A common misconception about studying abroad is that it can be unaffordable, but there are thousands of grants and scholarships to help you get to your dream university.
Of course, you will probably still have to be a bit careful with your money in addition to the financial aid, but it can still be of immense help.
With so many scholarships, you’ll have to do some work to apply, but here are some tips to make that process a little easier.
Unfortunately, no one will just hand you your scholarship. You have to visit lots of websites, do lots of thinking and do lots of reading and writing too. The more scholarships you apply for, the more likely you will get the financial aid you need.
There is no single list of every scholarship, though there are some websites, like NAFSA’s, that collect a broad range of them.
Beyond that though, here are the sorts of scholarships you should be looking out for:
- Location based: These grants and scholarships are created to entice people to specific countries of cities. They can be provided by the university, the country’s government or even by the government of your home country.
- Program based: These will be attached to specific courses, so are the most evident if you’ve already decided on what you’d like to study. They can be provided by an independent study provider or via the university offering the program.
- Student based: These are reliant on the student and their situation. They could either be offered personal achievement, or other factors like gender, race, religion or disability.
- Organization based: Universities will of course offer scholarships, as will governments. However, you should also keep an eye out for private, non-profit, or heritage organizations that also offer scholarships. They generally tend to offer students scholarships for personal reasons detailed above.
So be creative with your googling- is there anything about you that you think an institution may be interested in to offer a scholarship?
#2 Ask for Help
So yes, there are a lot of options to sift through, but there will be people who can help. Talk to your university’s support staff. Many have an office to help with studying abroad even. Speak with your teachers, professors, the financial aid office, and any academic advisors you may have.
If you can go and speak with these people in person, then all the better- you can answer their questions directly and you won’t have to waste time emailing back and forth.
Of course, you can also ask your friends and family for help- do they know anyone who has studied abroad? Can they help you look for something that might be good?
If all else fails, ask the scholarship funders directly. They will know better than anyone if the scholarship is right for you, or whether there are any others they can suggest.
#3 Adapt Your Resume
After you’ve found the scholarships that are right for you, you will have to start applying. Your resume is vital at this moment. Highlight any international experience you’ve had, include any extra-curricular activities you’ve been a part of and be concise.
You will also have to be diligent with your cover letter, where you make the argument for why the scholarship is for you. What works best is a really personal letter, both in terms of who you are and why you should be chosen. Be passionate- it really comes across in your writing.
It’s especially valuable if you customize your application- institutions can tell if you have just copy and pasted so mention some individual details about the foundation.
If the scholarship is provided by a country where you are not from, research how resumes and cover letters are sent there, and if you’re feeling especially resourceful, send them the application in their own language!
#4 Stay Organised and Focused
If you plan on applying for lots of grants and scholarships, it can be difficult to keep track of all the deadline dates, so keep a calendar or diary handy with both the hard deadlines and your own goals.
It can be quite tiring applying, but remain vigilant and keep a close eye on the details. If you’ve done all of the work, the application process should run smoothly and the sooner it gets done, the more time you can relax once you’ve finished.
#5 Be Yourself
Okay, maybe that advice is a little too cliché, but there is a lot to be said for being honest with yourself and who you are applying to during this process. It’s best not to pretend if you don’t have a particular skill or are wary about something. Be forthright and if you’re excited about something, let yourself be excited.
Scholarship providers want to know their money is going to the right people, so be honest about why you think you deserve it. If you get it then great, but if not it’s not a big deal- there are plenty of other scholarships to apply for that might be more right for you.
If all else fails and you don’t find what you need to help you study abroad, there are always other options. You could try crowdfunding websites like FundMyTravel or figure out if you can work when you go abroad, even if it’s just a babysitting or tutoring job.
Keep organized, work hard, ask for help if you need it and be honest. These rules will serve you well not just in your scholarship pursuit, but for your whole life. So good luck!