29th February 2020
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Desert Bloom Dream Scholarship

From my experience of interviewing people who have gotten scholarships and from my own personal story, I have developed tips for landing a great scholarship. These tips have been tried and tested by many people. A first step before implementing these tips however, is that you must have a positive mindset. You must develop this self-belief that you can get it, that you are worth it and that you can successfully complete the programme you are applying for. You must rid yourself of whatever negative setbacks you think you have: poor background, poor social networking skills, not intelligent enough, not connected enough etc. These are false beliefs that hold you back from getting that scholarship you want. Let me also put a disclaimer that if you have the personal funds for higher education, this does not apply to you. With your funds, you could pick any school you qualify for and apply. This post is addressed to the many people who are qualified to attend the best schools in the world but no financial assistance. Ok, let’s get started:

Apply to as many schools as possible

  • You need to do this because different schools have different requirements. Whilst you may meet some criteria, you might not fit all in every school. Applying to as many schools as possible increases your chances of fulfilling the criteria of at least one school. Furthermore, the more you apply, the more you refine your writing skills, know the techniques of scholarship application and also learn from your mistakes. I would also advise not limiting yourself to a particular country. Different countries have different requirements. For example, universities in the USA place emphasis on having high scores in GRE but not the UK. You could also check out good schools from non-English speaking countries. I have seen many people miss out of scholarships because they limit their search to just the UK or USA. Throw your net far and wide. There are great schools in Europe, Asia and all over the world where you will learn great skills, get new knowledge and meet great people who can connect you to your future career.

Create a winning personal statement

  • Writing a good personal statement is an opportunity for you to sell yourself. A chance for you to convince the reviewers that you are great at what you do. In your statement, you want to talk about what you are passionate about. You should talk about those concerns motivating you to pursue a career in that field. A lecturer I interviewed talked about gas flaring in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria and that is why he decided to pursue corrosion engineering. For myself, I am concerned about policy making in Nigeria and how we take policies from foreign countries and implement without putting into account our peculiar context. This is why I wanted to do a Master in Public Policy. You should also talk about your past experience if you have volunteered and ways you have given back to the society. Explain what you aim to achieve with the degree and how you hope to change your world with this new degree and experience. If your grades don’t convince the reviewers, your personal statement most likely would. If you need help in writing a great personal statement, send an email to info@desertbloomadvisory.com

Have great recommendation letters

  • I always advise people, don’t burn bridges. Just because you have left the university does not mean you should not keep in touch with lecturers you connected with during your studies. You will need them to write great recommendation for you. In the letters, they would have to say how great a student you were and how they believe in your abilities to excel wherever you are. You want to make sure that your Lecturers know you well enough to give very positive recommendations. Sometimes, your lecturer could have connections in the university you are applying to and he/she may put in a great word for you. I wrote about this here. You could also get recommendation letters from past senior colleagues you have worked with in your profession. Some schools require that if you have had some years of work experience.

As you make your journey towards higher education, don’t let rejection make you feel down. A particular school might reject your application, but it doesn’t mean all schools will. Keep trying and applying, one day, a good school will notice your greatness and offer you.

I always say, you only need one and not two. I got a full scholarship to study at Central European University and that has changed my career trajectory forever. If I didn’t get it at that time, I wouldn’t be on this career path now. Scholarships change lives and if you need one, you should follow these steps I have outlined. Wishing you all the best as you begin the process!

Ides Ofune

Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at info@desertbloomadvisory.com

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