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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Explainer: A-Z of Securing Scholarships Abroad for Beginners

Have you just graduated from High School, polytechnic or the university with a Bachelors’ degree and wants to continue abroad?

Studying abroad is a dream come true for most students from developing countries as you get exposed to sophisticated equipment and facilities, world-class research and supervisors, as well as the experience of living in the beautiful cities of Europe, USA, and Canada.

In the paragraphs below, we will outline the 6 basic steps to securing scholarships abroad as a beginner – even if you have little or zero knowledge about how to go about it.

Several scholarships are currently available in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Canada that offer full scholarships and monthly allowances. Here are some suggestions you should check out;

Before we proceed, these are the qualities you must possess as a prospective scholarship finder. I would rather you learn to imbibe them if you are really serious about studying abroad.

  • Be intentional- Studying abroad is not a side hustle, you have to really be determined about it. This will enable to keep going if you encounter hurdles along the journey. If escaping abroad is just your intent, I suggest you really have a change of heart. 
  • Develop reading, speaking and writing skills- applying for scholarships require that you pay attention to detail, read and digest requirements, write CV, research proposals and personal statements, and so on. Even if someone helped you secure the scholarship, no one will help you study and write exams.
  • Dedicate daily hours of your time – I recommend 4 hours of your time daily.
  • Make good use of the internet- Your mobile data should be channeled towards taking Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, Edx, Alison and other platforms, not wasted on Tiktok and Instagram shorts.
  • Be inquisitive- Ask whatever you are not cleared about. The admissions offices of universities abroad will reply your email if you are not cleared about any info.
  • Be friends with your current lecturers and supervisors. They have a serious role to play in this game. I will tell you how later.

Now that you are ready, let us forge ahead.

Scholarships available by categories you should check out;

If you have just graduated from high school you are due for an undergraduate scholarships, and if you have just graduated from the University, a polytechnic, or currently serving the country with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), then a postgraduate scholarship is your ultimate target.

Studying abroad on fully-funded scholarships is even possible while you are still an undergraduate student – in your final year at the university.

It is important to say that securing scholarships abroad is very easy, however it does not always come on a golden platter, efforts have to be put in place.

Exegesis and highlights of the steps to securing your dream scholarships are made in the following paragraphs.

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1. Decide on Your Preferred Program

Actions are pre-empted by intentions. To study abroad either on an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, you must have a preferred course of study. This is narrowed to what is called ‘research interest‘. 

As a prospective undergraduate student, your (IGSCE/WASSCE/GCE/NECO) O’Level subjects. Mathematics, Law, Economics and Computer Science are examples of courses you could pursue.

For your Masters degree, you would have develop a research interest. If you studied Chemical Engineering for example, your research interest could be in Material Chemistry, Environmental Engineering, Petroleum (Oil and Gas). It could be Cell Biology and Genetics, Computational Biology if you studied Zoology or Biochemistry or Photonics if you studied Physics.

However, some underrated courses like sociology, philosophy, zoology, chemistry, arts and humanities are highly funded abroad. So if you studied Social work, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ecology, you have a lot less to worry about as regards funding opportunities.

How do you find your desired programmes?

  • Google has answers to almost everything. For example a search on Google with the words; “research interests in Sociology” would bring up your desired results.
  • You could also read up journal articles on Google Scholar to know more about the latest trends of research in your chosen field.
  • If your undergraduate project still interests you, you already have a research interest.

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2. Find Universities Offering/Scholarships Available For Your Desired Programme

Next is for you to find a corresponding university or institution offering your desired programme. Several ways to do this are as follows;

We compiled a list of top universities in Canada that offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to international students with scholarships and their respective programmes in this link.

3. Check Admission Requirements

Different scholarships have different requirements. While scholarships require you to first apply to your desired school before applying to the school, others do not.

Some other schools in Canada require a minimum of 3.0/4.0 for a Masters degree, schools in the UK accept second-class lower grades, many in USA also accept HND grades.

Some even have CV and Personal Statement templates you should follow before submitting your documents.

Some other scholarships require you to write English Proficiency exams (TOEFL or IELTS), Graduate Record Exams (GRE), others waive them. In fact, some scholarships have different eligibility criteria for different countries, hence it is very pertinent to ensure you read and digest this part of every scholarship before proceeding to apply.

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4. Research on When and How to Apply

These two concepts are more or less like the instructions to examinations. If you fail to adhere to instructions, you are likely not to do well in the exam. 

Likewise, your admission would not even be considered if you fail to adhere to the application dates and how to submit your application.

Some scholarships only require you to send your documents via e-mail to a particular screening committee, professor or selection panel. Others require you to apply online, fill a form, and await the announcement of successful candidates. 

It is advisable usually, to apply as early as possible. Early applications have been encouraged by selection panels so that you are able to beat a host of other applicants. 

5. Prepare Your Documents and Submit Your Application

As you must have known the application period as stated above, it is important that you prepare your application documents before the opening of application for the year you will be applying.

Your documents (Academic transcripts, CV, SAT scores for undergraduate scholarships, GRE, English proficiency scores or letters, Personal Statement, Passport or National ID Cards, Motivation Letters, etc.) should be saved in Google Drive so you that you can simply access anytime and anywhere in the world by few clicks. Once this is done, you should proceed to submit them as required.

One of the documents you will be asked is a recommendation letter (usually 2 or 3) from a professor, supervisor, employer or any other academic staff. This where your relationship with them is well tested.

It is also very important to ensure your documents are well-reviewed and are error-free before you submit them. Documents with errors give a bad impression to selection committees that you do not pay attention to details- one of the qualities I told you earlier to imbibe.

6. Await Your Good News

Once you have satisfied the above, you are now only required to await that positive email. 

Please ensure you submit active emails and make sure you check them twice daily including your spam boxes!.

We wish you all the very best as you begin the journey. Goodluck!

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