After going back and forth discussing about a chance for her to get a scholarship abroad, I got another reply from her in my Facebook, asking, “I’ve checked the website. Thank you. What should I do next?” This is one of my absolute pet peeves. The website is clear and they even have an FAQ’s page dedicated to answer all of her questions, yet she wouldn’t spend time reading it. So I closed the chat box because I wouldn’t spend time wasting my time. She is one of my friends who reached out to me because she knows I was a scholarship grantee. Wanting to follow my footstep, she opened the dialogue by asking which website I went to look for a scholarship. I happily gave out the name of the website. She then asked some more questions that have obvious answers had she just spent a few minutes reading it through.
When it comes to applying a scholarship abroad, there are two types of candidates based on my experience: The ones who actually mean it and the ones who treat it like it’s a lottery. When they actually mean it, they are usually already ahead of their game: they have checked on the website, spend time reading all the information, and start putting together all the requirements. They would come to me only to ask if there is any TOEFL test center that I recommend or if they want me to edit or proofread their essays. They usually already know what they want. For these people, I go out of my way to help them. They deserve it. They make my time well spent. So far there are two friends that I mentored and received the Fulbright scholarship. They earned it.
The second category is the ones who treat it like it’s a lottery. They will find someone who has received a scholarship before and ask them what step to take first, and next, and so forth. They don’t bother reading the website and depend on their mentor to “feed” them. They’d ask what website they should go to (when you can simply Google that), how to get a scholarship (if you have a will, you’ll find your way), down to the most simple questions such as the deadline and requirements, which answers can be found in the website if only they take time to just read. Sadly, there are more people who fall in this category. They would give their minimum efforts, expecting the world to help them, and see where their luck takes them. So far I haven’t seen anyone from this category got lucky. Real life is not a lottery.
There is nothing wrong by asking for help from a mentor. In fact, this whole Indonesia Mengglobal site is dedicated to inspire and to help you. But understand that there is a fine line between asking someone to help you and asking someone to do it for you. There’s a bit of cultural background mixed up in it. According to UNESCO, the percentage of reading interest in Indonesia is 0.01%, meaning that out of 10,000 people, there is only 1 person who has an interest in reading. Therefore, it’s no surprise if we can’t even spend 15 minutes reading all of the information in the website. Instead we’d rather look for command from someone of what to do next. Anything but reading.
I remember the time when I applied for a scholarship. It was back in 2007, there was no Indonesia Mengglobal team to make things clear for me, my English was not as good, and the Internet speed was not as fast. I sat in my bedroom with a laptop at my desk and an English-Indonesian dictionary next to it. There I was, full of hopes and efforts. There were educational terms that I didn’t know the meaning, but there were me and my dictionary against the world. I wish we had Indonesia Mengglobal team at the time, which would have made things easier.
My friend, if you really want it, act accordingly. Do everything you can in your power to get it and let God do the rest. If you get help from other party, say, a mentor, that’s great. But if not, that’s great, too. You depend on you. It’s your life, it’s your future, and it’s not your mentor’s. If you get the scholarship, more than making your parents and loved ones proud, you make yourself proud. It’s the priceless sense of earning an achievement. Otherwise, don’t bother, because there is a bunch of people who deserve it better. These people usually will win it, too. We call them “scholarship material.”
Content edited by Artricia Rasyid
Photo Credit: The Zombie Shuffle