The Hard Truth about Scholarships
One important thing you should know about scholarships is that they are not given out just to anyone who asks, requests, or begs for it. They are not given just because you are poor and disadvantaged. They are not given just because you are from a developing country or just because you belong to a minority group. The truth is scholarships are not given out, they are earned. You earn it by demonstrating your potential and establishing your qualifications. Scholar ship qualification:
Minimum Scholarship Qualifications
- You must be from a country which the scholarship provider specifies - You must be of a certain age as set by the scholarship provider. Note that this is not always the case, there are many scholarships where there is no age requirement. - You must hold a High School Diploma when applying for a Bachelors; a Bachelor’s Degree when applying for Master’s; and a Master’s Degree when applying for PhD - You must meet the academic requirements of the program you are applying to. In most cases, you have to be accepted in the progamme your are applying to before you are considered for a scholarship. - You must have good knowledge of English language with TOEFL or IELTS scores as proof. In some cases, proof of English as medium of instruction in your university degree would suffice.
- Entrance Scholarships: you have to meet the high school academic average set by the scholarship provider (usually 90% or above) - Excellence Scholarships: you have to meet the GPA required by the scholarship provider (usually 3.0 or above on a 4.0 rating system) - Leadership Scholarships: you must demonstrate leadership potential and possess leadership skills and/or experience - Competition Scholarships: you must win the competition (i.e. essay competition) - Development Scholarships: you must go back to your home country after your studies - Youth Scholarships: you have to be young, at least below 25
This should be the very first step you take in searching for financial assistance to go abroad. Start with your university, because quite frequently there are scholarship opportunities specifically offered to students interested in participating in study abroad or other international programs. But even if your university doesn’t offer study abroad scholarships, your Study Abroad and Financial Aid Offices will both have plenty of resources and potential scholarships to share with you to get you started.
Understand your Financial Aid Options
Make sure you know the difference between a grant, fellowship, scholarship, and all other forms of financial support, before you start an application. Each type of aid will garner different expectations for applications and of potential awardees, and therefore you should approach each uniquely and for different reasons, depending on what type of program you plan to pursue abroad.
Take into Account your Degree Level.
You can narrow down your search immensely by making sure each scholarship you find is applicable to your current or prospective level of study before getting too invested in the application process. Review the requirements of each scholarship to see if it is open to Undergraduate, Masters, or Ph.d. students. Remove scholarships from your search if they do not apply to your level of study or degree type.
Consider your Desired Location
Financial aid opportunities are often focused on providing funding for individuals interested in studying in a particular destination or academic institution. If you are sure you want to study abroad in Italy, for example, see if there are specific scholarships that you are uniquely eligible for. Some scholarships for study abroad prioritize individuals who want to study abroad in certain regions of the world too.
Scholarships based on Area of Study.
This will instantly narrow down the pool of applicants you are competing with. Subject-specific scholarships will also provide you with the chance to emphasize your career goals and how they align with the program you hope to participate in when it is time to fill out scholarship applications. Scholarship providers, who focus on certain fields or majors, usually do so because they have a dedication to the field, so the individuals who review your application will appreciate your drive to explore the particular field on an international level.
Research Scholarship Providers
Make sure you know how scholarship programs started, why the provider is dedicated to distributing scholarships, how they review applications, who selects award recipients, and who they have given scholarships to in the past. This essential background information will give you an immediate upper hand. Knowing who will be reading your application materials and what their goals and hopes for scholarship awardees are, will allow you to speak to these important characteristics of the scholarship more effectively, and therefore help application evaluators feel more connected to your desire to go abroad and more driven to provide you with the financial support you need.
Take your Time Filling out Applications
Treat filling out an application like filling out an exam. Scholarship applications must illustrate why you are the best potential awardee and how you will fulfill the purpose and goals behind the establishment of the scholarship. Read through all the application materials carefully, so you don’t miss anything. Have someone review your application before you submit it, especially your essays, to make sure they feel you have effectively conveyed why you should be chosen as the scholarship recipient. Most importantly, take time to eloquently develop each answer for all open-ended or essay questions, these answers are your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants and freely express why you want to go abroad.
Meet Scholarship Expectations
Last but not least, make sure your application materials are neatly organized and submitted correctly before the application deadline!