I was at the US University Fair here in downtown Penang earlier this week longer than I planned, for a good 2 hours. Crowds of enthusiastic youngsters thronged the 32 booths of participating American universities and colleges with all kinds of enquiries and questions. It was heartening to witness Penang folks finally taking buoyant interest in the US further education pathway. To me, that was long time coming.
Throughout the visit, one hot item kept popping up – scholarships. Why not? Of the number of schools that I had shortlisted and managed to actually check out, their scholarship programs are indeed generous, and kind. Undergraduate tuition and fees for international students range around 30,000 USD per year and scholarships would on the average cover half of that sum, a hefty amount by Penang standards.
Although some schools evaluate financial need, scholarships for the first year are for the most part based on academic records and test scores. The requirements for academic records to be eligible for scholarship considerations are generally very achievable (B+) and the scholarships are reasonably renewable annually based on continued academic performance. For scholarship test scores, SAT proficiency is the norm. It is a key criterion even by schools for which the SAT test is not an admission requirement.
The emphasis on academic grades is a way of life for us here anyway, especially among scholar-grade students so that settles the first part. In regards to SAT Penang students will presumably face a relatively bigger challenge. But fret not, the truth is SAT is inherently formulaic and repetitive – actually made for our kind of educational upbringing if you are able to be savvy with it.
A few neat tweaks to our prep style for the conventional exams that we are accustomed to will handily get the job done: put on a SAT thinking cap, get proper specialized SAT coaching and clock in the practice – SAT style. Of course, that’s easier said than done but one thing’s for sure – having students strive for scholarships will beat having their parents break the bank to fund their US college education any day.