Every year, without fail, there will be big hue-and-cry over the awarding of the PSD/JPA scholarships. And every year, there will be some sob-story about how people's dreams and hopes are crashed.
The awarding of the scholarships have never been completely fair; there's always been the same 'who you know', 'quota' and the list goes on and on and on.
There are more and more and more people with Straight A's, so much so that it's beginning to defy the conventions of the normal curve. But just because you got straight A's does NOT mean you DESERVE a scholarship. It is not a right.
An academic wrote to The Star and said she (I don't know if it's a she or he; but I will use 'she') had 33.33% of her class with 8-10 A's, and yet they didn't do well when exam time came.
Fyi, exam grades usually follow the normal curve, especially one as big as a national exam. Which means in a randomly-assigned (i.e., non-streamed) class, it defies all conventions of the normal distribution to have 33.33% score straight A's! For the highest extreme on either ends (A, A+ and F), you should only have 0.1-2.5%.
Which means, sorry to break it to you, but our A's mean nothing. An exam that deviates so far from the normal curve has very miniscule validity (i.e., it's not testing what it purports to test, and the results do not reflect what it says it reflects).
So just because you got the A's doesn't mean you deserve a scholarship.
We have all been brought up with the doing-something-to-get-something culture. Do your chores, and daddy gives you some extra-spending money; Get a reward of cash for every A you get; Mummy buys you a gift for every little achievement.
While it is great to learn how to work hard, the real world isn't about being rewarded for everything.
Wow, how this reward and punishment system is blowing up in our face.
What happened to I work hard and study hard because I want to learn as much as I can, both from my studies and from life? Why is it the end is more important than the means? Don't the means have value in themselves? Since when is education a waste?
Every year, thousands of people complain about not getting their PSD-scholarships, and every year, it's the same thing: 'Why is it this person who got the same number of A's was awarded the scholarship but not me?' 'I got this number of A's and I deserve it.'
Sorry, but no, you don't. You meet the requirements to be considered for a scholarship, but that doesn't mean the place is rightfully yours.
Think about it: Just because you qualify for the job doesn't mean you get it.
Not everyone who 'deserves' the scholarship gets it and not everyone who gets it deserves it.
Not fair? Yes, probably, but so is life. BUT, having said that, there are people who receive the PSD-scholarship who deserve it.
Learn to be resourceful. Look at other means. Just because PSD won't give it to you doesn't mean that everyone else won't.
There are a BIG number of PSD scholarship recipients in my university. Probably 5/6 of Malaysian students who study there are under JPA.
I kid you not when I tell you my jaw dropped the first time I had class with a group of PSD recipients. I was happy initially to be in classes with some people I know and who have the same background (country-wise and language anyway) as me. But after the first week, I was beginning to understand why other non-PSD recipients were sometimes shying away from being with them.
On the first day of the class, during our group work, we introduced ourselves. In my group there were 6 of us, 3 Malaysians in total.
We went around with the introductions and 4 of us said our names and where we were from. The other 3 students, the non-Malaysians, realised they had some similar language background. So they had something in common too. And when the first PSD recipient introduced herself, she said her name, which country she was from, and then said:-
"I am a government scholar!"
My jaw dropped, and I saw some raised-eyebrows all around. The other PSD recipient also did the same with her introductions.
I have since heard the same introductions all around. Malaysian students who actually when introducing themselves, say that.
A new batch of Malaysian students came in, and when I met up with the Malaysian group, they all asked me the same thing: "You scholar ke bukan? (Are you a scholar or not?)"
Wow. What is this about 1Malaysia again? How does this have anything to do with anything? It's as if their entire identity is tied to being a SCHOLAR. Very big words. Very, very big words.
No offence, but you've just set yourself into a corner, because it will smack you in the face. Everybody stumbles, and everybody falls. And yes, in case you're wondering, I am a big faller and a big tumbler, and I have no qualms admitting that. But I pick myself up and go again.
One PSD recipient was bugging me in class to help her with her work. I helped her; after the 3rd assignment however, I was beginning to get fed-up. It's ok to discuss answers, and to have group studies. But when you call me up to ask for the answers...
She sits next to me in class, and when the professor is teaching, she doesn't bother to take most of the notes, and even when the professor says specifically "I expect you to know this" (duh, it's a hint), she doesn't bother. And then every assignment and test and exam she calls me.
I will help you if you really don't know, trust me, I will. I have tutored entire (or almost) courses for free because people, Malaysians and non-Malaysians alike, were struggling.
But when it is your attitude...
Are these the kind of people who are called scholars?
I had one professor who gave me this look in class once. She eventually asked where I was from because she said the accent/speech patterns sounded familiar. I told her I was from Malaysia.
And then she said: "Ahhhh...You're...not like the rest of the Malaysians I've had"
Please, someone, tell me they didn't give the professor the "I'm a scholar" spew.
Malaysia gets enough of a bad image from the press. You won't believe how many times Macleans magazine, for example, picks up on some dumb thing some MP said, or when Malaysia makes a big fuss about what Shakira or Avril Lavigne is wearing.
I've had people ask me: "What's all this fuss with Avril Lavigne? And isn't Malaysia the same one who made a fuss about_____?"
My point? If you get the PSD-scholarship, be grateful and appreciate it.
And if you don't get it, don't moan and groan. Appeal your case, be proactive etc. Look at other resources of scholarships. There are external and overseas-based scholarships, for example.
And if you did get it, congratulations, but don't let it get to your head. You have to continue working hard, or you will go nowhere. I'm on a scholarship myself (nope, not JPA) and believe you me, I'm working my bum off. A full-course load (and my scholarship requires me to maintain a certain grade), I work, and I volunteer in four organisations and two research labs. I barely even have Sundays off.
Just please, don't go down the road of 'my dreams and hopes are gone'.
I used to feel sorry for people who got the minimum requirements for a PSD-scholarship but didn't get it. And then I...grew up...And realised...nobody owes you anything. And you'll only make it if you're tough as well.
You're the only one who can sustain your dream, your hopes and your passion. Giving up completely on a dream just because you hit an obstacle doens't speak much about your dream.
You have to be passionate to chase your dream. Learn to own your dreams! Learn to fly...