JPA Rejects

Since this is an annual thing, I thought that I should just put a few words down to tell the kids who got rejected by JPA – Don’t Give Up!

Dear JPA Reject,

I shall use the words that I had once heard, from a good professor of mine: “Although you may feel dejected, do not feel depressed.” The reason is really simple. The JPA scholarship is not the be-all-end-all of your dreams. Your dreams are yours to keep. So, keep them alive!

I have been fortunate enough to get multiple education scholarship offers in my life and I had turned down a few of them. I have also made many friends who are both government scholars and non-government scholars alike. So, I would like to share some of these experiences.

First and foremost, the JPA scholarship scheme is just one of the many scholarships available, both local and overseas. You should realise that there are many scholarship awarding bodies in Malaysia. For those who will be facing their SPM examinations in the future, please remember to apply for multiple scholarships, if only to increase your chances of actually getting one.

You see, everyone has a different set of criteria. You may not agree with the JPA selection criteria and you may not fit in with it. However, there are also other scholarship bodies who do not agree with the JPA selection criteria and apply their own criteria in scholar selection. So, while you may not fit into the JPA mould, you may actually fit into some other mould.

There are also many overseas scholarship schemes available. In fact, many foreign universities are able to provide some sort of financial aid for their students. You should check to see if you qualify for these. There are also various international foundations and bodies who offer scholarships. This is particularly true if you are able to secure a place in a top university.

This brings me to my second point. This is not the end of the road. You can still try again at the post-STPM (and equivalent) level. There is nothing to stop you from continuing your education to a pre-university level and trying again. There are plenty of Malaysians who have done exactly that – do their pre-university education themselves and re-apply for scholarships again.

If you cannot afford to study your A-Levels/IB at a private institution, you can always do your STPM. You may not realise this but the STPM is actually a very well recognised pre-university level qualification. You will still be able to apply for various foreign universities with the STPM. Do not always believe what the private colleges tell you about the STPM.

However, some of you may be turned-off by the lengthy duration of the STPM exam. For this, I have only one advice – a single year is nothing, in the larger scheme of things. Think about this for a minute. What is a single year difference when compared with an entirely lifetime. In fact, it is a common practice to take a ‘gap-year’ to go explore various avenues in life. This can even help you figure out what it is that you actually want in life instead of blindly going with the flow.

This brings me to my next point. Not everyone is made out to be a doctor. In fact, you are probably not made out to be a doctor. The medicine path is a long and arduous one and if you are not made out to be a doctor, studying medicine is going to be hell. I have seen this happen to many friends. So, you should really ask yourself if you really love medicine or if you’re doing it just for the heck of it.

You can be a success, if you do something that you truly like – be it something as dull as accounting or something as exciting as engineering (alright, I’m biased!). But seriously, you need to think carefully of your career choice. It is something that you will be living with daily for the rest of your life. If you find that you hate medicine after so many years of study, you will lose more than just a couple of years.

And finally, do not let this little hurdle stop you from pursuing your dreams. There are many paths that can lead to your dream. Sometimes, it may actually be better to take the path less tread. So, do not think that your world has ended as a result of this rejection. Learn to handle rejection and to use it positively to improve yourself so that you will ultimately, still achieve your dreams.

PS: Do not stop dreaming!

with metta,
Shawn Tan.
(Still trying to achieve my dreams!)

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

8 thoughts on “JPA Rejects”

  1. Kindest and most constructive words I’ve heard from any party on this issue for a while!

  2. This is nice and blunt which i like very much. I always had the opinion that in most Asian families, we are encourage to pursue a career that makes money. And many of times, we need to sacrifice what we are passionate about.

    But many of times, what we are passionate at most often will make us the most money. So here’s something to ponder about.

    So here’s a nice quote about dreams

    “All men dream, but unequally. Those that dream at night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake the next day to find that their dreams were just vanity. But those who dream during the day with their eyes wide open are dangerous men; they act out their dreams to make them reality.” -T.E. Lawrence

  3. Very well written indeed. I agree but that doesn’t mean that I agree with JPA selection criteria. This post is a very good advice for students, and adults too.

  4. Well said, especially on the part of foreign scholarships. One good thing about foreign scholarships is when you get them you feel as if you have triumph on an international stage. This is especially so for bumiputera students who tend to be stereotyped whenever they obtained government scholarships. Actually, if you are really patriotic, you should just go for overseas scholarship coz, by securing yourself a foreign scholarship, you are actually telling the people around the world whom you are competing with that intelligent/all-rounded students exist in Malaysia, thus putting our country in the world map. Also, Malaysians do not really need to look very far, I think. The country across the causeway would be most willing to take in these top scorers…haha…they even put you in good Junior College like Raffles etc. and pay for your living + allowance. Besides that, if you do really well in your A-levels, you are most certainly be given a place in NUS or even scholarships to other top foreign universities overseas =) I have a friend who is in Harvard now under the Singapore government scholarship although he is a Malaysian. Once you have graduated, Singapore govt is also so willingly retain you as PR/citizens haha… I didn’t apply for Singapore for some personal reasons 😛 (no offense to Singaporeans) so I went for Australia then the UK. Nonetheless, since this JPA thing is so controversial, maybe scrapping the whole award maybe the best thing to do and use the money saved from millions to bring back our Malaysian talents everywhere around the world so all top scorers have the chance to study with these experts on Malaysian soil. I was pleasantly surprised last week to have met a prominent professor from MIT who came to visit who was once Malaysian 😛 He expressed to me his desire to return home after almost 50 years abroad but…oh well..
    Just my two cents.

  5. Haha…they are most willing to keep you there (they even ask you in the interview whether you will eventually marry a Singaporean and settle down there), the choice (not always) is still yours I think *wink 😛

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