Being able to broaden one’s horizons through the opportunity to study abroad is a dream of many students. The international exposure in a diverse education environment enables the cultivation of both knowledge and experience in various aspects, including cultural values, life skills, and many more. Although, it is worth noticing that studying abroad can take cost you quite a sum, especially if you wish to study in universities outside of Southeast Asia. Luckily, there are many scholarships and tuition waivers that enable international students without a strong financial background to apply to study at overseas university.
Having the opportunity to receive full scholarships from both Erasmus and TL Stiftung (a private funding in Germany) in 2016 and 2017, I share my personal experiences with you below on how to best plan and prepare for scholarship applications to study abroad.
1. Narrow Down Your Scope by Researching Your Target Universities
Most scholarships only allow you to study at certain universities. Therefore, being clear about where exactly you want to study (which country and which university) is the very first step of planning for your scholarship application. Make sure you spend some time researching the universities and countries to find out which one suits you the best.
If you are unsure where to begin, you could attempt to approach the career counsellor at your college or home university to seek for advice. You’ll be surprised how often your local universities may have partner relationships with other international universities abroad – which would make it a lot easier for you to apply for grants or shcholarships.
2. Carefully Understand the Requirements of Your Target University
There are inevitably different eligibility requirements for every scholarship programs. However, below are three common factors that you should take note and ensure you plan to have in your current portfolio to strengthen your profile and application.
English Proficiency: If you are from a non-English speaking country, you will be required to obtain a certain English qualification (such as IELTS, TOEIC or TOEFL) to prove your English language proficiency. In some cases, certain universities will recognize your academic progress if you study your courses in English at your home university or college.
Voluntary and Leadership Experience: The scholarship committee will always look for students who are able to demonstrate strong academic capabilities while maintaining an active co-curricular track record. By participating in societies, competitions and volunteering work, you can show that you’re able to contribute to the student community and develop strong leadership skills. You should also attempt to take the opportunity to volunteer for leadership positions at the committee level of societies, as this will often help you stand out even further compared to your peers.
Academic Performance: Achieving good academic results is definitely a huge advantage as it proves that you are disciplined and have a positive attitude towards your studies. However, if you did not perform exceptionally well, you can instead show your improvement progress throughout the years and your ability to learn quick and apply your theoretical knowledge in real-life scenarios.
3. Develop a Positive Attitude and Resilience
Applying for scholarships is not an easy task for sure. You will have to go through many stages including individual interviews, group interviews, and at times even case study sessions. It can be a very long and challenging process, so keep in mind that you must be willing to give your best and be focused during the interviews.
If you fail, remember that it is not a matter of life and death. You don’t have to be upset because you were competing with other excellent people out there. Instead, learn from your mistakes, seek for other scholarships and try again – opportunities are always there.
In conclusion, these are some of the long-term preparation that you should take into account for a successful application for a scholarship. Keep your eyes open for any opportunity available and be on time to submit your application, because missing the deadline is one of the worst ways to lose a scholarship.