Tips & Resources

Should I Choose A Local Or Overseas Scholarship?

December 23, 2019

Local and overseas scholarships offer different opportunities and experiences that should be taken into consideration when making your choice.

Most scholarship providers offer both local and overseas scholarships that you can choose from. It can be a difficult choice, because in truth no one option is better than the other. Local universities can give you a strong foundation that will help you excel in your career, and it’s entirely possible to receive a world class education right here in Singapore. National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) tied for top university ranking in Asia in an annual global ranking of universities that is read by educational institutions and governments; on the global rankings, the two universities are both placed 11th.

Whether a local or overseas scholarship is a better fit depends on what you want out of your university experience and what you’re personally comfortable with. Here are some of the things you want to consider.

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Attending university overseas is the ideal choice if you’re keen on the exposure to foreign education and cultures. Interacting with students from diverse backgrounds while immersing yourself in a different culture will be an eye-opening experience that helps you see beyond what we’re comfortable with in Singapore, expanding your world view by leaps and bounds.

Of course, this comes with having to adjust to an unfamiliar environment and being away from your friends and family for long stretches. Having to settle down without a strong support system can be daunting to some. It’s an experience you’ll come out of stronger and more mature, but it admittedly is not for everyone.

For those who place greater emphasis on being close to your loved ones, consider other options that will give you this same exposure without having to be separated from friends and family for too long. Going with a local scholarship and signing up for overseas exchange programmes is one such way to do this.

Course Content

Are there any significant differences in the curriculum that you will study in a local university as compared to an overseas one? There are some courses that might only be available in a specific university, and others that might give you the opportunity to study under a professor that you hold in high regard. Obviously, these are all things you want to consider when making your decision – while not forgetting to be realistic in your expectations. For example, you’re not guaranteed to be assigned to the professor of your choice, so basing your entire choice on that single expectation is not prudent.

Length Of Your Bond

Unless you’re applying for one of the bond-free scholarships, both local and overseas scholarships will require you to serve out a bond after your studies. It’s important to factor this into your decision-making process. The typical four-year bond period of a local scholarship can seem daunting enough on its own; you’ll be in your late 20s by the time you’re graduated and done with your bond! Compare this to the six-year bond that most overseas scholarships offer, and consider whether the additional two years are worth that overseas experience to you.

Don’t forget that there are also different types of scholarships. Mid-term scholarships usually require you to serve a shorter bond-period, and therefore, are a great consideration as well.

Another key factor you’ll want to look into when choosing between a local or overseas scholarship is cost. While most overseas scholarships give you a maintenance or living allowance, you will inadvertently incur expenses that might not be covered if you wish to travel during your breaks, or if the organisation has a monthly limit which you exceed.

Being Apart Is Never Easy

We all deal with being apart from our loved ones and being away from home differently. Some people are perfectly fine being away from home and their family without their usual circle of friends, but for most, homesickness is a very real thing, especially during festive periods. Scrolling through your social media feeds and seeing the pictures of your loved ones together at parties while you’re alone in a foreign country can make the loneliness feel more intense.

If you’re the sort who will feel homesick to the extent that it will affect your ability to concentrate on your studies, you may not be able to benefit fully from the experiences that an overseas education has to offer.

For those who are in a relationship, you also need to consider how a long-distance relationship will work out for you, and be prepared to put in the extra effort to make it work.

At the end of the day, both local and overseas scholarships have their benefits, and it’s up to you to decide what matters most to you. Try and think through your personal limits and spend time reflecting on how ready you are to take the plunge, rather than making an impulsive decision.

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