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, February 28, 2006

The Japanese Government Scholarships (Monbukagakusho Scholarships)

There are many scholarships offered to students from all over the world under the Japanese Government’s policy to increase the number of foreign students in Japan. Up till last year (2005), there has been a total of 121,812 foreign students studying in Japan, Out of the total, 9,891 students are sponsored by Japanese government, 1,903 students are sponsored by own countries and the rest are private students(110,018). The top 5 countries represented in terms of the number of students are China (80,592), Korea (15,606), Taiwan (4,134), Malaysia (2,114), and Vietnam (1,745).

There are many kinds of Monbusho scholarships, but I will only talk about the undergraduate one here. Since I will talk about my experience, there may have been some changes recently regarding the application process.

I was a Form 6 (upper 6 on year 2003) student in Chung Ling High School in Penang. In March 2003, I sent in my application form for the year 2004 scholarship. I chose natural science A, and the courses that I selected were Physics, Mathematics, and mechanical engineering. A few weeks later, I received a letter informing me to sit for the UNDERGRADUATE WRITTEN EXAMINATION in May 2003.

On that day, there are 5 exam papers (For current info about the exams, please refer to the scholarship website): ENGLISH LANGUAGE, MATHEMATICS B, CHEMISTRY, PHYSICS, JAPANESE LANGUAGE. There was a lunch break (lunch is not provided) in the middle and the Japanese Language test (3 hours) was given only for reference. You can leave the papers after filling our particulars on the answer sheets. Also, you are not allowed to bring in your calculator during the examinations.

After around a month, I received a letter informing me that I had been selected to attend an interview at the Japan Information Service, Embassy of Japan in mid-July 2003. During the interview, there were 3 people each from First secretary of the Embassy of Japan, Public Services Department and Ministry of Education. What I did was I tried to impress the interviewers by showing my interest in learning a new language, learning about cultures in Japan, etc. During the interview, they will ask why you chose Japan but not other countries like US, UK, etc. Also, they will also ask about the reasons you chose your particular major, what you want to do in the future, how you want to help develop Malaysia with the skills you will acquire in Japan, what you know about Japan, etc. If you are short listed after that interview, you will receive another letter in 1 or 2 weeks telling you that you have been nominated for the scholarship and asking you to submit a health certificate. The deadline for it is shortly after that, so please be prepared if you had been selected for the interview.

After submitting the Health Certificate, you have to wait until the next year.

In Feb 2004, I received a letter informing me that I was selected to pursue my studies in Japan. (Around 4 students will be selected for it) Then, I wrote a letter of acceptance, signed the PLEDGE and submitted them to the embassy.

Depending on your course, you will have Japanese language studies for the first year in either Osaka University of Foreign Studies or Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Don’t worry about feeling lost or lonely because there will be seniors welcoming you on your 1st day in Japan. (You will meet me if you were chosen to Osaka)

Terms of the scholarship
Believe it or not, there is no bond for this scholarship! Also you will get one return ticket to Japan for the duration of your course and also 135,000 yen per month as allowance.

Now, I would like to talk about the academics there.

In the language school, there are 2 semesters: spring and autumn. For the 1st semester, you will learn grammar, listening, writing, comprehension, Chinese character (kanji), and things about Japan. For the science stream, physics, mathematics, chemistry will be taught while for the arts stream, history, economics, and mathematics will be taught.

There will be a trial exam (1) in June, summer holiday in August, 1st semester exam (2) in September, 1st exam (3) in 2nd semester in November, winter holiday in December and a final exam (4) in Feb the next year. There are 10 papers (9 subjects stated above + speech in Japanese) in each exam. Among them, the most important one is in November. Based on your results for the (1), (2), (3) exams, you can select up to 6 universities for the next year’s spring admission. Of course students with excellent results can choose universities in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, but students with average results will not have a chance to go there. (There are more than 500 universities in Japan)

After making your 6 choices, you can return to Malaysia to tell your family and friends about your experience in Japan. One week after you return to Japan, you will find out which university accepted you and depending on the university, you might have to attend an interview or sit for an entrance examination. Usually, only Kyoto University will ask you to sit for the entrance examination. The purpose of the interview is to make sure of who you are, and to find out more about you. They won’t normally fail you. But for the entrance examination, it is really DANGEROUS! If you fail the exam, you will have to go to a 2nd class university in Japan.

I think that’s all that is required to know apply for the scholarship. You can contact me through siangnet at hotmail dot com if you are still unclear about what I have said.

For more detailed information about my life in Japan, read my next article, Life in Japan.

by Khaw Kim Siang

Khaw Kim Siang is currently studying science in Kyoto University. His main interests are in physics, mathematics, history, languages, music, traveling, movies, and games. He also enjoys visiting universities and has visited numerous universities in Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Korea. In Kyoto Uni, he is actively involved in the Committee of Science Faculty, and Committee of Kyoto International Student House. He is also a member of MSAJ (Malaysian Student Association of Japan).

Relevant Links


Go East Young Man at http://educationmalaysia.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Yale University - Need Based, Need Blind

After SPM in 2002, I decided to do A Levels in a local private college. I started in January 2003. I did the A Levels partly because it was in English, and also partly because the January intake finished in June. If I had done other preuniversity programs (STPM, SAM or AUSMAT), I would have finished in November- leaving a eight-month break between Pre-U and university (as most US and UK universities start in September). For this same reason, I turned down the ASEAN scholarship.

When SPM results came out, like the other 12 000 applicants, I applied for a number of scholarships - Petronas and JPA. But, thanks to my B4 in Malay Language, I knew that my chances of getting a scholarship were slim, so I started looking at other options.

I had always been very interested in studying in US universities because the choice of classes isn't as limited. For example, I'm a second-year and majoring in Geology, but take a look at my classes: The Birth of Europe, Mineral Deposits, Introduction to Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, Daily Themes, Introduction to Macroeconomics. When I found out that US universities offered financial aid upon admission, I was instantly interested, and did more research on the application process for US universities.

The application process is incredibly confusing -- even for US applicants! It was initially confusing to find out that I was applying for the Class of 2008, not 2004. 2008 stands for the date of graduation, not the entering date. Also, the terms 'college' and 'university' are used interchangably.

In May 2003, I sat for the SATs. My other friends studied for the SATs by memorizing wordlists, but I was lazy (and had other things to do than to memorize 3000 words!), so my only preparation was doing the 10 Real SATs (very important! must do!) which can be found in most bookstores.

I went to each college's website and requested a prospectus from them (usually by filling up a form online). I got a better sense of what the colleges were like, and what I wanted out of my undergraduate education: A school that has relatively small classes and not too technical -- though I would majoring in Geology, I love taking a lot of classes in English.

I started asking teachers for teacher recommendations (you need two teacher recommendations). For teacher recommendations, I gave the teachers a list of any related accomplishments -- emphasizing aspects that would show character, dedication and interest. For example, instead of bringing up my results in the National Physics Olympiad (that is offered by most national schools), I brought up my interest in English, mentioning that I was the only candidate in my school for SPM Literature in English, as well as the trip I had organized to the Star newspaper headquarters and my role in the class newspaper for NIE etc etc etc (you yourself know what you are best in).

I also gotten ready my School Report and any transcripts, as well as preparing translations myself (and got it certified by the director of A Levels).

For the application essays, I did a lot of soul searching. What was I good in? What was my niche, my 'hook'? What could I offer the school? What can the school offer me? All these questions played in my mind as I wrote my application essays. For my main application essay (I sent this to all the schools), I wrote about something that I really cared about (and spent 10 hours a week on) -- running (To read my application essay, get this book: Livin' It found in all MPH bookstores for RM 19.90).

Though not required, I also sent in a resume and cover letter to each school, to make my application more complete, and to emphasize my involvement in running (which I felt that the standard application form didn't give me enough space to write about). To admission officers, it's the achievements in running that are important, but rather, the time and the effort that I had put into it. People have asked me whether I sent in extra stuff, like certificates and all that. Most schools do NOT encourage you to send in certificates, so don't. Unless it's incredibly exceptional.

In October 2003, I sat for SAT IIs. (I also did the TOEFL, but only one of my schools really required it - so I regretted paying RM 400 to do the TOEFL since it wasn't really that necessary)

I also had to complete my financial aid application, which was due at the same time as college applications.

I only applied to need-based schools. ALL need-based schools will definitely offer you financial aid if you are admitted: these include liberal art colleges (LACs) and several universities. The amount of financial aid that you recieve depends on your parents' income and assets; you can get anywhere from FULL financial aid (tuition, room, board, everything) to nothing. Recently, Yale revamped their financial aid policy: barring special circumstances, if your parents earn less than $45 000 per year (or RM 14,250 per month), you are eligible for a full financial aid package. Harvard has a similar (but slightly less generous) policy.

Financial aid is made up of a combination of loans, campus-work and scholarship (which doesn't have to be paid back, and is not bond-based). Yale requires their students to have $4200 of loans and work, and the rest is scholarship. Schools differ in financial aid policies - so check with individual schools.

In most need-based schools however, your chances of admission might be jeopardized if you apply for financial aid. But there are some need-based schools that state that a financial aid applicant is considered on the same grounds as a non-financial-aid applicant. These schools are called need-blind schools. There are only six need-blind schools for international students: among them Yale, Harvard, Princeton and MIT (Some schools are need-blind, but, if you read the fine print, they are need blind only for US citizens and permanent residents, not for international students).

In all, I applied to nine schools. I sent in my applications online and by mail (admission officers are used to getting all the parts of your applications at different times, in different envelopes) by January 1st of that year.

Somewhere in February, I was contacted for interviews by the alumni (everyone who applies gets an interview; you aren't shortlisted for it). I think that I was probably the worst interviewee in history (my Harvard interview only lasted 20 minutes because I was tongue-tied, scared and frightened), so I won't attempt to give any tips. But you should read this Yale newsletter for alumni interviewers for an inside look on how your interview is evaluated.

I was informed of their admission decisions on April 1st. I was accepted to several colleges, and I'm now attending Yale!

After reading this, if you have any other questions, email me at lyzzie at gmail dot com! Also, read inkyhands.

by Elizabeth Wong

Elizabeth is a sophomore at Yale University. She is originally from KL and studied in SMK Damansara Utama. She is majoring in Geology and Geophysics, is very interested in English and writing and runs. She is going to Puerto Rico with Joyce for spring break.

Relevant Links

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jardine Scholarship

If you think Cambridge or Oxford is too costly for you, think again.

The Jardine Foundation Scholarship offers full scholarships for first degree courses in selected Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge, which are :
a) Oxford – Exeter, Oriel, Queen’s and Trinity
b) Cambridge – Downing, Magdalene and Trinity

You can apply for any courses (except Clinical Medicine) provided that you apply to the selected Colleges. The scholarship provides for the full University fees, College fees and maintenance fees (roughly 7000 quid for 2005-2006), as well as an economy class plane ticket at the start and end of your course.

To be eligible, you have to apply to the selected Cambridge or Oxford colleges in the first instance.

In Malaysia, the advertisement for the scholarship appears around August, usually in The Star newspaper. The deadline for the scholarship is usually around October, with the interviews taking place in November or December.

With your application, you have to submit documents, proofing that you have applied to either Cambridge or Oxford. Following that, you will be called for an interview. More information on the application can be found on www.jardine-foundation.org

The first round interview is usually a one-on-one interview. During this interview, you will be asked to describe yourself. Basically, you need to sell yourself during this interview but do not boast. Most applicants are rejected at this stage, so it is important to perform well. It also helps if you read up a little on the company and what they do.

If you’re successful in the first interview, you will then be called for a second interview. There are usually around 6-8 applicants in this round and it is a two-on-one interview. Again, sell yourself but there are other topics of discussion which varies widely.

Following a successful second round interview, you will attend the final round interview in Hong Kong in early January. They will pay for your air travel and put you up in Hotel Excelsior (owned by them) in Causeway Bay, which is a shopping heaven.

On the second day, you will make your way to Jardine House in Central district and have your interviews there. There are usually candidates from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Hong Kong, with 1-2 candidates from each country and 3-4 candidates from Hong Kong itself.

Firstly, you will need to write an essay on a given topic within 45 minutes. Then, you will have your final round interview. The interview consists of 6-7 members, consisting of the Masters of various Cambridge and Oxford colleges and senior members of the Jardine Scholarship committee. It can seem daunting facing so many people at once but you’re already this far in the process, so give it your best shot.

After the interview, you will have a sit-down lunch with your interviewers. It can seem pressuring as if you’re being screened but rest assured that they all just want to get to know you better on a personal level and also have their lunch.

Then, you’re free to roam Hong Kong on your own before your flight home the next day. Such bliss…

You will hear of the results in the next 2-3 days. They make their mind up pretty quickly. Every year, they give about 5 scholarships. However, just because you’re the only candidate from a particular country doesn’t mean you will automatically get it. There was no successful Malaysian applicant from 2002-2004 despite being the sole Malaysian applicant. For the year of 2006, there were 3 Malaysian applicants sent to Hong Kong and 2 of them were successful.

A few days after you hear from Jardine, you will get your reply from your Cambridge or Oxford colleges, informing you whether you have been accepted or not. Usually, if you are sent to Hong Kong for the final interview, you have already been accepted by your college, as the Jardine Committee calls up the Colleges to check beforehand. However, this is not full proof and there have been incidents when this has not been the case. As a result, despite being successful in the interview, you will be rejected as you have not been accepted into a College which is the first criteria. Remember, the Scholarship does not come together with a College acceptance. They have to be earned individually.

The best thing about this scholarship is that it is bond free. Not many scholarships can lay claim to that. As for benefits, what I love about Jardine is that they actually take the time to know us on a personal level. Every year, we have a welcome dinner at a nice hotel in the first term, a Christmas lunch in their main office in London and a Chinese New Year dinner in the second term. All the Jardine scholars, the Masters of Colleges and the senior committee members come together to eat and chat in a very informal manner. They take time to know us better and are always keen to know what you are up to. Even though I am no longer under their scholarship, I am still invited back for all their functions in Cambridge.

One more thing about this Scholarship is that it is not need-blind. It is based totally on merit, ie how good or outstanding you are. They do not take into account your financial status when you’re applying which can be ideal for some people or not depending on your circumstances.

I hope I have covered enough details and fuel your interest in applying for a Jardine Scholarship.

by Lim Ming Yeong

Ming Yeong was a Jardine Scholar from 2001-2004, studying pre-clinical medicine at Magdalene College, Cambridge University. She is now a final year clinical student at Cambridge.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Telekom Scholarship

I just would like to give you a brief description about Telekom Sponsorship Program.

I think it could be one of the Sponsorship program in Malaysia that is the least rigorous in its selection process. But please don't assume that it doesn't come with a huge price. Standard rule for the bond is, 'For every year they sponsor a student, the student would have to repay back by working with the firm for 2 years.' So technically, a 10-year bond is the usual case.

Let me just briefly explain to all young Malaysians how the selection process works.

Selection Process:

Preliminary Round:
Complete a long-winded application form. Students can obtain the form from the Telekom Headquarters. Well, i'm gonna spare you the details as your SPM results have to stand out from the rest of the applicants. (typically > 8As, unconfirmed) A screening process will take place as soon as the deadline is over. Lucky individuals will be invited for the first round of interview.

First Round - Usually with a HR officer from Telekom together with 2 other candidate. This is like a pre-filter and hence it really boils down to your personality, communication skills and various other attributes.

Second Round - A Panel interwiew with 3 officers from Telekom. Of course, the HR director would be there with two of his subordinates. Questions asked in the interview can range from General knowledge down to very specific details about your interest in the course that you intend to do.

Third Round
Aptitude Test - Well, i really have no idea about the passing mark nor the total no. of questions for the test. Just do as many as you can and hope that you get them right.

And if you do make it through the process, well done! You will then be sent to one of the local colleges to do your pre-U. This will be the place where you found out that things has started to get tougher.

This is where you will get your first restriction from the sponsorship program. You could only apply to the universities that Telekom says you should go to (a very short list) be it UK, France, Germany or Australia.

That is not the only restriction, scholars who were offered the sponsorship scheme will have to do very well in their exams in A-levels. They have to obtain 3/4As if they wish to secure their oversea sponsorship. Otherwise, they would have to do their undergraduate studies locally (in MMU, i presumed.)

Finally, if you do make it through the pre-U, be sure that you demonstrate strong records of academic excellence in the University that you will be attending. Basically, you have to get First Class every year (for UK standard). Otherwise, poof... of you return to Malaysia for the following academic year to continue your studies in MMU. Sounds harsh? Well, it was never meant to be easy in the first place.

That was what i have gathered recently from a conference that i have attended 5 months ago at Kuala Lumpur. From what i see, the terms in Telekom Sponsorship Program could be as tough as A*STAR Scholarship from Singapore.

Now, let me tell you about the sponsorship scheme.

1) Tuition fees will be fully covered
2) Allowance will be given every 3 month to the students to cover their accommodation and food expenses.
3) Book and electrical appliances allowance per year.
4) Two return flights for the whole course including your initial flight for your first academic year and the final one where you supposed to report to them after your graduation!

It was generally a norm that Telekom only sponsors students to do Engineering and Computer Science course. Lately however, I have seen them accepting students who wanted to do Law or Economics. Sounds like a good change.

Should there be any more queries, please do not hesitate to write to me at
chiyip at time dot net dot my

by Adrian Seow

Adrian Seow is a Telekom Scholar in Cambridge.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Raleigh International Introduction Weekend 24-26 March 2006

Discovering a Whole New World and yourself with Raleigh International

Time to change your perspective? Pump in some renewed sense of purpose into your otherwise mundane life! Raleigh International KL Introduction Weekend is back to recruit volunteers for upcoming Sabah expeditions in 2006 and 2007.

Raleigh International is a UK-based youth development charity which aims to inspire people from all backgrounds and nationalities to discover their full potential by working together on challenging environmental and community projects around the world. Since 1978, Raleigh International have touched the lives of over 28000 youths worldwide in expedition countries as diverse as Chile, Costa Rica & Nicaragua, Ghana, Namibia and Malaysia (Sabah).

Expedition volunteers, or Venturers as they are called, will join youths from other countries around the world to work on a three-phase project which will involve community development, adventure and eco-tourism. Each Raleigh International expedition is a personal development opportunity for every volunteer, allowing them to learn team working, leadership skills and gain an insight into their individual strengths and weaknesses. Are you are keen to be part of this life changing experience and do you have what it takes?

To qualify for an expedition, first you need to attend the Introduction Weekend from 24-26 March 2006. If you want to find out what it takes to be on a full-fledged expedition, then you should register now! The only requirements are that participants need to be between 17 – 25 years of age and able to swim 200 meters. Participation fee is RM 30, which covers food, accommodation and transportation.

For more details:

Contact : James Wong, RIKL Intro Weekend Officer

Tel : 012-3232297

E-mail : introweek at raleighinternational[dot]org[dot]my

Friday, February 10, 2006

Interviews: Interview Tip 2

2. Other First Impressions

There's one thing that interviewers usually look out for and that's your handshake. By shaking your hand, the interviewer can make a decent guess about your character. A firm handshake, with a good grip, denotes confidence while a weak handshake denotes the opposite (of course). But, I'd advise not to overdo it. Firm handshake, but no longer than about 2-3 seconds. If not, you might seem a bit overzealous. So, yeah, handshakes do count and are a pretty good indicator of your confidence level.

Another thing that most people tend to overlook is your walking style. Do you timidly trotter into the room (check out the alliteration - haha), march military style into the room or stride into the room? A good walk, positive, head up and facing the world is usually a good sign. Slouching, dragging your feet, and a very slow walk won't be much good. The cliche term "Keep your head up" is a really useful term though. So, stride into the room, all guns blazing, head up and give your interviewer a firm handshake. Show him or her that you mean business.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Creative Thinking Summer School

I would like to recommend this program to all of you out there between the ages of 15-18: the Creative Thinking Summer School organized by Trinity College, University of Melbourne. For your information, there are two summer schools namely the Creative Thinking Summer School as well as the Science Summer School. The Trinity College Creative Thinking Mid year and Summer schools are intensive courses for Australian and overseas students designed to give them an intellectual and social edge for their final years of schooling while also providing an introduction to University of Melbourne courses in a range of disciplines. The Schools are designed to assist academically able students in the transition to senior secondary with an emphasis upon creative pedagogical approaches to many academic disciplines. The Trinity College Creative Thinking Schools are therefore suitable for students aiming for either a Science or Humanities focus in their final years of schooling. Features of the Summer Schools include:

o The Reason! Method for improving thinking skills
o Successful learning techniques for senior secondary school years
o Problem-solving and planning skills
o Fun techniques for improving communication

Students will study four modules:
o International Relations
o Cultural Narratives
o Dramatic Narratives
o Global Issues – Environmental Management

There will be five units of choices where students could choose according to their interests. The choices are:

1. Problem-solving mathematics
2. Advertising and persuasion
3. The economic market and globalization
4. Endangered species
5. Creative Writing

This is a brief idea of how’s the summer school like. The program is typically conducted around early December to mid December. For those who are interested in this program, the college will provide some financial assistance ranging from partial scholarships to a full one.

Scholarships provided by Trinity College:

1. A Part Scholarship Award recudes the standard fees for both the Creative Thinking Summer School ( CTSS) and Science Summer School (SSS) to AU$1600 (The CTSS part scholarship Award reduces the standard CTSS fee - AU$2300 TO AU$1600. and the SSS part scholarship award reduces the standard SSS fee - AU$2600 to AU$1600).

2. A full scholarship award pays for all accomodation and program costs for students attending either Summer School ( The CTSS full scholarship award covers the standard CTSS fee of AU$2300, and the SSS full scholarship award covers the standard SSS fee of AU$2600)...air fares to Australia and costs of personal needs are not covered by the scholarships.

For more scholarship details, one should visit their nearest IDP EDUCATION
Australia for further information.

I myself am a full scholarship recipient and everything is taken care of by the college except my flight ticket to Melbourne. If you have any inquiries about this program, do visit this website: Trinity Summer Schools or email me at awesome_ming[at]hotmaildotcom. I highly recommend this program to those who are in their senior secondary school years (form 4 & form 5) to attend this summer school as it is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity that you would not want to miss. Through this summer school, I had a better idea of the education system in Australia and the opportunities that are available for overseas students for their higher education. Apart from that, you will have the chance to foster friendships around the world and make lots of international friends from India, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand as well as Kenya that you will cherish in your life time.

by Teh Hui Ming

Teh Hui Ming is a Form 5 science student at Penang Chinese Girls' High school. She attended the Creative Thinking Summer School in Dec 2005.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Interviews: Interview Tip #1

This will be the first of a series of 10 Interview Tips, in light of the upcoming interviews for scholarships and application for universities.

1. Dress well

Clothes give the most important “first impression” that you present; therefore, it is all-important to look smart and presentable. And by that, I don’t mean dress as if you were to go clubbing. These interviewers will usually work in an office environment, and they will be used to being surrounded by people dressed in smart blouses or dress shirts. You will not make a good impression if you show up in your faded and torn, super-super-low Levi’s. For girls, knee-length skirts or dark trousers with covered-toe shoes and a loosely fitting button down shirt would be the best bet. Baju kurung would also be a good option, as most offices in Malaysia encourage their employees to wear the traditional Malay garb; however, don’t go all out and wear your special, once-a-year-only baju kurung kerawang with gold trimming. Simple clothes work best. For guys, it’s relatively easy. A nice dress shirt with trousers and black shoes, and a tie if you’re feeling particularly spiffy. Also be conscious of your entire appearance. Too-long, unkempt hair or too many facial piercings may be distracting to an interviewer.