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Friday, January 13, 2006

SPM: A Levels Scholarship in UK

Back in secondary school, people used to ask me where I'm heading next and I'd be the odd one out saying "I'm going to do A-levels at Bosworth College". Not surprisingly I'm faced with clueless faces asking lots of questions.

I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet.

Name of College : Bosworth Independent college (Click here for homepage)

Location: Northampton, UK - Its very town-like, not even close to being like a city. But a comfortable and friendly town.

Process of application : Its advertised in the newspaper at around late Sept-early Oct, or visit their website. Just give them a ring to book a slot for an interview. Bring important documents such as SPM forecast results and your report cards etc. (include also your extracurricular activities)

The "interview": They surprised me with an IQ test! The interview was quite informal just enquiring about the certificates you show them and a few general questions. Nothing technical to test your inteligence or maturity.

Amount of scholarship offered : They said its 100% off school fees and you pay for board and lodging. But you basically pay 12000 pounds for the 18 month course. It includes all tuition fees,accomodation and meals. But what they don't tell you is it doesn't include charges for internet (I don't know if they still charge for it), national exams (for AS-level and A-level), laundry (optional), textbooks (most of us bought second hand from seniors), and 5 pound photostating charges each term (its quite worth it when you see how many past papers they print towards the exams)

The college : It was a great experience. Teaches a lot of independence yet does not throw you out there all alone to fend for yourself. A good transition between secondary school and university abroad. Firstly, I did not live alone as they arranged for all the 10 scholars to leave together. We even had someone from a Malaysian education agency to accompany us right to the door step of the college. All meals were catered, so we did not have to cook but were given the option to because the houses are well equipped with cooking facilities. They had three ptions for accomodation : 'Host family', 'Independent house' or 'halls' (can't remember what they call it). Its pretty obvious what the host family option entails. Independent house is where about 4-6 students share a house with very minimal rules. Halls is where students(usually below the age of 17) stay in single or double rooms. The cooking facilities are more limited and they have wardens thus have stricter curfews. The size of an average class is only about 6-8. Therefore we have pretty close relationships with our teachers. The college does not have an enormous number of students, but has a mixture of students from all backgrounds and nationalities. Vietnamese, Hongk-ies, Chinese, British, and Russians are just a few examples.

Extra curricular activities : To be honest, there's not much of it there (mostly because of the weather). Mainly, it's football. There's a huge field opposite one of the building where most of the sporting activities are held. There are tennis courts, cricket and rugby fields on it. The college also has 'Rounders' (a British sport i think, something like baseball) bats for students to play it on the field. If in-door sports is more of your thing, there are two pool tables available at minimum cost[students tend to find ways to play for free =)]. There's quite a large variety of board games available too.

Help with university applications : They organise a three-week course after AS-level exams to help students with their applications. A few universities will come to the college and give talks about the specific courses, interviews and some insights into what they look for in a student. The college also organises a small university fair for the students to enquire about universities in the comfort of their college. Normally this is where students collect university prospectus and obtain as much information as possible about the universities. Apart from this, they also organise trips to university open days (but they charge for transportation). Other more interesting stuff like team building activities, rounders, yoga and other random things they think of are also held in parallel with the 'university stuff'. Each student is also allocated a personal tutor, whom which helps the students with their personal statement. The college also arrange a couple of mock-interviews for students before the real thing.

Best thing about the college : The staff at college are really friendly. The whole atmosphere in the college is very relaxed. Teachers, even the principal are very approachable. They are willing to give extra help whenever needed as long as you ask for it.

I can't think of much that I don't like about the college other than the fact that they try to squeeze money out of students whenever possible.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience of learning, maturing and embracing independence. Something than i wouldn't change even if i had the chance to.

by Tang Ming Wei

Tang Ming Wei is currently studying dentistry at the University of Manchester. She loves the course and the city. She is a former student of SMK Damansara Jaya and completed her A-Levels at Bosworth Independent College, Northampton, UK last August.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

12000 pounds for A-levels?

Seriously, you can spend a fraction of that figure and still get the necessary As to enter top british universities.

12:46 PM

Blogger enghan said...

I agree that you can do A-Levels or IB anywhere and still get good grades, but I think that it's the experience that counts.

5:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not dispute that you get one heck of an experience, however making one's parents to pay such fees is kind of objectionable unless one has a big fat bank account or is sponsored by a body.

Speaking about experience, I would say the real one actually comes when one is in university. The one in a sixth form college would still be an experience similar to high school minus certain rules.

12:44 AM

Blogger enghan said...

I think the price is abit out of reach for your average Malaysian but the scholarship does make a difference for some people who would not send their children overseas for A-Levels otherwise.

Speaking bout experience, there is no 'right' time. I found my experience in the UWC very much life-changing and different compared to my primary and secondary schools.

1:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like there isn't a scholarship after all. One still need to pay 12k pounds.

Of course it is different, IB and SPM are worlds apart. A-levels and SPM are like step brothers so the learning part would be somewhat the same. One only gets experiences typical of living in a foreign land.

4:26 PM

Blogger enghan said...

For me, the classroom experience isn't what I would call my UWC experience. It is what happens after classes. the IB is only a miniscule part of the experience.

Email me if you still wish to continue this conversation and we can do it outside of the comments box.

7:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,
Although you are somewhat right in saying that the Alevels restricts one's scope of education, in that it's entirely exam based, I'd say that getting an entirely holistic learning experience depends partly on the initiative of the individual and majorly, on the facilities provided in one's institution. I doubt studying abroad makes any difference if one is adverse to cultural understanding, and active participation in the student community. I'm fortunate in a sense that my College(KYUEM), offers students a good balance of the academics and strong youth programmes, the highly acclaimed Duke of Edinburgh award being an apt example, in which a good majority of us are involved. One just needs to make an initiative to get involved.

Jollivet Ng.

12:40 PM

Blogger nakedwriter said...

Hey there, Eng Han... i'm applying for IB with UWC too. Can you just tell me what does the scholarship cover and whether we have to foot out a lot for living costs? Their website don't really provide this information. Thank you

5:24 PM

Blogger enghan said...

Hey, I was planning on putting up an article about the UWC very very soon. We appreciate your patience.

1:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remembered when i finished SPM five years ago, I sent out almost 30 application letters to different organisation to seek for scholarship. Some are application letters, the rest are enquiry about possible sponsorship from MNCs. I guess my desperation, or rather my curiousity to see the world beyond Malaysia motivated me to do that.
Few letters came back, one of them were Bosworth College.

Bosworth college, through a local education center (representative of somekind) decided to sponsor me a tuiton-fee waiver A-levels. Despite being very excited then, my father felt that it was not worth it as money spent on living expenses would have cost a bomb for an average family like mine.

I flirted with the idea of doing a twinning, but i told myself that i wanted a proper twinning course that allowd me to have the exposure in a proper good universities. We know better that most twinning programes in Malaysia are twined with those "wild-chicken uni", as the chinese puts it. Yet, after alot of consideration, i had to put off my dreams of going to bosworth or doing a twinning ( my option was a twin in inti then to adelaide, i believe it was a the good ones then). So off i go to MMU.

My burning desire to go oversea didn't die out. So in my university time in Malaysia. I applied for different programes, and it allowed me to travel to different places for conferences and events, amongst them Switzerland,Norway and Singapore.And the best thing is, they are all fully paid for, either by the organizers or by my uni. The point is, even though i studied locally, i don't think i m in anyway less exposed. I also feel that its the attitude that matters, cause friends whom i know that went oversea just clicked with their gang, so its basically almost like the malaysian environment, except that in overseas, most of them speak english. Locally, many undergrads turn to their mother-tongue or dialects, but i also wan to say that in MMU, degree education in english provided us a good grounding.

The point is, whether u r : overseas, local, private or public. There are always opportunities abundance, just learn to look closer, and try knocking on more doors, even though they might seen to be unwelcoming.You might be surprised what you wil get.

7:57 PM

Blogger lone90 said...

August 22nd

I could only find the admission form in the official website but not the scholarship application form. Just wandering if anybody here knows how to apply for the scholarship before it is published in the newspaper? Or must I patiently wait till it gets published.

All gestures of goodwill are much appreciated. Thank you.

8:06 PM


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