How I Scored A Scholarship Even With GPA Of Less Than 3

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Doing not too well in school is not the end of your academic journey. Our contributor, Suci, proves that scoring a scholarship for a Master’s Degree even with a lower GPA is not impossible, it just means that you need to work thrice harder.

I was not one of the best students in the class. I knew it right away when I received the not-so-great GPA out of the eight semesters that I had spent in my undergraduate study. I happened to be the student who needs to re-take one mathematics subject in the middle of a long semester’s holiday as I got D mark and struggled so much to rectify the low scale GPA. But one thing that I know for sure since I was still a high school student is that I want to go study abroad.

My final GPA was 2.98

Studying abroad required so much money and energy. The latter became my focal point. As I have the limitation on financial resources, looking for a scholarship was the only option. Based on my observation, most scholarships put minimum GPA of 3.0 as one of their initial requirements. Hefty amount of energy was needed to be patient and stay focused.

I spent 4 years of undergraduate study being a very active student, thanks to the University’s atmosphere, by joining some student clubs and organisations. This allowed me to invest my time to create extra values and skills, as I knew back then that academic excellence was not my strong point. While my friends were enjoying their movie night at the weekend, I spent most hours on administrative works at the student union voluntarily.

Though, I still tried to rebalance everything and created several strategies to at least maintain the GPA at minimum 3.0. Long story short, I ended up having 0.02 less than the minimum target that I had set.

Life after graduation

Back to my journey to find a scholarship, I found that many scholarships require work experience by minimum of 2 years. My initial plan was to get a proper job where they would tie me up and gave me the opportunity to grow more. Then, I got a job where they tied me for 3 years.

This job was a particular development program where grades and practical projects were part of it. Again, I struggled to reach a high grade. The HR representative even had to sit down with me to improve my scores as I was the bottom performer based on the program’s tests. However, after some time, I was chosen as 1 out of 3 people in a special acceleration program. As you may guess, it was not because I was at the top three when it comes to grades, but rather because they saw different values on me that I have shown during the work.

Career life was a challenge for me. Nevertheless, I guess everyone would be agree that working life preserves different obstacles compare to study life.

Action and action

I started all scholarship preparation right after I passed the 2nd year of work. I did all the scholarship’s nitty-gritties every night, after I spent 8 hours of office life. As precisely said by the gigantic Alibaba’s owner, Jack Ma: “What you do after work, determines your future”.

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Some of the books that helped me to create the plan over the years. (Photo by Suci Ariyanti)

Each scholarship has its own vision and mission that it looks for from the applicants. I put my focus on those scholarships that don’t require first-class rank degree. I read their goals and what they were looking from the applicants and try to suit them with the experience that I had, both university and office life. Rejected-Waited-Prepared-Applied-Rejected. Such news and activities repetitively became my personal headlines over the time, until one scholarship declares the news that made everything paid off.

The pleasant news came from this Swedish Institute Study Scholarship. (Photo by Suci Ariyanti)
The pleasant news came from this Swedish Institute Study Scholarship. (Photo by Suci Ariyanti)

I believe that every single human in this world has his own uniqueness possessed only by himself. For my case, I focused more to increase my other values to replace the shortfall in the GPA section. Catching a scholarship with a low GPA is not impossible, it just means that you need to work thrice harder.

P.s: I made this short video for my junior at Bogor Agricultural University regarding this journey, you are welcome to have a look on it. https://youtu.be/66bLwijQNDg