How to Find, Apply & Get a Scholarship to Study Abroad

Every scholarship journey begins with applying, and getting a scholarship to finance your study gives an immense joy that cannot be overemphasized. It gives you peace of mind to relax and carry out your study.

Embarking on a journey to study abroad can be a life-changing experience, offering exposure to new cultures, ideas, and perspectives. However, the financial aspect can often pose a challenge.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of finding, applying for, and successfully obtaining scholarships to study abroad, turning your dreams of international education into reality.

Scholarships are a great opportunity to fund your university journey, with some covering all years of your university life, including tuition, living costs, and monthly extra expenses.

More and more scholarships are available to apply now and are extremely competitive. So, we will share with you how to find, apply and get the right scholarship and tips on the application process to increase your chances of being awarded.

Types of Scholarships

Before delving into how to get a scholarship, we will explain the most popular types of scholarships in 2024.

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How Apply & Get Scholarship to Study Abroad

1. Academic Scholarships

Academic scholarships are the most common form of scholarship. These scholarships are based on academic merit and are hence also known as merit scholarships. Therefore, they have high GPA requirements and are naturally pretty competitive.

With such high competitiveness, most students have strong academic and extracurricular backgrounds. Scholarships like these are usually full scholarships and fund all years of one’s university education.

2. Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are for students with strong academic and physical skills. If you excel in sports or anything physical, you should definitely look into a scholarship like this.

There is practically no limit to what sport you do, as there are many athletic scholarships, from volleyball to gymnastics or cheerleading.

3. Under-represented Groups/Minority Scholarships

Under-represented groups/minority scholarships are less well-known, but quite a few are available. Some are catered to specific ethnic groups, some are catered to females, and they are known as scholarships for women.

In the past, most university students were men, and scholarships like these have been created for young women who require assistance to pay university fees.

If you are a female, scholarships like these are a great option for you and are also widely available. Going back to the point of scholarships catered towards ethnic groups, even if you are part of a certain ethnicity, it is a good idea to apply as you will still be eligible for it. There are also scholarships catered towards refugees.

4. Extracurriculars Scholarships

Extracurricular scholarships are for students who have average results. They consider academics but mainly focus on other areas, such as community service or leadership.

Hence, if you have a strong background in these areas, scholarships like these are a great consideration.

5. Creative and Arts Scholarships

Creative and Arts scholarships are for those who are talented in drawing, painting, design, music, or dance. Scholarships like these usually require an audition process, where you have to perform for a panel of judges.

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They are mainly offered at universities with an Art, Music, or Dance program or any school that offers a creative field of study.

6. Unusual Scholarships

Unusual scholarships are less well-known, but are also widely available. It is a great way for you to be creative, and it usually involves some form of competition.

For example, one friend of mine actually won a science competition that required applicants to be creative and make a 5-minute video regarding any science topic.

She did a video on Quantum Physics, won the competition, and got a scholarship to fund her university tuition fees. So, research those as well.

How to Find, Apply & Get a Scholarship to Study Abroad

Studying abroad isn’t just a distant dream anymore—it’s an achievable goal for students with the right resources and determination.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to securing a scholarship and making your global education dreams come true:

Researching Scholarships

Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to explore various scholarship opportunities:

  • Scholarship Databases: Websites like Scholarsly, Fastweb, Scholarships.com, and Peterson’s offer extensive databases listing scholarships based on various criteria, including destination, field of study, and eligibility.
  • University Websites: Many universities have dedicated scholarship pages for international students. Explore these pages to discover scholarships specific to your chosen institution.
  • Government and Organization Programs: Some governments and organizations offer scholarships to promote international education. For instance, the Fulbright Program provides scholarships for students from the United States.

Understanding Eligibility Criteria

Each scholarship comes with its own set of eligibility criteria. These criteria may include academic achievements, financial need, leadership qualities, and more.

Carefully review the requirements for each scholarship you’re interested in to ensure you meet the qualifications.

Tailoring Your Application

Crafting a compelling scholarship application is a crucial step. Consider the following tips:

  • Personal Statement: Write a captivating personal statement highlighting your academic aspirations, career goals, and reasons for studying abroad.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Choose recommenders who can speak to your academic abilities and potential as an international student.
  • Essays and Essays: Some scholarships require additional essays or projects. Tailor these documents to showcase your uniqueness and alignment with the scholarship’s values.

Applying Strategically

Applying for scholarships is a strategic process:

  • Organize Your Applications: Create a spreadsheet with deadlines and requirements for each scholarship to stay on top of the application process.
  • Start Early: Begin your scholarship search and application process well in advance to avoid a last-minute rush and ensure quality submissions.
  • Proofread and Edit: Thoroughly review your application materials for grammatical errors and coherence. A polished application reflects your commitment.

Navigating the Scholarship Selection Process

Once you’ve submitted your applications, the selection process begins:

  • Shortlisting Candidates: Scholarship committees review applications and shortlist candidates based on their eligibility and application quality.
  • Interviews: Some scholarships involve interviews. Prepare by researching common interview questions and practicing your responses.
  • Notification: You’ll be notified whether you’ve been awarded the scholarship. Even if you don’t receive the scholarship, consider it a valuable experience to guide your future efforts.

Securing the Scholarship

Congratulations, you’ve been awarded a scholarship! Now, take these steps to secure it:

  • Read Terms and Conditions: Carefully review the scholarship’s terms and conditions to understand your responsibilities and the benefits you’ll receive.
  • Acceptance Process: Follow the scholarship provider’s instructions to accept the award officially.
  • Notify Other Institutions: If you’ve been awarded multiple scholarships, inform the respective institutions about your decision.

Tips on How to Get a Scholarship

Now you’ve searched and finally found scholarships to apply to and probably need a few tips to proceed, I’ve thoroughly listed below 4 important tips on how to actually get a scholarship.

Tips on How to Get a Scholarship Easily in 2023

A well-rounded approach can significantly enhance your chances when aiming to secure a scholarship in 2023. Here are some valuable tips to consider:

1. Start Early to Stay Ahead

Initiate your scholarship search well in advance. This proactive approach allows you to explore various opportunities and meet deadlines comfortably. The early bird catches the worm, and in this case, the scholarship!

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2. Research Thoroughly

Dive into extensive research about available scholarships. Utilize reputable online platforms that curate scholarship databases. Don’t limit yourself to mainstream options; niche scholarships can be hidden gems that cater precisely to your strengths.

3. Tailor Your Applications

Craft customized applications for each scholarship. Tailoring your essays and documents showcases your genuine interest and commitment. Address specific criteria mentioned in the scholarship description.

4. Showcase Your Achievements

Highlight your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, community service, and leadership roles. Create a comprehensive portfolio that demonstrates your skills and dedication beyond the classroom.

5. Seek Strong Recommendations

Request letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or employers who can vouch for your character and abilities. Their insights provide a holistic view of your potential.

6. Ace Your Essays

Master the art of writing compelling scholarship essays. Share personal anecdotes, aspirations, and challenges you’ve overcome. Let your authentic voice shine through, captivating the selection committee.

7. Stay Organized

Maintain a meticulous schedule to keep track of application deadlines, required documents, and submission status. Staying organized eliminates the risk of missing out due to oversight.

8. Leverage Online Resources

Explore scholarship search engines and platforms like Fastweb, Scholarship.com, and College Board. These resources simplify the process by matching you with scholarships aligned with your profile.

9. Network Effectively

Engage with teachers, peers, and professionals in your desired field. Networking can uncover unadvertised scholarships and provide valuable insights into the application process.

10. Polish Your Online Presence

Ensure your social media profiles reflect a positive image. Some scholarship committees may conduct online background checks to evaluate applicants.

11. Be Authentic in Interviews

If your scholarship application involves an interview, be genuine and confident. Discuss your aspirations, experiences, and how the scholarship aligns with your academic journey.

12. Explore Local Opportunities

Don’t overlook scholarships offered within your community or region. Local organizations, businesses, and foundations often provide scholarships to support local talent.

13. Understand Financial Aid

Familiarize yourself with different types of scholarships, grants, and loans. This knowledge helps you make informed decisions about which options suit your financial needs best.

14. Follow Instructions Carefully

Adhere to all instructions provided by the scholarship organizers. Incomplete or incorrectly filled applications may be disqualified.

15. Highlight Diversity and Inclusion

Many scholarships aim to promote diversity. Emphasize how your unique background, experiences, and perspectives contribute to the enrichment of the academic community.

16. Prepare for Standardized Tests

If your scholarship requires standardized test scores, allocate sufficient time for preparation. A strong test score can significantly bolster your application.

17. Seek Feedback

Before submitting your application, seek feedback from teachers, counselors, or experienced individuals. Constructive criticism can help refine your materials.

18. Emphasize Long-Term Goals

Explain how the scholarship aligns with your long-term academic and career goals. Demonstrating a clear plan enhances your credibility.

19. Stay Persistent

Rejections are a natural part of the process. Use them as stepping stones for improvement. Stay persistent, and remember that each rejection brings you closer to success.

20. Be Genuine and Passionate

Passion is contagious. Convey your genuine enthusiasm for your chosen field of study. Scholarship committees appreciate applicants who are driven by authentic passion.

21. Seek Professional Advice

Consider seeking guidance from educational consultants or career counselors. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and refine your approach.

22. Prepare a Strong Portfolio

For scholarships focused on the arts, sciences, or other specialized fields, curate a portfolio showcasing your relevant work and projects.

23. Address Weaknesses Thoughtfully

If you have any academic or extracurricular weaknesses, address them honestly in your application. Explain how you’ve learned and grown from these experiences.

24. Stay Informed About Current Affairs

Some scholarships require candidates to be aware of current events and societal issues. Stay informed and be prepared to discuss these topics intelligently.

25. Apply, Apply, Apply!

Maximize your chances by applying to multiple scholarships. Casting a wide net increases your probability of securing financial aid.

What are the Requirements for a Scholarship?

Different scholarships have different requirements, and it is a good habit to remain organized if you apply for multiple scholarships. You can create an Excel spreadsheet with the different components required for submission.

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In this way, you can see which parts are completed and which are not completed. Most scholarships have 5 main components, namely:

  1. The Cover Letter
  2. Transcripts
  3. Essays
  4. Resume
  5. Letters of Recommendation

1. The Cover Letter

The Cover Letter is basically an introduction of yourself to the Admissions Team, such that they have a background of who you are and why you would deserve the scholarship.

2. Transcripts

Transcripts are your academic results and are easily accessible from your school. Some scholarships require the official transcript to be sent in by your teacher, while some are in the form of a PDF attachment which you can include in the application portal.

3. Essays

Essays are a good opportunity to show your personality and character to the Admissions Team. It is your chance to stand out and be unique by telling your story. Some scholarships require one or more essays with a prompt and word count.

4. Resume

Most scholarship applications will allow you to attach a 1-page resume. If you have volunteer or work experience, you can include them in your resume.

It is also appropriate to include your hobbies or the household chores at home, such as washing the dishes or reading books.

It is important not to include things that you have already mentioned in other parts of your application. Do not repeat them, as they are a waste of space. Your resume is a source for the Admissions Team to see your well-roundedness.

5. Letters of Recommendation

Most scholarships require 2 Letters of Recommendation. Find a teacher, counselor, or even principal close to you. It has to be someone who knows you well so that they can represent you well in your Recommendation Letter.

The Recommendation Letter should showcase your strengths and character. We actually have a previous video that talked about topics like these, so do check them out as well, and I will include the links in the description box below.

Scholarship Interviews

Not all scholarship applications have an interview, and for those that do, it is good to be aware of them and prepare early. You can prepare for these by practicing common interview questions yourself or with a friend or family member.

Common interview questions include: Why do you want this scholarship? or, Why should we choose you among other applicants? If you are more prepared, you will be less likely to be flustered during your interview.

Scholarship Deadlines: When should you apply?

Different scholarships have different deadlines. As mentioned before, creating an Excel spreadsheet of the different scholarships you will be applying for is a good way to keep track of the different deadlines and prevent you from missing them.

You have to apply for some scholarships after your university application; for others, you apply for them before your university application. It depends on the type of scholarships that you are applying for.

FAQs

Can international students apply for scholarships in 2024?

Yes, many scholarships are open to international students. Check the eligibility criteria of each scholarship before applying.

Are there scholarships specifically for online courses or programs?

Absolutely! With the rise of online education, several scholarships cater to students pursuing virtual learning opportunities.

What do I do if I miss the application deadline for a scholarship?

Missing a deadline can be disheartening, but don’t lose hope. Focus on other available opportunities and ensure you’re well-prepared for the next round.

How can I make my scholarship essay stand out from the rest?

Craft a compelling narrative that illustrates your journey, growth, and aspirations. Use vivid language and anecdotes that captivate the reader.

Can I apply for scholarships if I’m undecided about my major?

Yes, many scholarships don’t require you to declare a major. Focus on showcasing your skills, passions, and potential.

Is financial need a mandatory criterion for all scholarships?

No, while some scholarships are need-based, others emphasize merit, achievements, or specific talents.

Can I apply for scholarships in multiple countries simultaneously?

Yes, you can apply for scholarships in multiple countries to maximize your chances of securing financial aid.

Are there scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate levels?

Absolutely! Scholarships are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies, catering to various academic levels.

Can I apply for scholarships before getting admission to a university?

Yes, you can start applying for scholarships before securing admission. However, ensure you meet the scholarship’s criteria once you gain admission.

Conclusion: Go for it!

Although scholarships are extremely competitive, do not let this hold you back from applying. At the same time, be realistic about your expectations. You never know what will happen, and you will definitely miss out on many opportunities in life if you are afraid to try.

Securing scholarships in 2023 is a realistic goal with the right approach. By starting early, conducting thorough research, tailoring applications, and leveraging your achievements, you can pave the way to a brighter educational journey.

Remember, every application is an opportunity to showcase your uniqueness and potential. With persistence, preparation, and passion, you can unlock the doors to valuable scholarships that empower your dreams.

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