By Women4PeaceTech Cofounder – Quratulain Fatima
“Quratulain Fatima is a Weidenfeld Scholar from the University of Oxford. She is the winner of a number of foreign scholarships including Chevening, WHT, Vickynoon, and WorldBank-Joint Japan Scholarships. She is also the recipient of a number of competitive prestigious fellowships.”
Scholarship season is about to begin very soon. Many among us aspiring for foreign education and better opportunities in life get anxious during this time. The whole process of applying for a scholarship to a foreign degree seems overwhelming. But if you can break the process into steps and do the necessary preparation, it gets very easy. I know this because once I was in your place looking at placements, applying to different universities and hunting for scholarships. I was able to get many prestigious scholarships and was eventually able to study my dream degree at the University of Oxford.
During that time I was able to get a number of tips and guidelines from people who have done this before me. I decided to compile the tips and share them for the benefit of others. It must be noted that they are general tips for applying for a foreign-funded scholarship to study a university degree.
Let’s start with the basics:
- Always prepare ahead of time and that is actually well before the time of actual scholarship opening. Plan your IELTS, TOFEL, GRE at least a few months before the scholarship opening. Try to see what are the ideal scores that may ensure your entrance into a specific scholarship. Mostly 7 and above at IELTS is considered a good enough score. Moreover, some universities do let you know a certain score required for their admission so if your aim is to enter a specific university through a scholarship; you may want to consider that.
- Familiarize yourself with requirements of the documentation of a certain admission or scholarship by reading through the scholarship/admission page. Never skim through it.
Know what is needed:
- All scholarships require you to either answer some questions or write an essay to assess why you are suitable for a certain scholarship. This essay aims at gauging your education, experiences (work and otherwise), your future goals and MOST IMPORTANTLY your fit with the goals of the scholarship.
- Again do read up on the scholarship you are applying to. For example, if you are applying to Weidenfeld scholarship at Oxford they have a web site http://whtrust.org/ where you can look up their goals, previous scholars, etc. In the same manner, read up on Chevening or other scholarships as required. Scholarships can be searched easily on the internet through any of the search portals.
Personal Statement is Your Story
- Personal statement/statement of purpose or essay is undoubtedly the most important part of your scholarship application. A personal statement should flow as a story. It should link your education, work experiences, the course you are applying to, and future goals to the scholarship goals. You can use personal examples but everything you write in the statement must be backed by evidence. The reader should be able to see your statement as genuine and standout among other applications.
- Many applicants take advice from previous scholarship winners but do remember that you must not plagiarize someone s journey just because it’s extraordinary. Write about your own journey in your own words, it doesn’t have to be glamorous, it has to be genuine only then it will be unique.
- Use statistics, data for elaborating your experiences. They save space and are more convincing than mere words.
- Always follow the word limit guideline. You must treat every word you write as gold and must remain in the word limit. This will show not only your discipline and commitment but will save your application from disqualification.
- Read and re-read your statement, make it coherent, edit it and let your friends your mentor read it and give you feedback. Avoid grammatical mistakes and use the right punctuation.
- Remember in case of a scholarship application, the First impression is the last and only impression you are allowed to make.
References are Important
- References are very important but you do not need your college s principle or head of the organization reference to look your best. You need references from people who actually know how you did at school or are your immediate supervisor.
- You also do not need a stellar reference you need a personal one where someone can genuinely talk about you and your work.
So choose your referees wisely.