Getting a quality education isn’t easy, especially with the economy and the country what they are today. More and more parents have had to make compromises with regard to education by foregoing family expenses to fund tuition, or transfer their kids to a cheaper school. There is, however, another route out of the quandary – a high school scholarship.
Although the spotlight is usually on scholarships for tertiary education, there’s also quite a number for high school students. But because there are so few scholarships and many applicants, you can expect the competition to be particularly tough.
Science High Schools
Few are as reportedly tough as the science high schools. A program of the Department of Science and Technology, the science high schools are meant to develop the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. Since the program’s establishment in the 1970’s, that has meant a science and math program that’s much tougher than that of the average public school.
Over 20,000 applicants every year take the test for the science high school system but less than a couple of thousand are chosen for slots at campuses all over the Philippines. It’s not just the test, either. Before you can apply, your elementary school has to certify you as a student in the top 10% of your batch. And even after passing the entrance test, a panel will interview you as part of the screening process.
The benefits, however, are great. For starters, tuition fees are waved for all science high school students, regardless of location or economic background. Other costs like lab fees are also shouldered by the school, and it’s only extra expenses like field trips that need to be paid for by the students. On top of that is a need-based monthly stipend and an offer to avail of each campus’ affordable on-campus housing.
Before finally enrolling at any science high school, all scholars are required to sign a contract that includes clauses for:
- return service, which can be fulfilled after you’ve earned your college degree
- tuition refund, which means you’d have to pay back what the program spent on tuition and other costs should you decide to leave before graduating
- a grade requirement, which states that you cannot continue with the program unless you earn a minimum grade in each subject at the end of every year
- degree requirements, which stipulates that you’re required to enroll in a math-, science-, technology- or engineering-related course upon graduation from the science high school program
The science high school program is not one to be taken lightly. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are all taken up individually there, and each year focuses on one of the sciences. Math courses are also major subjects for all four years, and students in the program are usually well into the collegiate math curriculum by the time they graduate. A scientific research publication is also a major requirement for graduation for some campuses.
Graduates of the program typically go on to enroll in the country’s premier universities to earn their degrees. If you’re up to the challenge, the scholarships offered by the science high school program is worth pursuing any way you look at it.
City Science High Schools
Autonomous from the science high school system are the city science high schools that are managed by their respective local government units. Manila, Makati and Quezon City host some of the more notable City science high schools in Metropolitan Manila.
Like with the science high school system, City science high schools offer students free education and heavily subsidized miscellaneous fees. The requirements, conditions and curricula of the two systems are very similar. In fact, one of the few key differences is the fact that each City science high school conducts its own entrance examinations while science high schools hold a single one for all their campuses.
Philippine High School for the Arts
The PHSA is for budding artistic talent as the science high schools are to future scientists and inventors. The program, however, is much smaller; PHSA usually gets around just 30 students every year for their single campus on Mt. Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna.
Entrance into PHSA is no easier than that for the science high schools. In place of an exam, hopefuls have to do a performance or bring a portfolio as an audition to a panel of judges. A successful audition means an all-expenses paid education – stipends included – that focuses heavily on all aspects of the arts.
Coursework at PHSA is especially rigorous, as students are required to dabble in almost all known media and forms of art. All that is done right alongside the regular high school curriculum, science, math and all. A recital is a requirement to progress from one year to the next, and a major performance is needed as every student’s thesis for graduation. Even with just 30 students, not all successful applicants make it to graduation day.
Financial Aid Offices
Although the fact isn’t as well-known as it is on the collegiate level, many private schools – particularly the sectarian ones – offer scholarships to high-performing students who can demonstrate financial need. Even in supposedly exclusive schools like Ateneo de Manila High School and Miriam College, many students are able to attend the school because of a financial aid package or tuition discounts from the administration.
Take note that this almost always requires a combination of two things: high academic performance and demonstrable financial need. Financial aid officers are often partial to applicants who come from affiliated schools – the Ateneo Grade School to the High School, for example – but will make an offer to any applicant who can make the cut.
Quality high school education is hard to get, yes, but it’s by no means impossible if it’s just cash that’s the problem. There’s more than one way to get into the high school of your choice and thus get started on building up a resume for college.