Getting an education can be very costly, particularly if you’re looking to study abroad. With the high tuition fees and living costs, getting a scholarship may be your only guarantee for studying in top-notch colleges and universities around the world. Although there are usually various scholarships you could apply for, they are often highly competitive. Thousands of other students apply yearly for scholarships to study abroad. Hence, understanding how to set yourself apart from the competition is crucial to your success.
First, it’s important to know the difference between scholarships, grants, and student loans. Both grants and scholarships are gift aids, and you’ll not have to pay back. However, while grants are typically need-based and given to students that can’t afford to pay for their studies, scholarships are largely merit-based; academic, artistic, or athletic. On the other hand, you’ll need to pay back a student loan, and probably with interest. Student loans may lead to huge debt, like in the US where student loan debt reached $1.5 trillion in 2020. So, getting a scholarship is certainly a better option!
Having learnt that, let’s now look at 5 easy steps that you can follow to get a scholarship:
- Know the Different Types of Scholarships
Scholarships are categorised into different types, depending on a number of factors. Here are some of the most common types:
- Merit scholarships: These are often based on academic performance, and have minimum requirements for GPAs. They are often the most competitive scholarships available.
- Sports scholarships: These are awarded based on athletic abilities. You can get a scholarship to study in a school while playing for their sports team.
- Scholarships for under-represented groups: These are based on demographics. For example, citizens of developing countries, refugees, women, etc.
- Scholarships for all international students: If you’re an international student looking to study abroad, there are several scholarships you could apply
- Find the Best Scholarships for You
To get a scholarship, you’ll certainly need to search for one whose requirements you’ve fully met and is applicable to your choice of study. Great places to start your search are the official websites of your preferred universities. Feel free to contact a representative via email to see if they can provide some valuable information. Of course, you’ll also need to carefully search the internet. However, it may be difficult to get relevant information, as some websites may have outdated content. Here are a few great resources to help your search:
- Scholarships for Development: A great resource for students from developing countries.
- Scholarshipportal.com: A database of 5000+ scholarships.
- Official EU scholarship page: Check out these scholarships to study in Europe.
- Scholarships.com: A database of over 3.5 million scholarships and grants.
- Stay Up-to-date on Application Requirements and Deadlines:
After choosing one or more scholarships that you’ll like to apply for, the next step would be to compile the requirements for each scholarship. Because applying for any scholarship can be a daunting process, staying organised is necessary to avoid missing deadlines. Although scholarships may have different requirements, here are some ones that are commonly required:
- Application forms: You’ll typically need to fill out an application form and provide the needed information.
- Essays: Some scholarships may require that you write one or more essays within a stated word limit. For example; you may be asked to write on how the scholarship will help you achieve your academic and career goals. These essays provide you an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition through your compelling, authentic writing.
- Transcripts: Apply for your transcript ahead of time to avoid any delays during your scholarship application process. Transcripts provide a detailed list of your coursework and grades.
- Resume: Your resume should contain information on your work experience that applies to your study. You may also include your volunteer experience.
- Letters of recommendation: You’ll be asked to provide a letter of recommendation, usually from your employer or past lecturer. Ensure you get your recommendation from someone who can vouch for your character and give compelling reasons on why you should be awarded the scholarship.
- Get a Third-Party Review
Because of the competitive nature of scholarships, it’s always best to get a trusted person or mentor to review your scholarship application before you submit it. You want to be sure that you’re submitting the best possible application you can. Also, if you have questions along the way. Reach out to the university directly. They’ll be pleased to help!
- Use these winning tips
After you’ve selected the scholarships you’d like to apply for and compiled their respective requirements and deadlines, you can now prepare your application.
Here are some great tips you can use to apply for scholarships:
- Be Authentic: Ensure that you carefully consider the eligibility criteria of any scholarship you want to apply for. You’ll have to meet all the criteria for your application to even be considered. So, don’t waste your time. Also, make sure all information you provide in your application is genuine.
- Be attentive: Due to the large volume of applications they receive, scholarship reviewers are on the lookout for specific information. Make sure you give relevant information as required. However, if you’re asked open-ended questions to gather more details, feel free to share experiences that showcase your abilities.
- Be proactive: Applying for any scholarship can be physically and emotionally demanding. You can reduce your stress by being proactive. Ensure that you contact your referees on time.
- Meet the deadlines: You won’t be able to submit your application after the deadline. So, stay up-to-date and prepare ahead.
- Prepare for interviews: Your interview may be face-to-face or online. Regardless, you’ll need to give the best impression possible. So, practice common interview questions ahead of time. Remember to be confident and smile!
Having read this article, you’re now fully prepared to confidently apply for your desired scholarships. Don’t allow lack of funds to stop your career goals, there’s definitely a scholarship out there for you. All the best!