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Scholarships Open Doors. Here’s a Primer on How to Find Them.

Many students dream of pursuing higher education overseas as a first step toward achieving their educational and career goals. But paying for it can be expensive, and most international students need help in covering the costs. That’s where scholarships can open doors.

Scholarships are monetary grants given to students to help them further their education at a college, university, or other academic institution. Scholarships are awarded based on a variety of characteristics, including academic merit, diversity and inclusion, athletic or musical ability, and financial need, to name a few, or a combination of these. The values and objectives of the donor or the award’s founder are frequently reflected in the scholarship criteria.

Private and institutional scholarships are the two most common types of scholarships. Private scholarships are given by entities in the private sector— individuals, corporations, community organizations, charitable foundations, for example. Institutional scholarships are awarded by colleges and other educational institutions themselves.

There are many different types of scholarships, such as academic, athletic, minority, and so on. Scholarships are frequently misunderstood to be exclusively offered to students with the highest grades and test scores, or the most spectacular athletic or artistic abilities. Yet many scholarships are available for students from all walks of life. Knowing what kind of scholarships are available and where to hunt for them is the key.

National or International?

Many scholarships can be used for either domestic or international study. While most students choose to study in their home country or nearby, others choose study abroad, where they may gain an experience that is not limited to their native country.

But how do you know if a local scholarship or an international scholarship is better for you?

Many scholarships can be used for either domestic or international study. While most students choose to study in their home country or nearby, others choose study abroad, where they may gain an experience that is not limited to their native country.

In general, a local scholarship provides a well-rounded education near home, while an overseas scholarship provides access to different cultures, experiences, and friends. This article is geared mainly toward those seeking an international experience.

It Pays to Start Early

It may take years to prepare for studying abroad before ever considering applying for a scholarship. The majority of international scholarships are competitive, and receiving one is not automatic, even if your grades are perfect.

You must be able to display abilities in areas that go beyond test scores and grade-point averages (GPAs). These include activities like learning languages, doing community service or charitable works, or excelling in extracurricular hobbies. Accomplishments like these can’t be acquired overnight. Students must prepare well ahead.

Search databases and the Internet to learn how the process is run, what you need to focus on, and what you are missing. Talk to your school counsellors if you have any, and if you are already an undergraduate or postgraduate student, contact your college or university’s international office on a regular basis. Talk to other people who are interested in acquiring scholarships in forums and chat rooms.

Deciphering the Codes

Before applying for a scholarship, get familiar with the terms scholarship donors use to describe qualifying requirements and the financial coverage their award provides.

Eligibility: Scholarship announcements usually have a “Who is Eligible” section that sets out the criteria for who can apply. Is the scholarship for a certain educational institution, or a specific topic of study or major? Do candidates have to be residents of a specific geographic area to apply? Is it for bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral study?

Financial Coverage: Make sure you fully comprehend what the scholarship covers. Does it cover tuition and fees in full, or only it part? Does it include other expenses, like room and board, books and supplies, health insurance and travel costs?

Before applying for a scholarship, get familiar with the terms scholarship donors use to describe qualifying requirements and the financial coverage their award provides.

Maintenance of Support: While scholarship recipients generally are not required to repay their awards, they may be required to meet certain conditions during their period of support, such as maintaining a minimum GPA or participating in a specific activity. Athletic scholarship holders, for example, must play on a school sports team, and recipients of scholarships for graduate study often must serve as a teaching or research assistant.

Documents, Documents, Documents

You will be up to your ears in the number of documents you’ll be asked to provide. Following is a list of some of the most regularly requested ones:

  • Diplomas and certifications. Keep track of your previous studies and keep a soft copy of any diplomas you’ve already earned. You may also need to provide a translation of your diplomas to English or another language, depending on where you are applying. You will almost always be required to have your diplomas translated by an official or authorised translation business and have the translation certified by local authorities.
  • Academic transcripts. These are especially necessary for students applying for scholarships based on academic merit.
  • A justification for your present research. If you are currently enrolled as a graduate student, this statement explains the rationale for your research. It should include a description of why you think your research topic is important, and how you are conducting your study.
  • A CV or résumé: This should include personal information, schooling, and professional experience and accomplishments, as well as internships and training. You might also want to indicate any additional abilities you have (language, computer skills, etc.).
  • Letters of recommendation / References: Scholarship-awarding organisations usually ask for one or more letters of recommendation from someone who can attest to your qualifications for the award. The person who writes the letter, the “referent,” could be a professor, the head of your school, or an employer. The referent usually sends the letter directly to the scholarship provider. It must always include the referent’s contact information.
  • A Motivation Letter: This is a brief letter in which you introduce yourself and explain why you want to be a part of the programme you’ve chosen, and why you believe you should be chosen. Sometimes you must write a full essay.

The items listed above are only examples; you may be asked to submit more documents as part of your application.

Where to search?

Normally, you must search as widely as possible; that is, everywhere.

A good place to start is Al-Fanar Media’s database of Scholarships for Arab Students. This searchable online resource includes details about scholarships available around the world that Arab students are eligible for. Al-Fanar Media’s team filters out low-quality scholarships and only posts opportunities from reputable scholarship providers and

A good place to start is Al-Fanar Media’s database of Scholarships for Arab Students. This searchable online resource includes details about scholarships available around the world that Arab students are eligible for

educational institutions. We believe every student should be protected from scam scholarships and we make sure none of them reach our database.

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Other places to search for scholarships include your national ministry of education’s website and international cultural centres or organisations for international student and researcher exchanges in your native country.

Following is a list of other suggested sites for finding scholarships. Some of them focus on study in a single country or region, or at a specific educational level, and the list is far from exhaustive.

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By: Eman Elbedawy

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One Comment

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