News Mar 3rd 2017

8 profound tips to find a graduate school scholarship

student in glasses

So, you're about to graduate from university, and you are now in themarket for a scholarship to help you achieve your Masters or PhD studies. Finding a scholarship can, in itself, be a full-time job. Here are eight tips to help you do more focused, time-efficient searches and applications.

1. Begin early

The earlier you begin, the more applications you will be able to put in, and the longer the lead time for deadlines. Universities and colleges have a specific amount set aside for funding scholarships, and you want to be first in. Use scholarship databases in addition to researching the scholarships offered by the universities or colleges you want to attend.Look for private scholarships as well: there are many companies that offer scholarships, such as MasterCard and Santander, as well as world organizations like the World Bank.

2. It's a numbers game

The more scholarships you apply for, the greater your chances of being awarded one are. The old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket is true for this. While numerous applications are onerous in terms of the number of forms you must fill out and application statements you need to write, it will serve you well in the long run, as you increase your chances of getting a scholarship. You may even be offered more than one.

3. Look for a fit

Look for scholarships that are specific to your field of study, rather than general scholarships that have no specific subject requirements. If you are in the field of sciences, for example, it makes sense to apply for scholarships allocated to that specific field.

You could also look for scholarships where you match the prescribed criteria relating to, for example, religion or gender or your country of origin. For example, the Zawadi Africa Education Fund Scholarships for Young African Women is specifically for female students from Uganda, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya to study in the US.

If you're a student from within the US, you could apply for student aid with FAFSA. Their applications open on 1 January, and the sooner you get your application in, the better your chances. If you are wanting to study in another country, there are a whole range of scholarships open to you.

4. Create a calendar

Once you've researched the possible scholarships, pay attention to the deadlines for applications attached to these. Get a calendar together and get organised so you don't miss a final application date.

5. Get recommendations

Having completed an undergraduate degree, your professors will have a good idea of your capabilities and other characteristics. Contact those who might write a favourable reference for you that you can submit along with your applications.

6. Work on your personal statement

Your applications will likely require an essay or some form of written personal statement, which will be scrutinized on a number of levels to assess whether you merit the scholarship. Our advice is to start working on this early and to put a lot of work into it. You will need to demonstrate your commitment to your field of study, your ability to write, and your knowledge of the subject matter. You could add papers you have written to this. It's also a very good idea to get someone else to read it to see how you come across and whether there is important info you could add.

7. Put all your documents together

Scholarship applications may require any number of documents. Before you start applying, make sure all your documents are up to date. Documents includes your undergraduate transcripts, proof of income, your CV or resume, tax information, among others.

8. Read the instructions to apply carefully and follow them to a tee

If you are applying for a number of scholarships, you might be tempted to replicate your applications. This may result in you missing an element of a scholarship. It's important to follow the directions on an application correctly, or your application may be rejected.

Scholarships are out there. Many go unrealized because students and graduates don't dig deep enough or make targeted searches. Don't be one of them and miss out on funding.

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