The International Scholarships applications season for 2021 is open. If you are thinking about studying abroad and need financial support, this is the moment to start working on your education dream!
It is unsurprising that after the shock of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 and its consequences in the world, many students do not feel confident or are uncertain about what will happen to international education next year or the coming years.
However, as much as the situation does not look great now, universities and sponsoring organisations are carrying on with their scholarship applications, and there are tremendous opportunities around. We encourage you to keep your eyes on the prize and not give up on your study abroad dreams.
Scholarships abroad are competitive; mostly, they have a rigorous application process. Applying is more than submitting documents. There is a lot of hard work involved if you want to improve your chances to win that scholarship you wish for – but it is definitely worth doing it. Adding determination and some patience, you can turn your dreams into reachable goals.
Would you like to know more? Then keep on reading. Here are our major tips to help you make your international study dreams a reality.
Planning: make a good plan
Organisation and planning are an enormous challenge for someone willing to study abroad. To increase your chances, you will probably need to apply to at least five opportunities that would suit your study goals. Maybe even more.
Set up a schedule, spare 1 or 2 hours of your day to work on your applications. When you feel discouraged or think it is a hard task, ask yourself: should I spend that hour randomly browsing Instagram or Facebook or focusing on something that could help me reach my dream of studying abroad?
List the scholarships you are interested in and organise them into categories: the courses available, deadlines, requirements, countries, etc. You can compile this information on a sheet of paper or on a free spreadsheet on Google Drive.
Double-check your eligibility for the scholarships you want to apply. Be objective: there is no point, for example, in applying for a programme requiring professional experience if you do not have any. Review your final school scores and compare them to the scholarship criteria.
Follow the websites and updates of the universities and institutions you are applying for. Make sure no deadline or essential details are missed. We will talk later about finding scholarships, but for now, remember: your hard work will pay off.
2. Documents: organise and keep them in order
Sponsoring organisations and universities request a lot of documents, and you may find several rules and regulations to be followed during the selection process. Therefore, the plan we mentioned earlier must be a timely one. Allow plenty of time to put everything together and follow all the steps.
Go through all the documents requested. You should have, by now, listed them on the spreadsheet you started when you read tip #1.
Note that some documents and forms must follow specific languages and formats. You may have to look for templates on the internet, or look for professionals (like UK Student Solutions) to advise you towards those documents – avoiding the risk of having your application cancelled because of mistakes.
UK Student Solutions can guide you through this route, advising and assisting in your application.
Two documents will be very important: the personal statement and the reference letter. A personal statement is a text written by you, talking about your reasons for pursuing the scholarship.
A reference letter is a letter written by someone who knows you, usually a teacher or an employer recommending you to the award. Most likely, you will submit those documents in the country’s language where you will study; therefore, they must be revised – grammar, spelling and content.
At UK Student Solutions, we can mentor and give you direction, making sure you deliver error-free texts and meaningful content. We will help you avoid generic statements and make your motivation come alive in your written work, through your personal experience. Learn more about what we can do for you.
Sponsors will also require you to provide the translation of your school documents, done by an accredited translator. Be aware: although it would not take long for getting those documents ready, it is not a cheap service. However, it is an investment in yourself. In case you have difficulties in finding professionals in your city, UK Student Solutions partners with British certified professional translators. We can provide this service for you. Ask us for a quote.
3. Study the language required for the scholarship
Fluency in the language in which you will learn is a fundamental requirement for a scholarship candidate. As a result, it is necessary to confirm your language proficiency by submitting results of internationally accepted tests such as IELTS, DELE (Spanish) or the equivalent in other languages.
Any exam must be booked in time – not only to guarantee your place in the room but also to ensure you will have plenty of time to wait for the next session or wait for the tests results. You do not want to miss the opportunity to apply for a scholarship because tests and scores will not be available in time for submission.
4. Personal Statement: showcase your skills
In the statement or on the questionnaire (in case they send one), you will write about the reasons for applying and why they should award you a scholarship. It is time to talk about your qualifications, skills and achievements, putting any shyness aside. It is your moment to shine and show the assessors you are a great fit for the programme.
However, it is critical to be truthful and never exaggerate. Lies can compromise and ruin your application. Once a candidate is caught in a deception, people will lose the trust in that candidate, and there go their chances for a scholarship…
5. Getting a good reference letter
Ask a reference letter to people with whom you have an excellent academic or professional relationship, ideally someone who witnessed one of your achievements. A trustworthy teacher or a reliable boss who will recommend you for the award. Be careful to talk to them beforehand, get at least their verbal okay that they will support you. Do not forget to send them all the information about the scholarship in advance. By doing so, you show consideration – avoiding misunderstandings and unnecessary delays. They will provide you an excellent reference. Never leave it to the last minute!
6. Learn about the country where you will study
Once you decide on a destination (or destinations if you apply for scholarships in different countries), do some research about their culture, their habits and local life. People’s behaviour and traditions there might differ from what you are used to. For that reason, learn as much as you can to avoid surprises and make a conscious decision about studying there. Food, as an example, can always be an issue if the student is not open to try new flavours, because eating habits are always different in another country. Learn about the weather, the general conditions of the country, the cost of life – be ready to adapt. It is not about studying abroad only; it is about living abroad. It is crucial to have a broad view of what you will find and how you will live, in the organisation and in the new city.
7. Find out where to get scholarships abroad
There are several opportunities for people willing to study overseas. Yet, it is necessary to explore and establish which countries and universities are more suitable for you. Start on our website. We post an updated selection of scholarship opportunities monthly. If you attend a university in your country, check if they have agreements for scholarships with international universities.
Look at your favourite universities’ websites. Use the Google search engine. Look for students forums online – you might find testimonials from students who experienced the same programmes or lived in the countries you are applying for.
Do not forget to check leading companies in your study field or professional area. Several multinational companies offer scholarship programmes, as for example some oil industry giants such as Total France or BP. It could be something interesting for you, as big companies look for potential future employees in their sponsored students.
8. Print out and read everything out loud
It looks like a piece of strange advice – after all, we live in a digital age and you will send your application digitally. From personal and from our students’ experience, we know it is hard to proofread on a screen after you have been working on the same documents for many hours or long days. Remember, you have only one shot in that application. Print all and read all out loud, including your CV – even if you think this is unnecessary. Ask yourself: Is the text clear? Does it make sense? Did I leave any question unanswered? Did I leave any blank sector? Revise and correct your typos and grammar with a red pen. Go back to the digital version and edit it. Failing to fill a form sector or missing one question might be reasons for disqualification.
Press the SEND button only when you review everything!
9. Apply Early (Again? Yes!)
Once more, we highlight the importance of starting your application as soon as possible:
- Some documents might take extra time to be ready
- You might have to allow extra time to take a language test and receive the results
- You will recruit a great referee.
Always go back to the deadlines on your list. Do not miss out because you misread the day and time for submission of your documents. Monitor any world time-difference: suppose a London based organisation establishes a deadline for sending documents up to 5 pm and you live in Rio de Janeiro. You will have until 1 pm (Brazil time) to send everything.
Machines do not assess applications. People do. On the other end of your submission screen, there will be people who probably hold other jobs and responsibilities besides evaluating and short listing scholarship candidates.
Once the deadline is reached, those assessors will be inundated with applications and may browse statements more swiftly. You are in a better position when someone reads your story, relates to it, and finds it good enough and fit for their organisation’s money. If your application is in a stack with ten applications because you applied early, your piece will probably get an unhurried and more comprehensive reading where all details will count. Now imagine your documents in a stack with a hundred applications, sent in the last days before the deadline, and the assessors facing a massive volume of work, pressure and the constraints of time.
A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. Colin Powell
Studying abroad is an outstanding opportunity to learn, grow, discover the world and take your professional career to another level. Do not dismiss your study abroad dreams because of the high costs. There are plenty of great scholarship programmes around that will pay for all or at least part of those costs. Still, you only achieve that by making the commitment, planning, organising yourself, following all the steps, and being patient. Stay ahead of the game and fight for your scholarship. It is not easy, but it is possible.
Once all is done, the wait for the publishing of the last list of approved candidates can be stressful. Remember: if your name is not there this time, do not give up. Be audacious, persistent, and positive. If you do not get the scholarship this time, regroup yourself, keep on working and reapply for next year’s opportunities.
Did you like this article? Do you have any question or a comment you would like to make? Get in touch!
Image by Kafai Liu from Splash