Tue, Mar 04, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Scholarships and school choice

By Chen Sinn-wen 陳信文

Since the College Entrance Examination Center released the results of the General Scholastic Ability Test for senior-high school students last month, there have been media reports of several foreign universities trying hard to recruit outstanding Taiwanese students by offering lucrative scholarships. This phenomenon highlights the importance that is placed on talent around the world.

However, these outstanding students and their parents should bear in mind that when choosing a school, the priority should be to ascertain whether it can provide the proper educational environment where students can cultivate their abilities, rather than focusing on how large a scholarship is. For outstanding students, getting a scholarship is a short-term consideration, while being given the opportunity to develop their skills and future prospects are long-term issues that should be given more weight in their decisionmaking.

Some local universities have an excellent reputation at home and abroad and their faculties are good enough to compete with those of any world-class university. The graduates trained at these prestigious universities are also welcomed by many leading foreign graduate schools. Take, for example, the chemical engineering department at National Tsing Hua University, where I teach. Our graduates are warmly welcomed by schools and enterprises locally and internationally. Many of the graduates who have chosen to apply for doctoral programs overseas in recent years have received large scholarships.

For instance, the acceptance letter from the doctoral program at a prestigious US university to a graduate of our department said that the school was willing to offer an annual scholarship of US$70,000. This included US$40,000 for tuition and living costs, and health insurance of US$30,000. If the student’s performance is up to the standard, the scholarship will be available for at least five years. That means that the total value of the scholarship is as much as US$350,000. Think about it: That is more than NT$10 million.

This year, another graduate of the department has received at least four scholarship offers from prestigious US universities. Three of these universities are inviting the student to visit their departments, and they will cover all related travel and living expenses.

The above examples are certainly not exceptions at National Tsing Hua University. The performance of Tsing Hua students when continuing their education or applying for jobs is something that outstanding senior-high school students and their parents should take into account when choosing a university.

After all, a university might not be the final education stop for many outstanding senior-high school students. They have a long life ahead of them and choosing an appropriate university that offers an environment that allows them to further cultivate their ability is far more valuable than the scholarships on offer.

Chen Sinn-wen is vice president for global affairs at National Tsing Hua University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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