In the Garden of City Lights, more famously known as Kuala Lumpur, Shabir Singh Dillon and his mother used to make a daily routine out of scouring the internet high and low for scholarships to study computer science. Then, one day while catching a break, Dillon came across the Yayasan Sime Darby Scholarship programme, and he couldn’t miss the opportunity staring at him right in the face.
“I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. I am going to stay focused and work harder than anyone else to achieve my goals!” Dillon tells us when we asked him what contributing factors would make him stand out at his future university.
Safe to say, with this can-do attitude, he ended up winning a scholarship and will soon be pursuing a BSc in Computer Science at the University College London (UCL) in the UK. He speaks to us below about what the application process was like, what he anticipates and what he will miss from home — but he definitely seems excited for his adventure abroad!
Out of all the countries you had the option to choose to study computer science, why the UK?
I chose to further my studies in the UK because that country has many of the world’s best universities. I’m also more accustomed to the UK education system as I did my A-levels for my pre-university qualification there. The location is a huge factor in my decision because travelling around Europe from the UK is extremely easy and affordable for students. Another thing I like is visiting new countries.
Why University College London in particular? What attracted you to apply for a computer science degree there?
The reason I applied for a BSc in Computer Science at UCL is because they offer the Integrated Engineering Programme, which is embedded in my programme and allows me to work on real-world industry problems as well as problems across multiple disciplines.
Through a series of authentic team-based engineering projects, I will be able to receive a unique opportunity to apply my technical knowledge through the process of engineering design. I also have the chance to go on field trips as well as to work with, and be mentored by the industrial and community partners.
Walk us through the application process. What was it like?
The application process was quite straightforward and simple. You need to register with Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which is an organisation that handles all undergraduate and postgraduate applications for all universities in the UK. Then you need to choose between one to five universities you like and write one personal statement explaining why you chose to study this degree, and why you are passionate about it.
This personal statement will then be sent to all the universities you applied to. If you applied through your college, they will help guide you through the process or connect you with MABECS, which assists students in Malaysia to find suitable places in the UK for free.
What is the first thing you plan to do when you arrive? And what items from home will you be bringing along with you?
I want to explore London, and probably grab a meal with my batchmates! Other than your usual and basic essentials, I am definitely bringing a lot of Milo powder to the UK.
What advice do you have for students choosing a similar path like yours?
This advice was given to all of the scholars at the Scholarship Camp and it resonated with me deeply: aim for the best. When you aim high, even if your grades drop, you shouldn’t feel disheartened or discouraged because you gave it your all.
If you are planning to further your studies in Computer Science, I highly recommend studying a programming language course called “Python” (a beginner-friendly one) or “Java” (a more advanced programming language) before entering university as it helps to better prepare you. It also helps determine if you really want to stay on this path.