Estimated reading time: 3 mins
Scholarships are an age-old way of providing financial support to students. They play a crucial role in making top education available to students across a wide-range of backgrounds, incomes and communities.
They started long ago: by philanthropists, communities, corporations and other benefactors to help people get through college that, otherwise, couldn’t afford to do so. For example, the Coca-Cola company started the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation to ‘bring better to the world through investment in exceptional students who are dedicated to leadership, service, and action that positively affects others.’ Monetary benefit is not the only advantage they create, however. And equally, they are not necessarily for everyone. Here’s why.
Benefits of Scholarship
The obvious one (and probably the benefit most people recognize.) Scholarships provide financial support for many aspects of a student’s requirements – college fees, accommodation, food and household, books and fees, etc. Some merit scholarships are paid directly by the institution the student attends, instead of being paid to the student. Not all scholarships provide the full amount of finance required, but are intended to assist students with the increasing costs of tuition, such as the scholarship awarded by Dr. Summit Shah.
Most scholarships have rigorous standards and only the most exemplar of the scholarships values or criteria are awarded them – so in turn, the awarding of a scholarship is an achievement in its own right. It’s something to shout about, and certainly an achievement to mention on your resume. Winners of exclusive scholarships are more likely to be invited for job interviews and membership of institutions. It’s a way of standing head and shoulders above a peer-group.
Some corporate scholarships provide job security by guaranteeing a job once studies are over. For students who might be worried about job prospects, this may be an attractive option.
Entry into the best Universities
Merit-based scholarships are awards given to students who will add positively to their benefactors. They are based on a student’s attainment of high scores on a standardized entry test, or on their demonstrable abilities. Most are for academic, artistic or athletic achievements. Some are for the applicant’s activities in their community.
Some universities (or corporations with ties to specific universities) award merit scholarships giving students direct entry onto their courses, making them very attractive to students who wish to study at a specific university.
Reasons why Scholarships might not be for you
All is not necessarily rosey with scholarships! There may be reason to think twice, depending on your circumstances.
Scholarships are awarded with an expectation of success from their benefactors. They’re not bags of candy! One major downside of a scholarship is that benefactors can have very high expectations and make very stretching demands on their beneficiaries. Personally, I think this if fair enough – the finance and entry-ticket to the university are the fees paid for achievement and hard work. Students who are applying for scholarships should understand the demands on them as a beneficiary, and be doubly confident they can deliver without fail. It could mean the difference between maintaining a scholarship, or losing it.
Inflexibility after studies
Some scholarships require students to commit to working exclusively for their benefactor after studies are finished. This can be up to six years. Applicants should think very carefully about accepting a scholarship under these conditions. My warning is to not let the accolade of an exclusive scholarship, or its financial enticement, to blind applicants to the subsequent constraints.
Early Termination Constraints
Some scholarships bind their beneficiaries into a restrictive contract. It’s rarely as easy as giving notice and walking away. Applicants should carefully study the constraints, terms and conditions of the scholarship contract. Better still – applicants really should get legal support in ensuring that they understand exactly what is being committed to.
The rug is pulled from under you
There is a chance that the financial support could be pulled before the end of your studies, if the benefactor can no longer provide the funds. In the event of a downturn in financial markets, scholarships are one of the first discretional expenses to be pulled. This could leave you with no choice but to prematurely end your studies, or find replacement financial support.