Scholars. We hear about them all the time. In TV shows, people get their whole tuition funded by the university they’re attending. These people are usually the epitome of ‘academic weapon’: 4.0+ GPA, first in the class, and still participate in all sorts of extracurriculars.
What about New Zealand? Lucky for you, New Zealand offers scholarships. However, it’s a bit different.
Scholarship is an examination by NZQA which offers you up to $500 for a good score. Of the entire cohort, around only 3% of students earn the scholarship. If you pass more than three scholarship subjects, you can earn up to $1,000—sometimes even $6,000. Considering the expensive tuition fees for university, those scholarships are some good money.
Not only that, scholarships look good for university applications, especially if you’re looking to go overseas. Think of it like America’s AP classes.
If you do end up overseas for university, NZQA won’t pay you the money. But it’s okay! Macleans College will pay your scholarship sum right out of their pockets, so you don’t lose out on your hard work just because you’ve gone overseas.
I’m in Year 13 now and I take scholarships for history and biology. I also signed up for an English scholarship at the start of the year, but I dropped it after a term. I could’ve earned up to $1,000 in scholarships had I kept English. So why did I drop it?
The reality of taking a scholarship is not just doing your own study. You’re encouraged to wake up early or stay after school to attend tutorials — these are sessions run by teachers, often Head of Department or Head of Faculty, to facilitate your personal study. Some of these classes start as early as 7.15 in the morning.
My weekly schedule is waking up early on Tuesdays and Thursdays for my scholarship classes. On Tuesdays, I arrive at 7:15 am for scholarship history and leave by around 8:10 am. On Thursdays, I arrive at 7:30 am and it usually runs right to the start of form time.
If I kept doing scholarship English, I would be arriving at school at 7:30 am on Wednesday mornings. Three days in a row would be early mornings.
While that is fine for people who don’t do any after-school activities, it was too much for me when I stayed at school Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays until 6:30 pm and Saturdays from 9 to 5 for two terms.
Talk about overkill.
But teachers have slowly made going to these classes a little more bearable. While I don’t get any snacks at scholarship history, I get nut bars and juice boxes from my scholarship biology teacher. Even at scholarship meetings with the principal, we get muffins and cupcakes.
The school may be using food as an incentive to show up to the classes, but I’d say it’s a reward for waking up early for almost a year.
If you’re not one to wake up or stay later to earn some money, you can always sign up for the Gold Scholarship pathway which the school offers in course selection. You get a period in your schedule to self-study around five scholarships or more. I don’t take it, so I can’t really give any good information, so your next best point of information is the Student Advisory Services (SAS) or Mrs Power and Ms Yu in Rutherford.
Wish me luck with my external exams at the end of this year. I hope I can at least get $500 for my troubles.
September 19th, 2023
Written by Clarissa Oblefias, edited by Emma Li and Shafquat Tabeeb