Ask These Questions and Get Yourself a Scholarship

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Getting a scholarship isn’t easy — there are a lot of things you have to do as part of the application process, and it can take up to a year to prepare for it. In this article, Steffen Hadi shares some tips on how organize your scholarship application process.

Young and enthusiastic people often come to me asking, “Do you think I can get a scholarship?” while making a desperate face, ready to give up. The question is more complex than it seems, as it cannot be answered with a simple “Yes, you will” or “No, you won’t”. To answer this kind of question, I often start with “It depends,” then move to a number of reflective questions.

Do you have a list of scholarship schedules throughout the year?

There are hundreds of scholarship providers for students in Indonesia. It could be from international organizations, NGOs or the universities themselves. Each provider has a different schedule for its scholarship, which means that there are different submission requirements, announcements, and enrollment dates.

All the information can be easily accessed through the internet, so all that is left is your motivation to compile all of those schedules into a booklet that you can keep as your schedule in the scholarship hunting process.

When I was scholarship hunting, my calendar was full of marks. I marked the dates on the calendar with submission deadlines of many scholarships ranging from Fullbright, Chevening, Endeavour, LPDP, and many others. The calendar was my radar, my own whip for working on my scholarship. By knowing the schedule of the scholarship, I know how to manage my time, and how to make my micro schedules.

Do you have micro schedules for getting the scholarship?

A micro schedule is a schedule of the hundreds of things that need to be done in fulfilling the scholarships’ terms and conditions. It includes taking the language proficiency tests, GMAT, asking for letter of references, liaising with your former schools or universities for certificates, and many others. Of course, each scholarship has different requirements. However, more likely than not, there are a few requirements that will overlap. Most likely, a language proficiency test, school certificate, and letter of references would be required for the majority of scholarships. Thus, at first you could focus on fulfilling those requirements. Then, when you have fulfilled the general requirement, you could move into specific requirements such as GMAT, motivation letters, etc. Discipline is the key for completing your own micro schedule. If you cheat yourself by ignoring the schedule, then getting scholarship would be much harder.

For the micro schedule, I made an agenda containing hundreds of small tasks that I must fulfill. I also paired those small tasks with specific requirements for each scholarship, for instance:

IELTS (Endeavour: 7.5; LPDP: 6.5; Fullbright: (TOEFL only))

Letter of reference (Endeavour: 2 academics, 1 professional; LPDP: 2 academics, etc.)

The above illustration represent a clear and concise reminder of the following information:

  1. To apply for Endeavour you need a minimum IELTS score of 7.5, two letters of reference from academic professor and one professional person;
  2. To apply for LPDP you need a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, two letters of reference from academic professors.  

Of course, it requires dedication. I was working full time when I managed to fulfill these schedules. I remembered I took my entire annual leave for a year just for working on my scholarship applications.

Have you started writing the essay and motivation letter?

The essay and motivation letter are the soul of your scholarship application. In my previous article, I discussed about this topic specifically. Even if you have high IELTS and GMAT scores, or if you have a good reference letter, all of this could be overshadowed by the outstanding essay and motivation letter.

These two things are what make your application you. They are your channel to introduce your personality to the examiner. Certainly, these writings cannot be done overnight. To make the writings, you need to carefully reflect your motivation, advertise yourself in a smart way, and consult with other people (i.e. your friends or mentors). Do not be lazy on this one!

Have you picked your interest and applied to the desired universities?

Many scholarship providers from NGOs or international organizations require the letter of acceptance (LOA) from the universities you have applied to. To fulfill this requirement, you need to apply to the desired universities even before applying for the scholarship.

Picking universities is not like choosing candies at a supermarket. It requires careful consideration. The application to the university is not less important than the application to the scholarship. So, you must take this seriously. Fortunately, many requirements between the scholarship and university application overlap, hence, once you receive an LOA from a university, at least 40% of your micro schedule must have been fulfilled.

In addition, please note that you can defer the enrollment year in many universities. So, if you (touch wood) fail in the scholarship application, you can defer the enrollment of the university to another year and try again for the scholarship application.

Do you have the required state of mind?

Perseverance and patience are the two key states of mind that you must have. As many people say, the scholarship hunt is a marathon, not a race.

Just imagine that failure is the usual view and giving up is the thirst that you need to overcome during the marathon to get the scholarship.

If you fail, try again. If your friend succeeds, be patient and learn from him/her. No matter how desperate you are, how many failures that you had, you need to believe that, eventually, you will get the scholarship.

That’s it, after all those questions, I will answer to the people asking me the above question “Yeah, you’ll get it, eventually!”

Featured photo can be found on Picpedia.

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Steffen Hadi
Steffen Hadi studied LL.M. in University of Pennsylvania Law School and Wharton Business and Law Certificate of the Wharton School at the same university. He was the Class President of Penn Law LL.M. Class 2016, Penn Law Students Representative in University of Pennsylvania’s council, and international associate editor in Penn Law Journal of International Law. Steffen also interned at a prominent international law firm in Philadelphia. Aside from LL.M. Steffen also holds a Sarjana Hukum (LL.B. equivalent) from Parahyangan Catholic University. Steffen has been practicing law as a corporate lawyer in Jakarta and Singapore. Presently, he is a senior associate in a prominent law firm in Indonesia and independently assisting few legal issues for start-ups. In his spare time, Steffen is a movie freak, loyal runner, and outdoor trekker.