Almost every young Hungarian student or recent graduate has ever thought about studying abroad. Most universities in the world offer scholarships on various conditions to attract students and allow them to see the world and stronger possibilities. In this article, we have collected 7 simple tips for getting a scholarship abroad. Follow them, and you’ll see that with patience, planning, and hard work, you’ll go a long way.
A stereotype exists that international programs are unreachable and getting into them is almost impossible for a regular student. Most people get scared of this fact and don’t even start looking for scholarships to study in another country, some doubt whether they can win a scholarship and get paralyzed because they don’t know how to start, and others try several times, fail, and give up in the end.
Applying for scholarships is not complicated, but you have to know exactly what to do. There are no mysteries or secrets in winning a scholarship – just the actions you can take now. The opportunity won’t come just because you want it. You’ll have to defend your candidacy and work at it. And here is how you do it:
#1. Define your preferred field of studies
If you don’t know very well what you want to study, you end up applying to all the calls without ever convincing the universities to accept your application.
Why is this strategy bad? It’s because of two reasons. First of all, because your “copy-pasted” 100 times piece of the non-adapted text shows a lack of interest, and no university is interested in an unmotivated student. Secondly, you will get exhausted preparing so many documents.
#2. Start preparing as early as possible
It is not enough to begin your preparations two weeks in advance and then quickly look for a scholarship that matches your studies. It never works!
In most of the applications, you will have to apply for admission and scholarship at the same time. Programs like Chevening or Fulbright, on the other hand, accept the applications for the scholarship first, even before applying for admissions. Many people will recommend you to apply only for these programs, but of course, their calls offer only a limited number of scholarships, with a maximum of 20 to 40 per country in the best-case scenario. So, if you want to expand your possibilities, you will have to think about doing deeper research and applying for more programs.
With an investment of 2 to 4 hours per week, you can calculate about 6 months of preparation to be able to win a scholarship. What do you have to do in these 6 months? Search for scholarships, define your preferred profile, and prepare documents. You can also look for useful tips on passing the interview or writing a motivation letter (or simply find yourself a good admission essay helper to consult you), as many universities include these stages in their enrollment process.
#3. Look beyond the typical scholarships
Google the word ‘scholarships,’ and what do you get? As everyone searches online for the same calls for applications, the same scholarships always come up. They are the scholarships that everyone has looked at or the ones with a very close date. Thousands of people apply for them, so the amount of competition for a place is significant. It does not mean they are bad or unpassable – just harder to get in.
You can also see outdated calls for applications that no longer exist or those where the conditions have changed, and you can’t apply.
On the other hand, the less well-known or new scholarship calls receive only a couple of applications, or sometimes none at all. Governmental programs are also an excellent choice for you. Before applying, do not forget to do research and ask the other students about their experiences.
#4. Do not limit yourself with just one program
Your application for a study program or scholarship can be rejected for many reasons, and sometimes it has nothing to do with you. Some calls for applications have different priorities, or, all other things being equal, they have given preference to another candidate. You can’t control everything. Even less so if you only apply only to well-known scholarship calls.
This is the main reason not to bet everything on one scholarship alone. If you apply for five scholarships, you don’t depend on chance. But more options don’t mean less quality, so you should also adapt every response to the needs and values of every chosen scholarship.
#5. Read carefully and understand the objectives of the call
Every scholarship call, be it national or international, university or foundation, always has a specific objective. Scholarships are not offered to please students. Governments, foundations, companies, and universities that provide scholarships want to achieve a particular result with them.
Universities usually want to attract the best students. Many foundations want to support specific projects in their area of action, and governments want to facilitate access to education or develop the country in certain areas.
Students often apply without knowing what profile they are looking for; they prepare a generic application without highlighting anything. If the call for applications clearly mentions that environmental involvement is positively valued, why not highlight your volunteering with Greenpeace or a local ecology-oriented organization in your application? If a government says it is looking for civil engineering profiles, why are you applying if you have a degree in philology?
#6. Show your motivation
Explain in the motivation letter why they should accept you and not someone else. This letter is your only way to explain why you are the best candidate. Don’t waste this opportunity.
Don’t speak generically in an impersonal document: nobody likes to receive a random letter. Demonstrate your writing skills at your finest.
#7. Prepare your documents in advance
The standard documents are:
- Always the CV (or resume).
- The letter of motivation.
- Often a recommendation letter from a teacher.
Administrative documents always include a copy of your passport, diploma, and transcript. Don’t delay asking for them at the university: it can take weeks for these documents to be issued.
Many mistakes are made here: using the wrong CV format or sending generic letters without ever highlighting the critical elements of your profile. Preparing these documents at the last minute is also a big mistake, so try to take care of them in advance.
Where does one find international scholarships?
On the internet, obviously. There are lots of sites and projects that can help you find a scholarship to your taste. You can also ask about them in your university’s international mobility center.
There are many – too many – rumors on the net about scholarships. There are many hoaxes and semi-truths, which cause more doubts and questions and solve nothing. Always double-check the information you find and avoid fraudulent resources, be sure to prepare early and try to look further, and you will get your scholarship fast enough. Good luck!