Sunday, May 21, 2006

PSD Scholarships – Disappointments to Most Applicants

Posted by Chong

The years of study paid off: He scored 15 A1s. He also got an A2 for English and a B3 for English for science and technology.

Son of a lorry driver and a factory worker, he dreamt of securing a scholarship from the Public Service Department. The dream was shattered yesterday.
- NST: 15 A1s but PSD turns him down
Another proof that top student (15 1As, one 2A & one 3B) missed 1A in English for Science and Technology (EST). I think he certainly deserves a PSD scholarship the most. However, Public Service Department may have overlooked him since he got a 3B in EST.

That is the reality because we know for a fact that the unsuccessful applicants over the years have moved on. Some will get scholarships from the private sector, some from the colleges they attend; many will move on to Form Six and try again two years down the line.

Some will appeal and some will call upon third parties to intervene. But the majority will quietly accept their fate and move on.
- The Star: Life’s not always fair, but learn to move on
I totally agree that life is not always fair, that is why I have moved on to Form Six.

PSD corporate communications head Hasniah Rashid said that with a record number of 15,000 applications for 1,300 overseas scholarships, there were bound to be many disappointed students.

“Applicants who appeal will be informed by the end of June at the latest whether their appeal is successful,” she said, adding that the closing date for appeals was May 24.
- The Star: Scholarship joy for some, blow for others
The competition for PSD scholarships was really tough! There’s a slim chance that those appeal might be awarded a PSD scholarship. So, please don’t hold out much hope of getting a PSD scholarship through appeal or you will be turned down again.

All citizens should be aware that the Government does not owe any student, despite his or her excellent SPM results, a scholarship.

Scholarship is defined in Websters dictionary as “the position of a student, who, because of merit, needs, etc, is granted money or other aid to pursue his studies”.
- The Star: Government does not owe anyone a scholarship
I come from a poor family; very active in co-curricular activities; got straight As in SPM 2005 and I failed to get a PSD scholarship. However, I realize that my broken English speaking during the interview is the main demerit factor to my application.

Meanwhile, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the party would try its best to help students who failed to get PSD scholarships.

“From what we understand, there are more than 13,000 PSD scholarship applicants this year. More than 4,000 of them were straight A students but only about 1,200 scholarships were offered.”
-The Star: Eight MRSM students caught in a quandary
Yes, I am one of the 4000 straight As students. Can Datuk Ong help those students who failed to get PSD scholarships? It’s really too soon to judge him right now.

The PSD has made it clear that selection of scholars is based on an eclectic array of academic attainment (65 per cent), extra-curricular activities (10 per cent), socio-economic status (10 per cent) and the interview (15 per cent). With little to choose from between the candidates in terms of their SPM results, what seems to make the difference is the performance at the interview and also the choice of courses.”
- NST: Measures of merit
I think Public Service Department should reveal the name list of successful applicants to the public to make the selection process more transparent, e.g. how many percent of the successful applicants is non-Bumi?

Unfortunately, having gone through the process, I must say that the interview format is ineffective in judging a person’s character.

The interview is conducted in groups of up to 10 and lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. We were not even required to write an essay, which may help in the assessment of a person’s aptitude.
- NST: Base selection on merit
This year, PSD has replaced the essay test with a psychological test. In my opinion, the psychological test could assess a person’s aptitude more effectively than the essay test.

The most obvious question then is, why after all these years must the standard of the examinations be such that they produce so many top scorers?

Can’t the benchmarks or grade levels be tweaked and raised much higher, so as to spare the headaches and heartaches? Surely the authorities would welcome not having to deal with the embarrassing cases of 10A or 11A students being denied places.
- NST: Raising the standard may spare many the heartache
I disagree that raising the grade levels will stop this situation from repeating every year. Instead, raising the number of scholarships available is the key solution to this problem. Sending more deserving students overseas could produce more first class mentality.


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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Updates from the STPM UPU front.

Posted by Reign226

I do apologize for the lack of updates. Life for me has been pretty hectic. Anyway I return with an update for students who sat for their STPM 2005 examinations and are now waiting for their UPU results to be announced somewhere in the end of June.

Before I start though, I would like to thank my friend Kelly for providing me with the information that I am about to reveal. And this concerns the selection procedure for entry into local public universities.

As I have been made to understand, the effort is entirely manual. Not automated by computer as I had thought (and should have been in the first place). First, your grades are calculated and transformed into a score, which is then added with other criterias like co-cu participation, family background, location, etc etc. Then a total 'score' is calculated from all these disparate criterias and this represents your particular score.

In a way, this is not dissimilar to procedures for applying for foreign citizenship, where they will also grade you with scores based on your background, expertise, etc.

After your score is tallied, your first choice is then looked at. If you beat the score of the last person who qualified for that course, then you are offered that course. 'Last' meaning the lowest scoring student who still managed to get into that course.

The list is processed alphabetically and immediately you can see a few flaws with this implementation. First, the fact that since the list is done alphabetically, there will arise a situation where students who are processed first will gain entry into a course while those who are processed later (K, L, M, etc) will not since to gain entry, you must beat the least scoring student. So if you just manage to equal his or her points, then you won't get the course.

Secondly, the amount of work is amazing! They have processed up to the letter C and already all the UM faculties are full. That means that for every student who beats the lowest scoring student, they have to re-evaluate the second choice for the unfortunate student who got pushed out. Nearing the end of the list, it is not surprising that by processing every name, you will end up having to shuffle around seven or eight people because the first student beat the cutoff, so bumping another into their second choice, which then bumps a third student... you can see where this is going.

What I cannot undersand is... WHY? Why didn't they just hard-code the methods for counting the scores into the online form that we fill? After all, our data has already been digitized, so it's a matter of manipulating them through a software programme designed to interface with the database that stores all our data. After that, it's just a matter of coding the rules for university seat allocation and letting the computer run through the whole score-list. With this approach, I don't think it will take more than a day to finish processing all the forms!

I really honestly couldn't think of a reason for this gross inefficiency. The only reason why we need human 'examiners' is because of subjectivity, but there is nothing subjective about university entrance!

Or is there?


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tough Competition for JPA Scholarships

Posted by Chong

A reader has left an interesting comment in the post entitled ‘My JPA Scholarship Interview Experience’. Since my thoughts on his or her comment are long enough to be put into a post, I post it here. So please read the comment first before reading this post.

Dear Supremacy,

Thanks for your constructive comment. After reading your comment, I have a few thoughts as stated below.

First, I don’t agree that about 30% of the straight 1As students are nerds. I think that 2% is a more reasonable percentage. Even if they were nerds, I don’t agree that they weren’t short-listed for JPA Scholarship Interview. Why? The reason is simple: JPA worry that straight 1As students will make complaints or newspaper headlines when they were not short-listed for the interview.

Bear in mind, last month when The Star reported a straight 1As (12 1As) student, Albert Wong failed to be short-listed for JPA Scholarship Interview, Public Service Department or Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam was under high pressure. Finally, with the help from Cabinet members, Albert was awarded a full scholarship without even having to attend a scholarship interview!

Although you might argue that it was a special case since Albert is a student with special needs, I do believe the same happy endings will happen to all straight 1As, average students when they make the newspaper headlines. For the less fortunate 3834 straight 1As+2As students including myself, if we fail to win the JPA scholarships, we could do nothing but to accept the evil truth.

Next, it’s true that many top SPM students have secured some other famous scholarships like ASEAN scholarships, Petronas scholarships and Tenaga Nasional Berhad scholarships to name a few. However, many of them still applied JPA scholarships and went to the interview too!

During my JPA scholarship interview, I met two top students who were already awarded Petronas scholarship and Inti College’s scholarship respectively. One of the questions I have raised during my conversation with them is ‘Why do you apply JPA scholarship since you have already secured such a nice scholarship?’ Both of them give me the same simple and straightforward answer, ‘JPA scholarship is the best scholarship and I wish to study abroad without paying a single dollar’.

In my conclusion, competition for JPA scholarships is extremely tough. Only time will tell if this is true.

Best wishes,
Cupid

PS Don’t hesitate to leave your contact details like blog’s URL or email address in your comment. 8-)

Update: You can check the JPA scholarship application results now. I failed to win JPA scholarship. Only two straight 1As students from my school have secured them. The competition was really tough. The annual drama begins...


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