you would do in return is to join the SEFA - Star Education Fund Alumni www.sefa.org.my. Trust me, you'd want to join it.

SEFA organizes many events which are pretty fun. I recently went for this Treasure Hunt from KL to PD and it was such a great experience. I look forward to future events, and eventually to joining SEFA. No kidding.

I'd say apply for SEF. It's not a particularly fancy scholarship program, but it has its perks. when I'm done with this 3 years, I might just take up Sport Science. If i have sufficient funds that is. But where there is a will, there is a way....

By Karen Siah
Karen Siah is currently a first year student of Bachelor of Commerce in Metropolitan College. She is majoring in Marketing and Management for the Curtin University Program. Karen is funded by Metropolitan College through the Star Education Fund.

Scholarships, Aus, NZ, Local - Yayasan Sime Darby

Name of Scholarsip: Yayasan Sime Darby for Overseas and Local Unis

Country of Sponsorship: Australia & NZ

Type: Full Scholarship comprising of Tuition Fees, Fixed Allowance (for Accomodation, Bills, Meals, etc.), Airfare to and from place of study at beginning and end of study, book allowance per annum, one-time settling down & clothing allowance.

Field of Study: Engineering, Biotech/Biosciences, Computer Science, Accounting, Business Administration (it may change to include other fields or exclude the aforementioned fields. Look out for the newspaper ad. But this is the general list)

Tenure: As long as the duration of your course of study

Bond: 7 years for overseas, 4 years for local (regardless of course of study)

Prerequisite: Conditional Offer Letter from University of your own choice (Necessary to be even considered for interview!), Minimum 7A1s for SPM, STPM/Pre-U results or forecast results, Participation in extra-curriculur/community service activities

When/How to apply: Look out for advertisements in newspaper. As for the website, they will only post up applications when advertisements appear in newspapers. Usually between March to May when SPM & STPM have been released. There is usually no application form, but they usually require your personal particulars, CV, and passport-size photograph along with the certified hard copies of the prerequisites.

Contact: www.simedarby.com

Person-in-charge of Scholarship: Viknesh & Zurain

Interview Format:

Preliminary Interviews:

Typically 8 interviewees per session, for a total of 16 days of interview sessions. Upon arrival, interviewees are required to fill in an application form and are given 30 minutes to write an essay on a given topic. I was lucky my topic was something like 'What industries is Sime Darby involved in and how do they contribute to the Malaysian economy'. Do your homework so you know enough information about the company, which is actually a huge, multi-national conglomerate. Sime Darby has extensive information on who they are, what they do, and how they come about on their website.

The prelim interview session is broken into 2 parts - face-to-face interview and Case Study (also known as Group Discussion)
Face-to-Face Interview: Usually with HR Execs. Arrive on time, dress smart formal, keep the nails and hair trimmed. Inherently interviews are all about getting to know each other. When they ask questions like "Tell us something about yourself", you should not be asking them back "What do you want to know?" This is your big chance to wax about yourself. Basically, you want them to see that you're capable of something and not just some slob living everyday life without any zest for anything in particular or a nerd who knows nothing other than studying. Smile! Allow the interviewers to communicate with you, be polite. Sound confident without being condescending. Don’t worry about your interviewers; they were really pleasant! At the end of the session, do ask for the e-mail address of your interviewer so that you can send in your 'Thank-you's and appreciation for their time.

Case Study:

Reflects on the interviewee's maturity and the ability to express ideas/opinions/arguments as well as making decisions and influencing others into agreeing to you. The 8 will be split into 2 groups.

For this prelims, if you are someone with reasonably good results, could express yourself fairly well in English, and portrayed yourself decently, you would most definitely make it to the selection/final interview.

Final Interview:

Selection/Final Interview: Typically 30 interviewees per session, for a total of 2 days of interview sessions For this session, you have only 1 face-to-face interview with HR Managers/Directors. They are the ones you want to impress because it is either you make or break it.

Probability of securing scholarship per year: This is an estimate from my own experience. They do not guarantee the actual figures and do not necessary reflect how Sime Darby makes their selection every year.
Applications: 300+
Prelim Interview: ~120
Final Interview: ~60
Chosen for overseas: 5-8
Chosen for local: 15-20

Expected Time for Response:
Prelim Interview (right after application): 1 month
Final Interview (if you passed the prelims): 1-2 weeks
Selection for scholarship: 1 month or more

Important Requirements for Consideration:

Passion: When you are on your quest to securing a scholarship, you have to want it with all your heart. Overseas scholarships are quite limited, especially for post-pre-university students so you want the scholarship so badly, you will find all ways and means to prepare yourself for interviews, keep yourself abreast on your field of study, and keep your grades up to mark. It is not something tangible, but people will be able to see and feel it from you, especially your interviewers. On a personal level, I have 'successfuly' been rejected by JPA, Petronas, ASEAN Pre-U, and Jardine (for Oxford and Cambridge Unis only) before being selected by Sime Darby. If you ask me, that is quite a number of rejections. Was I disappointed? Of course! Was I desperate? You bet I was! Even more each time I got rejected.

Grades & Exam Results: Contrary to the popular belief (especially those held by parents), grades are NOT everything. I'm not talking about being an all-rounder here, I am saying that you do not need to have straight A's (or 1A's for SPM) for ALL your exams to get a scholarship although your chances will be greatly improved if you're an all-rounder to begin with. You just have to possess reasonably good grades. One or two C or Ds in your report card for your internal exams just shows that you're a normal human being with limitations. Sure, there are people out there who have impeccable records, but they are but a few. Not everyone can be Einstein. Interviewers know this and usually they give a bit of leeway when it comes to reviewing your scholarship in the grades criteria as long as you meet the minimum requirements (i.e. SPM. My results were in fact at the minimum requirement at 7A1s). My interviewer even asked me about my Physics results and my bad performance in Form 4 which gave me a chance to explain on how I bettered myself to get that A1 in SPM. However, it is essential to at least have excellent results for your final examinations.

A LASTING Impression: We all know that a major component of any interview session is the time spent conversing with the interviewers themselves. They are the ones who will determine whether you get the scholarship or not. They also have emotions and feelings like all of us. Besides the basics of interviews like dressing and manners, there is one very important aspect in securing the interview session: making a LASTING impression. If they like you, you stand a higher chance. If they don't, you can forget about all your excellent academic achievements and extraordinary sporting prowess. As I've mentioned earlier, be confident not cocky. You might want to include/say something unique during your interview session so your interviewers remember you for it. ALWAYS remember to send them 'thank you' mails or letters to acknowledge their time and effort spent with you. The interviewers would certainly appreciate it.

Yours Sincerely,
Justin Tiew

Justin Tiew Senn is a 19 year old YSD(Yayasan Sime Darby) scholar
who is going to pursue a double degree in Computer Science & Mechatronics in Melbourne University. He did his A-Levels in Taylor's College and had his secondary education in VI. His passions include Water polo, web & graphic design, body-building, & photography

Short hiatus

Sorry for the delay in posts, guys! We've just had our Thanksgiving break so we've all been away from our computers and Tinkosong.com. But keep coming back - there are more great posts coming up concerning scholarships like the Petronas-MISC scholarship and the Star Education Fund. Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

STPM, US - Wesleyan Freeman Asian Scholarship

Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT Freeman Asian Scholarship Program

Wesleyan University, a offers a prestigious full scholarship to citizens of the following 11 countries :
People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. 2 Freeman Scholars are chosen from each country every year, making a total of 22 incoming Freeman Scholars every year.

Info about Wesleyan University : Wesleyan University http://www.wesleyan.edu/admission/international/freeman.html
Freeman Scholarship is a full scholarship for four years, including room and board, ONE plane ticket to the US and ONE plane ticket back after 4 years. Also, a generous books and supplies stipend is provided every semester as well as a considerable monthly stipend. In addition, if your English is not your first language/your English is not excellent, the scholarship will sponsor a one month intensive English program at the beautiful Yale University.

Wesleyan University(www.wesleyan.edu) in Middletown, CT, (not to be confused with Wellesley, a girls college, or several other Wesleyan institutions elsewhere in the US) is a small, liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2500 undergraduates and 200 graduates. Wesleyan prides itself on its highly flexible academic program; the University does not require any core syllabus and allows students to take nearly any classes they please, as long as they complete a major. Wesleyan has excellent overall academic performance, with dedicated and good professors in all fields. The environment here is very liberal, with very high student activism levels. Even though Middletown is a small town, you can be sure that there’s always something to do on campus.

Wesleyan has a very strong international student community. International students, most especially Freeman Scholars, are very, very well taken care of at Wesleyan. It is hard to express the care and concern that I’ve experienced here in the past three months. Make sure you come for International Student Orientation!

Application process : Send an email to Dean Terri Overton toverton@wesleyan.edu and request for a application form. There is no online application for the Freeman Scholarship. Do not send in the Common Application. Please read http://www.wesleyan.edu/admission/international/freeman.html first. 10 finalists are chosen from each country and are interviewed (in their respective home countries) by a panel of interviewers, usually Mr and Mrs.Freeman and John Driscoll, a dean at the college.

Requirements : For Malaysians, forecast SPM results are specifically NOT accepted. You will have to have some sort of higher-level education in progress, i.e. A-Levels, STPM, etc. (I’m not sure about CPU etc.. email Dean Overton to get more information)

For all applicants, the normal SAT scores as well as TOEFL exam scores are required as well. General Hints : Wesleyan likes varied, interesting applicants, not just your academic performance. Tell them about your ballet concert! Show them your SCUBA diving experience! Write about your beloved hometown/housing estate!

I hope that the above information has been helpful for you, and I really do recommend that you should try to apply (after all, it’s free…). Wesleyan University is a really great place to be. Come with an open mind and, if you prefer, a thick skin, and you will have an amazing experience. If you have more questions, you can contact me (Kin Yan) at http://www.chewkinyan.com/ or through this site.

By Chew Kin Yan

Monday, November 14, 2005

Exchange Programs - American Field Service (AFS)

Fancy living as a local in a foreign country? Just google "exchange programmes", and within an approximation of 0.08 seconds, a list of about 3 million organisations providing such programmes appears en masse on your screen. Just a few famed international organisations amongst the many in Malaysia which cater to students interested in exchange programmes are Rotary International, Lions International and the American Field Service. Amongst its peer organisations, the American Field Service, is popular amongst Malaysians, evident in the number of Malaysian youths becoming a part of the AFS family which is exponentially growing from year to year. So why the AFS? As its website quotes, it's 50 years old, and is the oldest high school student exchange organisation, it's only organisation to have been awarded the United Nations Testimonial Citation for services to youth and has the greatest diversity of programme lengths and destinations in the market.

The American Field Service(AFS), which started out as an ambulance service by an American soldier was founded in 1914 to transport wounded French soldiers to hospitals. Being a non-profit, non-governmental and entirely voluntary organisation, it aims to promote international peace and understanding amongst today's generation through intercultural learning opportunities. It is primarily due to A. Piatt Andrew's selfless initiation that students from all over the world now have the opportunity to participate in various intercultural programmes, ranging from short-term programmes, lasting approximately 3 months, to long-term "gap year" programmes, in which students have the opportunity to localise themselves in a foreign country for a year. The types of programmes vary from country to country. AntarabudayaMalaysia or ABM(as AFS is known in Malaysia), offers the Intensive, Semester and Year programmes for students up to 18 years of age. Although AFS in general also caters to young adults above 18, unfortunately, as far as I know, ABM does not as yet have such programmes available, despite a newly initiated "Educator's" programme being available in Malaysia hosting foreigners interested in environmental, educational work, and community service.

The Intensive Programme lasts usually 8 weeks, and students in Form3 to Form5 are eligible, whilst as the duration for the Semester programme is 6 months, and the Year programme, a year, only Form5 students are eligible to apply. The list of countries available for application is extensive and largely depends on the type of programme you are interested in. For example, the Intensive programme the new additions to long-standing Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and France are China, Finland, South Africa and Turkey. As for the Year programme, one may have the option of choosing from the US, Argentina, Hungary, Australia, Germany, Japan, or New Zealand.

The cost of an exchange programme, I must admit is rather exorbitant, with an Intensive programme costing RM10,000 and a Year programme, RM20,000. The sum basically covers return flight and departure tax, international insurance, pre-departure camp and post return camp in Malaysia, arrival camp, delayed orientation, end of stay camp and other activities in host country, any travel cost incurred from airport to host-family from hosting place to any camp sites, 24 hour emergency support while in host country, medical insurance, enrollment at hosting school, screening of host families, and administrative and international communication costs. Please, however bear in mind that I'm writing from knowledge of fees from 4 years ago, so please do check out for increment in fees. As for those keen on participating, but cannot afford the imposing costs, worry not, scholarships are aplenty, like the Mercator Foundation Scholarship, Yayasan ABM, and Yayasan Sime Darby, and Youth Exchange and Study Programme just to name a few.

After submitting your applications, you will be called for an interview depending on the area you live in. The interview session is not at all intimidating, as is widely misconceived. As the AFS prefers bold, enthusiastic, outgoing and versatile students who possess good communication and social skills, you will be put through a series of
fun games requiring maximum interaction. Like an assessment, if you like. You will meet a lot of people of your age who are also like you, keen on learning about a foreign culture. This is not to say that you will not have to go through an interview for selection purposes, however. The questions posed are quite simple really, ie, why you want to participate in the programme, how you will promote Malaysia to your foreign friends..etc At their very meanest, the interviewers may put you in a difficult hypothetical situation, of which you will be asked how to handle. I don't suggest stressing yourself out for the interview as at the end of the day, you'll find that you've had more fun than worry or anxiety at the session. Also, don't bother preparing notes for your interview to regurgitate your answers from to avoid sounding totally superficial and mechanical, although it would be wise to take a think about why you are interested in the programme.

A word of advice, though, assuming you have been successful in your interview, you are no necessarily guaranteed a place in the country of your choice This is because AFS has to perform rigorous screening and selection processes for maximum compatibility of host families to ensure a pleasant learning experience for both the student and the host family.

Good luck! Be sure to visit www.afs.org.my for more details on the particular programme you are most interested in.

By Jollivet Ng

Jollivet Ng, an 18 year old A-levels student in Kolej Yayasan UEM(KYUEM), Lembah Beringin, is an AFS returnee of Spain 2001/2002. A former student of SMK(P) Sri Aman, Jollivet is a self professed globe trotter, and enjoys crossing borders and boundaries to learn about cultures and languages foreign to her tame senses. She is optimistic about another exchange programme in the near future.

SPM - Good luck!

How I remember this day 2 years ago - the numerous sleepless nights, the endless supply of caffeine, the multiple text books, reference books, practice exams, the scary dreams I would have about missing a Chemistry exam - Oh SPM 2003, I curse you to a slow, painful death.

To all of you who are taking your first papers today: You will look back upon this day many years later, remembering the fear and worry you are feeling right at this instant. But it will not matter then - SPM will just be another memory to you, just as it is to me at this moment.

For this moment, though - Good luck and God bless. You guys will do well, I'm sure of it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Opportunities - Help us help others

Have you completed your education on a scholarship other than JPA? Studied abroad on financial aid or on a loan? Financed your education through a student job? Volunteered in a missions or outreach trip? Were involved in a student exchange program? We want to hear how you made it!

Your information would be most important to Tin Kosong because we are constantly on the lookout for people who were diligent enough to find other means of supporting their tertiary education and opportunities to experience life outside of academics. We would love to help distribute your experiences to help teenagers who are looking for experiences like yours. Your information would be more than helpful!

Please email us at tinkosong@gmail.com with the basics about your scholarship or your experiences and we will get back to you so quickly you won't even have moved your cursor off the "Send" button. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Choice of course - Actuarial Science

Actuarial Science is becoming a more and more popular field of study among Malaysian students these days. For those of you who are not familiar with what is means, actuarial science is the science of studying probabilities and applying them to real-world situations.

There are a number of ways which one can pursue the study of actuarial science in Malaysia. This, of course, is a very broad overview of the possible routes one can take to study actuarial science is a tertiary institution.

1. A-Levels

A-Levels will definitely provide a solid foundation at pre-university level for Actuarial Science. An additional plus is that A-Levels is recognized in all foreign universities. Some of the subjects required would be Math, Further Math and Economics. The 4th subject, should you decide to take a fourth, should be a subject that encourages you to think critically. I suggest Physics or Accounting. However, this is purely up to the individual.

2. American Degree Program (ADP)

The ADP offers a twinning with universities from the US with possible transfers to the UK and Australia. Most ADP programs have an area specially designed for the study of actuarial science. For example, INTI College, HELP University College and Taylor's College have specifically designed courses for actuarial science. In addition, these colleges offer partial scholarships to students who perform well in secondary school.

3. South Australian Matriculation (SAM)

SAM is a one-year program designed to create a good foundation for students planning to study in Australia. In the SAM program, there is also a specifically designed course at Taylor's College for students planning to undertake Actuarial Science. The subjects that a student has to take would be :- English Studies, Mathematical Studies, Specialist Mathematics, Economics and Accounting Studies.

Please keep in mind that this is a very broad view of the study of actuarial science. For further information, email us or visit the websites of the local institutions of education! Good luck!

SPM, STPM, US - What do US colleges look for?

This is an excerpt from a handout in my school.

[Competitive U.S. colleges and universities that offer significant financial aid are looking for students who are intelligent and independent, resourceful and motivated; students who have strong values and who get along well with others; students who go beyond what is expected academically, personally, athletically and socially; students who are respected and unique. This section provides a breakdown of where, in your application, admissions officers might be looking for evidence of these qualities.

Numerous factors determine your qualifications for admission to most North American colleges and universities, and no admissions office has the exact same admissions criteria as another. Admissions officers seek individuals who will best fit in their institution. To be sure, most colleges and universities offering full-financial aid are looking for perfect matches, and the enormous rise in applicant pools usually yields such candidates. If you were to ask several admissions officers of prominent U.S. colleges and universities to rank admissions factors in terms of importance and then average the collected results something like the following probably wouldn't surprise anyone:

A) grades,
B) standardized test scores,
C) secondary school attended and difficulty of courses taken,
D) special talents,
E) recommendations
F) personal statement
G) extra-curricular, and in no particular order
H) interviews, international experience, awards, athletic ability, ethnic or religious background
and "legacy".]

One of the factors that most Malaysians are not familiar with is the personal statement. To touch briefly on it, US colleges want to see something that is not apparent from your application. So unless you have something very profound to say, do not write about how many medals you have won, how many competitions you have been to, etc. The best essays focus on something seemingly insignificant and expands it. To find out more, check some online websites that give tips from the experts on acing the personal essay.

Monday, November 07, 2005

SPM, STPM, US - Need help with essays?

To all you secondary school students interested in applying to the US.

Yes, by this time you've probably been through the SAT Reasoning Test.. and are studying your butt off for the SAT Subject Tests. Most of us have been through that crazy period of time where you're cramming brand new facts (in a different language!) into your head.. and at the same time, you're trying your best to write essays which are (you hope) aimed to get you into some of the top unis in the USA.

That's where we come in!

Need peer comments? Help with your focus? Advice on how best to present yourself?

We have a panel of Malaysian university students at universities like Harvard, Yale, Purdue and Northwestern who will give you comments on your essays and a few suggestions as to how to improve your language or your focus. Just drop us a line at tinkosong@gmail.com! We'd be more than happy to help you out.

Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated to the Department of Undergraduate Admissions at any of the aforementioned universities. We do not guarantee you a perfect, admission-sure essay. We are merely a group of university students trying to help out potential freshmen.

SPM, STPM, US - It's not the end...

“Why didn’t JPA and Petronas choose me?!”

Every year, after the scholarship results are out, many students complain of not being able to achieve their dream of studying overseas because they were not awarded those scholarships. But hey, it is NOT the end. Most of the students are not aware that many of the colleges and universities in the US do give out lots of financial aid and scholarships to international students.

For, those who would otherwise not be able to afford it, there are basically two ways to finance your education in the US. First, merit scholarships and the second, need-based financial aid. Merit scholarships are pretty much self-explanatory. However, merit scholarships are rare among the most selective schools like Harvard, Yale, Williams etc. These colleges and universities employ the latter, need-based financial aid. This means that you only pay what you can afford to pay. Need-based financial aid covers everything(yes!), tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses and such. Let’s say the price tag is 40,000USD per year, if your family can only afford to pay 5,000USD, you pay that amount; if you can only afford to pay 10 USD, yeap, 10 USD it is.

Now although many universities award financial aid, the fact is that many universities take into account whether one can pay or not when they admit international students. These universities are need-aware in their admissions. When these universities look to admit you, they consider how much you are able to pay when making their admissions decisions. This is the opposite of need-blind, where the university is rich enough to not consider your ability to pay when they admit you. There are six need-blind colleges/universities that I know of. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Williams and Middlebury. In these six institutions, let’s say you can pay 20 USD and another international student can pay 40,000 USD, you will not be discriminated by that factor. Although the other colleges/universities are need-aware, fortunately, many are rich enough to be generous to international students. Some colleges that are particularly fond of internationals are Carleton, Macalester and Oberlin just to name a few. Just because you haven’t heard of them does not mean they are not good. The education at these colleges is comparable to those at the Ivy League. Don’t make the mistake of only applying to universities that you know and assume all the others are not as good.

About applying, the intake for US colleges is usually in Aug/Sep. But do be aware that the deadline for the most selective colleges is in early Jan. So you need to start early if you want to apply. One should start preparation at least by May/June the year prior to enrollment.

For entrance requirements, SPM is enough but I would recommend a pre-u qualification because it will make you a much stronger candidate. So yes, even STPM students should not lose hope. Studying overseas is still a very real option even if one doesn’t have enough money to do A-Levels in a private college. Opportunities are all out there, one just needs to know where to look and work to get them.

Relevant links
For more information on the application process, read http://tinkosong.blogspot.com/2006/02/yale-university-need-based-need-blind.html by Elizabeth Wong

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Public Unis - Shock and Awe

RM100 Million Down the Drain

A fall in 80 ranking spots and the VC goes "I'm not worried", 60000 graduates unemployed and now this.

While I will admit that the ranking system need not necessarily be legit, it is a problem when a VC says that he is not worried about a fall in the rankings. Though I am not in the country right now, I have been following this extraordinary piece of ongoings closely. Apathy and an easily-satisfied mentality are apparent here. Personally, I think that the VC isn't the only one who is suffering from this mentality but most Malaysian students. If the rankings aren't necessarily legit, I can understand if people say that they do not care. However, the way that they've been advertized and exploited have disgusted me.

UM Turned Into Pasar Malam Site

60000 graduates. Wow. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is, in some way, an example of Burke's theory of The Sublime. Reports from various Malaysian websites such as The Star, New Straits Times and Malaysiakini.com have concluded that some of the reasons why these graduates can't get jobs is due to lack of experience, poor command of the English language and poor communication skills. Among these 3 reasons, I think that the latter is the most worrying. This article from The Star expresses my view concisely.

Graduates Sing The Blues

There are plenty of students who score straight As for examinations. There are plenty of students who average 90% in their school examinations. However, and you must understand that this is personal sentiment, I find that the students that I respect the most are the ones who are able to voice out what they think logically and reasonably. When employers look around for possible employees, they don't just ask for your report card. The link below is about what employers look for when they're headhunting. Rather unsurprisingly, education isn't mentioned anywhere in the top 5 :-


One possible argument that I can see arising is that if what the website says is true, why then do employers favor students from more 'big-name' universities. In my opinion, and anyone is welcome to challenge it, I think that that situation is true because to getting into this kind of universities requires a person to be an all-rounder with a significant level of maturity. Employers know that a person from 'big-name' universities is more likely to be more well-balanced and more of an all-rounder. Hence, it would not be unreasonable to begin headhunting from these universities. (Of course, there are some flukes here and there. Example : Me)