Hey Hwa Chong!


Worried about university applications or just simply have no idea where to start? Fret not, because this article is just for you! Working closely with the ECG Unit, we’ve compiled this beginner’s guide to help you get started!


First of all, here are some tips to get started for university applications:

  1. Start your research early! (Attend fairs, speak to seniors, book consults with counsellors, ask well thought out questions during university talks).
  2. Find out whether your desired course requires any admissions tests. Take note of the test dates and registration deadlines. Most admissions tests require students to register directly.
  3. Start writing or brainstorming for your application essay/personal statement if your university requires one.
  4. Take part in activities such as internships to explore your interests.
  5. Read iEMB often! Scholarship updates, application updates and event information are all posted there.


We gathered a few frequently asked questions to help you get them answered by the ECG Unit:


Q: Should I consider getting a scholarship?

A: You should ask yourself whether you NEED the scholarship (e.g. for financial aid) and whether you WANT the scholarship (e.g. for job security).


There are generally two types of scholarships: scholarships that come with a bond which are usually given out by a government or private organisation, and bond-free scholarships offered mostly by local / overseas universities. For the former, you should really consider your career aspiration and treat the scholarship application as if it is a job application. Do spend some time to research on the job opportunities offered by the organisation to affirm if a career at the organisation is aligned with your own interests and values.


If you are still unsure of your career choices at the end of JC2, you can consider the bond-free scholarships which will provide you with financial aid. At the same time, you will have more time to explore your career options. Many scholarships are offered by the local universities and some of them come with overseas exchange opportunities.


There are also certain bond-free scholarships that are tenable for study at overseas universities such as Jardine scholarship or The Loke Cheng-Kim Foundation. Scholarships given out by overseas universities are also available but these are usually very competitive.


Q: Should I study locally or overseas?

A: Here are some guiding questions:

  • What goals do you have for your tertiary education? Which country can help you best in achieving these goals?
  • Is your course offered in Singapore?


Attend the Overseas Undergraduate Alumni Forum on 26th July 2017 to speak to seniors enrolled in universities overseas. Ask them about the culture of their university, profile of their professors and favourite eateries on and around campus. To speak to seniors in local universities, attend the ECG fair on 4th August 2017. Faculty members, admissions representatives and alumni from a wide range of faculties will be present. Attend our career forums and talks to hear from alumni or speakers in the industry about their experiences. More details will be posted on iEMB so do check it often.


Q: What are the different admission options (such as early decision, early action, rolling admissions etc) and when should I choose them?

A: Come to our US 101 talk to find out more! Briefly, Early Decision, Early Action and Rolling Admissions are offered by US institutions. They have an earlier deadline and usually students who apply in this round are well prepared and have been doing their research religiously. If you are considering US and UK universities it is extremely important to start early. The UK 101 talk is held on 13th February and a repeat session is held on 28th February. The US 101 talk is held on 17th February and a repeat session is held on 2nd March.


Q: How can I find out which university offers the best experience for my desired course?

A: Speak to seniors who go there and compare your notes. Usually the school you go to is “the best school ever” so yes, do speak to seniors to learn about their experience and school culture but also speak to ECG counsellors, university representatives and other seniors from other schools to compare between schools. Like many things in life, we need to go through the experience and reflect if the choice we made is a good one. So, what you can do now is to minimize the risk of making a bad decision.


Q: What are some key considerations when choosing between universities?

A: Size, Location, Budget, Teaching Style, Faculty Members, Internship Opportunities, Exchange programs just to name a few. We have a whole list of questions you can refer to and it’s on our googlesite under “Higher Education”. Our googlesite address can be accessed here.


Q: I have NS to complete, do I apply for university now or while in NS?

A: It depends on where you are applying to as UK, US and Singapore have different policies on deferring offers for students. Students applying to UK universities apply 1 year into NS. PSC applicants who might get NS deferment can apply for UK universities in their J2 year. Students applying to US universities can apply in their J2 year as many US universities hold places for our students. But since there are some that don’t, it is best to check with the university representatives when they visit our school or email them to clarify if they hold places. UC Berkeley does not hold places. Make an appointment with an ECG counsellor and we will provide you with more advice based on the course and country you are applying for.


As for scholarships, it is advisable to apply for both scholarship and university concurrently as most scholarship boards would ask for your university choices during the scholarship application. Most scholarship boards would allow the male scholars to depart for studies after NS but it will be good to confirm this with the scholarship board before you take up the scholarship.


If you have done your research and you are well prepared for the scholarship application, you can choose to apply for the scholarship after your A-level examination. Having a scholarship can sometimes help in your university application since you will have the financial support. However, if you need more time to explore your career options, then it is advisable to apply for a scholarship while you are in NS. In fact, some organisations find male applicants more mature after NS and have more experience to share.


Did you know that you can book a consult slot on the ECG googlesite? The available slots are there and all you need to do is to click a suitable date and time.


Here are some other cool features that the ECG Unit offers:

  • Career talks and forums featuring various industries and careers.
  • US admissions officers who read university applications visit our school each year and the ECG Unit usually hosts approximately 120 visitors. So read iEMB often and sign up for the talks to be enlightened!
  • You can read your seniors’ US essays and Oxbridge personal statements in the ECG Room.
  • You can also use the space in the room to read the university brochures and practise for your admissions tests.


Lastly, we’ll leave you with some words of advice from Ms Ong Doo Guat, ECG Counsellor of the ECG Unit:

“See the future you want to see but develop your own road maps along the way. Learn to embrace the uncertainties, challenges, obstacles, successes and failures. Goals are important but so are your experiences – for what is life but a summation of all the experiences, good or bad.”


Wishing you all the best for your future endeavours! 🙂
Special thanks to Ms Junita and the Leadership Unit for their help in this article. For more information, please do check out the ECG website at http://tinyurl.com/hciecg

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