Note: This post contains advice from scholarship holders who are studying or have studied in different countries on fully-funded scholarships. Feel free to reach out to us if you would like us to ask our mentors any more scholarship related questions.
Did you know that according to Forbes, the price of education in the United States of America is increasing 8 times faster than wages? However, the USA is not the only country with this problem. The tuition fees of colleges and universities around most of the world are skyrocketing, making it next to impossible for students to study at good educational institutes.
Most students now have to rely on student loans to pay their tuition fees and then spend the rest of their lives paying off the huge amount of debt. If you’re one of those students who want to study in a good educational institute in your own country or even abroad, but can not afford to pay large amounts of money, then you’ve come to the right place.
There’s only one solution to your problem – get a scholarship.
Find Appropriate Scholarships:
First things first, in order to actually get a scholarship you will first have to look for a scholarship that suits your needs. Contrary to popular belief, finding a scholarship is easy. Yes, you heard it. It actually is easy if you know where to look. In case you do not know, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
You should start by deciding which type of funding you’re looking for. There are 3 common types of scholarships.
Only you can decide what type of scholarship you need. Do you require a fully-funded scholarship that pays for everything? Or can you afford to pay some of your educational expenses and would like to receive a partially funded scholarship to help? Or you might be looking for a short summer or winter exchange program. Decide what it is that you need and then look for scholarships in that domain.
Browse the Internet. It is the age of technology and you can find almost everything related to scholarship opportunities online. There are whole websites, as well as mobile apps, dedicated to providing students information about different scholarship opportunities around the world. Our website, Full Opportunities is one of them.
You need to go through those websites thoroughly. Usually there’s a search bar at the top left or right-hand side of scholarship websites. If you’re sure about the kind of scholarship that you’re looking for, then just type in the keyword and search.
For example, if you need a scholarship for your undergraduate studies, type ‘undergraduate’ in the search bar and a list of all the undergraduate scholarship opportunities will appear on your screen.
If you want to get a scholarship in a specific country, type the name of the country along with the level of study for which you want the scholarship, e.g. ‘masters scholarship China’. You will then get a list of all the scholarships available in China at the Master’s level of education.
Read the scholarship post thoroughly. Once you get the list of scholarships offered for your desired level of study, read through the list carefully. Be sure to note down the deadlines so you remember to apply within the given time frame.
Now that you know where and how to look for scholarships, the next step is to know what could increase your chances of getting one. Here are 7 ways to increase your chances of getting a scholarship.
2. Write an Excellent SOP:
SOP stands for a statement of purpose and is one of the most important parts of your scholarship application. SOP is also called a ‘Letter of motivation’ in some applications and has the power to set you apart from the rest of the applicants.
According to Fahad Pervaiz, who obtained an Erasmus+ scholarship at NTNU Norway and TU Delft Netherlands for his masters and is now doing his Ph.D. in the USA on a fully-funded research scholarship, a well-written statement of purpose is the main element in your application.
Fahad explains that you can not change your academic records but you can surely write a winning SOP that could help you make up for a not so great academic record (to some extent). A well-written SOP is definitely what we would label as the most important element out of all the 7 ways to increase your chances of getting a scholarship.
The basic points of writing a winning SOP are the following
- Be concise
- Make sure you answer the questions asked by the admission committee
- Make the beginning interesting
- Pay attention to formatting
- Answer the why’s. Why do you want this scholarship? How will it help? Why should they choose you?
3. Choose Your Recommendation Letter People Wisely
Keep in mind that the people you choose as your references or those who write letters of recommendation for your application will be contacted by the organization providing the scholarships. So it is extremely important to choose the right people.
You can get any one of your teachers and sometimes even an employer to write them for you. The person writing your letter should be able to vouch for you and your qualities. Since the scholarship awarding organization will undoubtedly contact the person recommending you, it is significant that you choose someone who is efficient and will respond back to the emails or calls of the selection committee.
Here’s an example of a badly written recommendation letter, where the teacher just wanted to get the job done in a hurry.
Dear Admission Committee,
I am writing to you to recommend Tom to your undergraduate program on one of the fully funded seats. Tom took his 10th-grade history class with me and showed interest in the subject.
He was always on time and participated in classroom discussions.
I am confident he will add value to your college.
Cambridge High School.
Here’s what is wrong with the letter:
The teacher did not write about Tom or his abilities in an enthusiastic way. He did not take the time to talk about his good qualities, as a student or as a person. Although he did not write anything negative about the student, the letter still appears a little forced and feels like the teacher had no interest in describing the achievements or qualities of Tom.
This will make it a little hard for the selection committee to believe the letter and will probably lessen his chances of getting the scholarship, since it gives the impression that Tom was, at his best, an average student.
Pro-tip to ensure that your letter of recommendation is impressive:
Hand your professor/ employer a list of all your achievements so that he/she becomes aware of them and can incorporate them in the letter. You should talk to your professor beforehand as well, in order to ensure that he will be willing to put in some time and energy into writing your letter of recommendation.
4. Have a Good Social Media Presence:
While you’re filling out the scholarship forms, you’ll be asked to provide links to your social media accounts along with your basic information. Keep in mind that the selection committee will most definitely visit your social media profiles on different mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get an insight into what sort of person you are. So it is important that you have a good and respectable social media presence.
Social media presence checks are a part of most scholarship procedures, however, they are the most important when applying to scholarships in foreign countries such as Canada, UK, and Finland. Of course the universities and colleges want to make sure they are not selecting someone who has a tendency to spread negativity in their society.
In short, if your Facebook timeline or Instagram feed is filled with racist and/or ‘religion phobic’ memes or anything that disrespects a segment of people, you can wave your chances of getting a scholarship goodbye. This does not mean that you should hide your social media activities, it just means that NOT being a disrespectful person, in general, can help you go a long way.
5. Step Up your Extracurricular Game:
Noor, who was selected to spend a year in America through the fully funded Yes Exchange scholarship, thinks that extracurricular activities play a huge part in making your scholarship application impressive.
“If a great academic record is the only thing you have, in my opinion your chances of getting selected are less than those of someone who has a mediocre academic record combined with an excellent extracurricular record”, says Noor.
It is a known fact that while assessing a student, the institute will take into account how active you are as a person and a student. This will help them determine who can add the most value to their institute or country.
Here are some extracurricular activities that you should get into and that will increase your chances of getting a scholarship.
- Debating societies
- Adventure clubs
- Volunteer Activities
- Writing platforms
6. Do Adequate Research on the Field of Study You Choose:
Some scholarships in Australia and other countries will require you to apply for a scholarship after you’ve applied to a program at the university. This means that the scholarship application will be made available after you’ve been accepted to or applied for a specific program.
In such cases, questions about why you chose the field of study you did will almost necessarily be a part of the application. It helps if you have researched the field of study you’ve chosen so you know the basics and can confidently answer the “Why this field” question.
If you’ve decided to opt for a different field than the one you were previously in, be sure to have a convincing answer to the ‘why did you change your field’ question. It could be anything, a realization of your interest in the field or an incident that led you to believe that this is what you need to be doing.
7. Keep Applying:
Apply to as many different scholarships as you possibly can. You might not be granted the first-ever scholarship you apply for but you should not lose hope.
There are plenty of scholarships out there offered by different organizations/institutions. There are scholarships offered by governments of different countries, scholarships offered by different universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, and those offered by other organizations.
The more scholarships you apply for, the higher are your chances of actually getting one. Also, you will be better able to point out what mistakes you made in the initial applications and so will be able to improve upon them.
Here’s a list of some scholarships that you should be on the lookout for:
Follow these 7 ways to increase your chances of getting a scholarship, be it in your country or abroad. Remember to ensure that you also try your best to maintain a good academic record as well and also follow the tips we’ve mentioned. There are numerous scholarship opportunities present around the world and now is your chance to make the best of them.
You can also find all of those opportunities on our website as well as our FO mobile app, called Full Opportunities.