Studying abroad at a world-class university can be quite expensive. With the low per capita GDPs of many African countries, the dream to pursue higher education abroad remains just that for many ambitious African students.
Fortunately, there are many scholarships available for bright African students. With a quick search online, you’ll come across different kinds of scholarships for African students—there are fully-funded scholarships, tuition-only scholarships, and partial scholarships. In addition, some scholarships are university specific while others aren’t.
Scholarships are meant to defray costs including tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, insurance, books, cost of relocation, and airfare.
Regardless of the type of scholarship, you’re applying for, it’s crucial that you put your best foot forward. After all, every single scholarship receives hundreds if not thousands of applications.
Here are a few tips to help you make your scholarship application stand out:
Start the Application Process Early
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work it will take to complete the application process. For scholarships with long application windows, it might seem like you have plenty of time. While that may be true, resist the temptation to wait till the last minute to start the application process.
To ensure that you get all the documents organized by the deadline, get started early. For annual scholarships that haven’t opened their application windows, check which documents are required and get them together in advance.
Make a list of all the scholarships you’re interested in, their document requirements, dollar amounts, and deadlines. This will help you figure out which scholarship to prioritize at any particular time.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
To maximize your chances of getting scholarships to study abroad, it’s advisable to apply for multiple scholarships simultaneously. That said, don’t make the error of focusing on quantity over quality.
Instead of applying for every scholarship you come across, take time to find scholarships that you’re highly suited for. Once you narrow down the list, write the best application possible for each scholarship – which will maximize your chances of winning.
Apply for Niche Scholarships
When searching for scholarships, make an effort to find those that are meant for a specific segment of the population that you’re part of. While many scholarships focus on general criteria like academic records and leadership ability, there are others that target certain niche groups.
For instance, there are scholarships aimed at students of a certain gender, ethnic background, unique skills, or even those who have specific challenges. Applying for niche scholarships that you qualify for increases the likelihood of winning.
Read and Follow the Instructions
Every scholarship has its set of guidelines on how to apply. Besides the academic documents, some may ask you to submit a statement of purpose, recommendation letters, and proof of financial need.
Make sure to carefully read and follow the instructions. Not doing so can get your application tossed. For instance, if you’re asked for a 1000 words max essay, stick to that. Following the set instructions will give you an edge over other applicants.
Highlight your Background and Achievements
We all have different backgrounds. When applying for scholarships to study abroad, make sure to highlight unique aspects of your background that make you stand out. Many global universities are aspiring to boost the diversity of their campuses.
For example, if you’re from a nomadic community, you can highlight the challenges that come with that background, how you overcame them, and how it has impacted your worldview.
In the same vein, don’t feel shy when it comes to your achievements. Highlight all the milestones you’ve achieved that give you an edge over the competition. Emphasize activities that show your talents, and ability to lead and support the community.
Request for Letters of Recommendations Early
Most scholarships require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from former teachers and professors or professional supervisors. Choose your recommenders carefully. The ideal person to write a recommendation letter for you is one who knows you well and speaks highly of you and your achievements.
Once you’ve selected your recommenders, reach out to them early and ask them to write you a recommendation. The idea is to give the recommender ample time to write you a powerful recommendation letter.
Furnish them with all the relevant information about yourself and the scholarship program. Lastly, do not forget to follow up to ensure that the recommendation letters are submitted in time.
Seek the Help of a Professional
Applying for scholarships can be hard work, even for those who have done it successfully before. To make the process a little easier, seek the help of a study abroad advisor, school counselor, or a study abroad mentor.
These people can help you to organize the required documents, write essays, and submit your application.
Finally, Don’t Give Up
Have a hard time getting a scholarship? Don’t give up. Save copies of previous applications so that you don’t have to start from scratch with your subsequent applications.
Keep checking our regularly updated scholarship database. Use the filters to find the most suitable scholarship for your needs and prepare your application early to avoid missing out on the opportunity.
Do you want to learn more about studying abroad and exploring new scholarship opportunities?