SOTY – 2016 overview
Since 1974, the Student of the Year (SOTY) Awards have recognised more than 300 students for their outstanding academic achievements, personal development, and contributions to society.
Last year, SCMP and The Hong Kong Jockey Club formed a SOTY alumni group made up of winners from the awards’ 35-year history. The group’s main mission is to mentor pupils and visit schools to hold discussions on how to help students reach their full potential.
Students in Forms Four to Six or Grades 10 to 12 in government-registered secondary schools in Hong Kong during the 2016-17 academic year are eligible for nomination. A maximum of two students from each school can be nominated in each category – except for the linguist category, where a maximum of six students can be nominated (two each for English, Putonghua, and Cantonese). Nominees can be put forward for up to two award categories, one of which must be the grand prize.
As the competition enters its 36th year, there are a few changes that you should know about:
Getting to know the two new categories
In addition to the usual awards in language, sports, visual arts, performing arts, community service, and science & mathematics, there are two new categories: devotion to school and best improvement.
The best improvement award is for students who have worked hard to better themselves during the previous year. This might involve academic performance or personal development.
The judging criteria consists of an essay entitled “Positive changes I made in order to improve” (60 per cent), and up to three reference letters from a school official, coach, fellow volunteers, counsellors or teachers (40 per cent). The referee needs to know the student well and have worked with them.
The best devotion to school award will go to students whose service to their school has inspired respect and appreciation from teachers and fellow students. Nominees should be responsible leaders who are good at working within teams, and also excel in external activities.
Like the best improvement award, the judging criteria for best devotion consists of an essay entitled “Contributions to school and how change was made possible” (60 per cent), and up to three reference letters (40 per cent).
The judges will select the best five students in each of these two categories as winners. Essays for both of the new awards can be written in Chinese (up to 600 characters) or English (up to 1,000 words), while the reference letter can be up to 300 words in English, or up to 200 characters in Chinese.
What the students win
The grand prize winner gets a HK$25,000 scholarship, with HK$8,000 for the first runner-up, and HK$4,000 for the second runner-up. Winners of the sportsperson, performing artist, visual artist, community contributor, and science & mathematics categories will each receive a HK$10,000 scholarship. First runners-up will get HK$4,000, and second runners-up will get HK$2,000. Winners of the new categories – best improvement and best devotion to school (five students in each category) – will each receive a HK$5,000 scholarship. Anyone who successfully registers as a nominee will get a certificate.
How to enter
The nomination period runs until December 15, 2016. Schools can submit nominations online, by post, or via email. Nominees must provide copies of certificates or documents supporting their submission.
To download application forms and find more information about the awards, visit the Student of the Year website.