4th February 2023
  • 9:11 pm Through the Eyes of Ides Ofune – Women Shouldn’t Have to Choose Between Motherhood and Higher Education
  • 11:32 am Meet the 2022 shortlisted authors for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.
  • 5:13 am 6 African startups among World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2022 cohort
  • 1:01 pm Canadian Based NGO GoldenKes Foundation holds First Empowerment Program in Nigeria 
  • 5:38 am Meet the 6 Africans shortlisted for 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize
  • 7:49 am Facebook invests in fibre optic cables to improve internet access in Edo State

If you are from a developing country and have intentions of furthering your studies, scholarships are one sure way of doing it. They make studies easier, ensure you have a seamless stay abroad and could even boost your career profile. However, getting this opportunity seems to be an herculean task for most people. They do not know how and where to start. Thankfully, if you are reading this article, then you are in a good place. You will learn the basics of how to prepare yourself to ensure you put your best foot forward.

Understand your “why”

The first thing you want to know about scholarships is to understand your “why”. Why should funds be invested in you and your future? Why should university institutions, organisations, foundations and even individuals invest their hard earned funds in your studies? What do you have to offer to society should that they should risk putting that much investment in you? This question is as much personal and fundamental. It underlies further questions that will be posed in this article. Once this is in place, it becomes easier to make work and career choices.

Work or Volunteer for sectors you want

Now that you understand your “why”, you should clearly demonstrate this in your career and work choices either paid or voluntary. This means that you will choose jobs that promote your answers to your “why” questions or volunteer for causes that show that you intend to adhere to them. For example, if you believe in sustainable energy for Africa, then your paid work should be in such sectors or you should volunteer for organisations that promote sustainable ways to conserving or using energy. This means that your career choices should mainly breathe, eat and sleep sustainable energy. Of course you could have other interests but it is very helpful that the main ones are in line with sustainable energy. You know the areas of focus you are interested in, so start making reasonable career choices.

Get good grades

I have touched on volunteering and paid work as this is non negotiable. If you are still studying for your undergraduate degree, then you should strive to make a good grade. This puts you in a slightly higher position than others who did not. See it this way – having good grades gives you more points as in a point based system. In some courses and universities, this is non-negotiable. It is a must. It demonstrates to the examiners that you possess scholarly abilities to undertake further studies, It also shows that you have the capacity to put yourself under discipline and are able to excel academically which could be applicable to other areas of life.

An excellent statement of purpose

The next point is to put forward an excellent statement of purpose that encapsulates all your academic and career experiences. Your statement should capture your “why” in a very clear manner. It should tell the examiners what you have achieved and intend to achieve for the future, It should also tell of your future plans and goals. As much as possible, try to be specific and not vague. Give concrete examples. Your statement should really set you apart from others and paint a convincing picture. Given that you may not have the opportunity to be there physically to defend yourself or convince them. the examiners see you through your statement of purpose.

Put all your documents together

You need to also put all the recommended documents together. Get your transcripts and original certificates. Speak to your past lecturers and managers at work, for those who have work experiences, for letters of recommendation. They should be able to speak about your capabilities and behaviour which must be positive of course. Ensure you have all these at hand before you apply.

Apply early

You must also apply as early as possible. You do not need to wait for the deadline before submitting your application. As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. An early application may just put you ahead of others as fatigue could set in for the examiners as they check thousands of later applications.

Speak to past beneficiaries

You need to reach out to others who have gotten past scholarships. Ask them how and the specific thing they think they did to get the scholarships. Most people are always more than willing to share their stories. On this site, we have taken the pain to interview past scholars and they have shared their stories to help others.

Apply far and wide

Finally, put in as many applications as possible. One is never enough. Do not let rejections discourage you. They are part of the process. Search for universities far and wide in countries of your choice. You only need one positive acceptance to catapult you into the height you deserve. See yourself as a winner already. You have put in the work so you deserve that scholarship. You deserve to get more knowledge to enhance your career.

All the best!

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