Saturday, March 12, 2011

Creative Industries Scholarship 2011 - MES

Media Education Scheme 2011 - The Creative Industries Scholarship is a yearly scholarship for students pursuing an education in the media and arts industry. This year, the application date is from 3rd January till 31st  March: almost similar to last year's application date. There are in total 4 different agencies that one can apply for scholarship and I happen to be in the Media Education Scheme. (Overseas) If you're a student who has been accepted in the United States then you're in the right moment because currently the exchange rate for USD to SGD is 1.27. With that being said, I like to share my experience with everyone else from preparations to interviews and finally, getting the scholarship. The reason why I'm doing this is because during my application time, I couldn't find any helpful information on the internet from any scholars besides occasional post in the forum. I would hereby also like to declare that my method is not a sure-fire deal and is only a guide for you guys out there. Bare in mind, the most important 5 things that will get you such a prestige scholarship is 1) your portfolio 2) your academic score 3) your story and reasoning to study in the field 4) how you'll contribute back to the society. 5) Your overall image during the interview. Once again, all that you're about to read is my personal view and it still all depends on your hard work. Yes, hard work. I don't really believe in luck.

1) Your Portfolio, what should you put? - You have probably heard about it from your professor, colleges,  peers and even friends. Always put on your best work into your portfolio. 15 pieces of best work. How do you know its your best? Well, to tell you the truth sometimes your personal view of "best works" might not be as good as you think. The only way you'll know is to show them to the four categories of people and pick out the aesthetically appealing ones that everyone likes. Most probably those are your best ever work or stuff that shine. Do not underestimate the power of sketches or even life drawings, at times they are probably way stronger than that digital painting you did within one hour. If you want a sample, here's my PORTFOLIO. Again, this is NOT the standard for a scholarship, this is only my work which I turn in for application. Sure, some of them are recent works within the last half a year or so but most of them are old work.

What if my portfolio is not professional enough?? - Sure, I was worried about that too. But remember, this is a scholarship for students. If you're as good as Van Gogh and Picasso then I don't see any reason why you're applying for school in the first place. That being said, doesn't mean you shouldn't be as good as Van Gogh and Picasso. So what do I mean? I meant that your work should show a certain personality, a certain standard of level in your craft and a certain sense of direction. 

Extra Tips - Because of the fact that I used to be in the sales line, I tend to be very picky with my materials and content. I always believe in this simple formula, " Its not what you show, its how you show your work". At the end of the day, you have to make your portfolio standout by adding a little flavor, by going that extra mile. So what do I mean by that again? I'll give you an example, I am pursuing a degree in Sequential Art and because of that, I already had passion in story creation. In my portfolio, I attached photographs of books I've collected and read and wrote down each section of those books that contributed to my growth as an artists and integrated them into my portfolio. The reason behind this is because I truly believe all this uncountable knowledge that I have from my constant hard work to add to my portfolio. 

2) Academic Score, does it really matter? - Well the difference between an artist and other profession is the fact that the artist's work speaks for him while the academic results speaks for most other profession from engineering to accountants, etc. Having said that, is the academic result of an artist important? Sure it is, you won't want to sponsor a student knowing he hasn't been doing well in his previous studies and might probably flung his next school right? Of course it matters, at the end of the day, the sponsors still need to know if you are capable of finishing the school and it does matter. In fact, if you're a high academic scholar it just simply translate to you being an individual that is hard working and adaptable to learning: Which is very important in case you haven't notice. 

What if you don't have those good grades? - Well, if I'm in your spot I'll make sure my portfolio is kick-ass enough and show other efforts that I'm willing to work hard and score additional credit from other sources. Other sources? What other sources? For one, volunteering services in the local art scenes are "Other Sources" where you can show your involvement in the art scene locally. Competitions and Awards are "Other Sources" as well. Recommendation letters are helpful too.

3) What's your story? - In every sense of the word, what's your story? Why did you love the things you're doing? Why did you want to pursue a further education? Why did you choose this school? Have you consider other choices? What are your strengths and weakness in your art? What do you intend to do 5 years down the road when you finish your school. If you haven't give a good thought about all these reasons or worsts, if you haven't consider these reasons, you better start thinking about them because chances are, your competitors who're applying for the scholarship already had all their answers out. In fact, some of these answers are basic standard interview questions not just for scholarship application, but for work as well. Wanting to improve and be better and be the best is not good enough. One has to be very specific on your goals. From the sponsor's perspective, they have to make sure that the scholarship is given to an individual whom not only excels in their work, academic and also clearly knows what he/she is doing and able to go beyond and above. 

4) How you'll contribute back to the society? - Obviously, the government is sponsoring your education for a greater good. There is really no such thing as a charity act. When you finish your school, you have to contribute back to the society. And by that, I meant in a genuine way. Before my interview, I've already been doing volunteer work as Singapore Art Festival volunteers, actively participating in Noise Singapore and constantly competing in competitions winning titles back for the country. In fact, I came in third in the regional Manga Studio Asian Competition after my interview with MDA and I immediately updated them regarding my achievement. There are various means and way that one can contribute back; through fame or educational purposes. If we don't, then the country and overall society and media scene will never grow. Our country grew because our forefathers work together to make things happened. Think about it, if everyone contributed back to the society and our country grew more talent and became acknowledge for our media and art scene to be as good as USA or Japan, how many prospective companies will want to hire you when they hear that you're from Singapore? Think about it.

5) Your final phase, The Interview - If you indeed make it to the final phase, which is the interview, you're already almost there. The interview normally takes place in early June. You'll be notified around last week of May. Will they notify you if you're not shortlisted? The answer is, maybe yes maybe not. The volume and amount of application received is extremely large and there are only a few handful of staff working on filtering the applications. Sometimes they really don't have time to notify each individual if their shortlisted. But most often than not, they do a good job and will email you. Don't quote us on this one, I don't have a firm answer, after all, I'm not the interviewer or staff. 

What to prepare and what to expect? - Expect a huge amount of pressure on your shoulders. Like I say, I used to be in the sales line and talks to an average of 40 - 60 people daily for a span of 2 years and I still feel the pressure. If you don't, something is wrong with you. Either 1) you're so confident you'll nail it ( which is bad because ego will kill you indeed or 2) you don't really care much about it. ( which is really bad too because the scholarship doesn't really matter to you. So all in all, you're suppose to feel pressured and stress, just don't go into depression. During my interview, I had 5 interviewers and they mostly put on a tough poker face throughout. Most of the questions were expected with occasional ones that I didn't quite expect. What are the questions to expect? Well, they change yearly and each question is really catered towards the individual and that much I can tell you. Here's a list of questions you should already have answers to:

a) Tell us about yourself.
b) why did you choose this field of study?
c) what motivates you in your work?
d) what are your strengths?
e) what are your weakness?
f) what are your plans if you don't get the scholarship?
g) what are your long term goals?
h) why should we give the scholarship to you instead of the rest of the applicants?
i) describe a major problem you have faced and how you dealt with it. 

These are not trick questions, as you probably can tell, these are personality questions to determine your character and maturity and a means of way to test your preparation for this interview. The more prepared you are, the better chance you stand in getting through that final round. Go through these questions with your friends and peers because it really does helped to speak the answers aloud.

Last but not least, have some faith in yourself,  if you do get in the interview, it means you stand equal chance with the next applicant and the reason they're interviewing you is to see how badly you want the scholarship. At the end of the day, if your heart is true and you're really passionate and have done all the necessary homework, the scholarship should be yours to take. Hopefully my blog post gives you a better idea of what to do. 



  1. ok thanks for doing this wabbit - ctrlsave

  2. Hi there! It is a great coincidence that I applied for the MDA scholarship with hopes of going to SCAD! May I ask the exact details for the estimated cost section so I can update MDA more accurately? It is rather urgent.. if you don't mind my email is

  3. Hi abigail, glad that you found your way here. I think the deadline for MDA's scholarship is already over on 31st March. Also, the cost is supposed to be estimated.

    You should be able to get the figure of tuition fees, accommodation from SCAD's website. For allowance it really depends on your spending nature and we had it down for $700 per month in terms of SGD when we submitted for MDA. We wrote $1k yearly for transportation base on an estimation of cycling and public transport. For books we wrote $3k yearly. Warm clothing we had it written as $1k yearly. Airfare you can check online and it depend on how often you want to fly back to Singapore. We didn't have anything for other costs. You still need to be able to justify how you get those figures if they do ask you. For example, we wrote $700 SGD for subsistence allowance because thats how much we spend in Singapore every month. It varies for other people and this is only a GUIDE for you, not an answer.

    And again, we believe the closing date was March 31st so hopefully they'll accept your application.

    Best of luck

  4. Thank you for responding! I submitted my application before 31st March so thats fine :-) So from your own experience, would SGD$700 be enough for living expenses in Georgia? (This is for personal calculation...)
    Once again, thanks!

  5. I know you posted this so long ago, but still wanted to say that you did an awesome job with the info :D you were so thorough, you reminded me of a teacher I had in high school when I was preparing my portfolio for University, it's definitely on my list of unforgettable periods in life, lol.

  6. abigail: well if you dont go club around and shopping or keep eating restaurant, it'll be enough i believe.

    flame: =)

  7. Thanks a gajillion for this post! Really really useful, came here from the forum.

  8. Hi Grace, glad that you found some useful tips here. Best of luck to whichever scholarship that you're applying.