Scholarships and Grants

institutions of higher learning

Are you a young African looking for scholarships and grants to complete your education in North America or Europe, or perhaps Australia? It is a bright, shiny dream, but to bring it to pass you need to learn what steps to take. Scholarships and grants are not tossed out like candy to the spectators at a parade. You must earnestly seek them out by research, and then carefully apply for them. Here are the basic steps you will go through.

Each step may have more than one part.

Step 1 - Available Scholarships/Grants?

The first step in finding scholarships and grants is to know what field of study you want to explore. Perhaps you can put down a second and third choice, just in case. You may already know which country you want to study in, if planning to go abroad. If not, your next step in this stage must allow for narrowing down to one or two countries.

Get on the internet and do good research into the opportunities, universities and colleges, and just what courses of study they offer. Make lists of the ones that interest you the most.

If you don't know which country you want to study in, you must allow time to spread your research to a number of countries. Each one will take quite a while. (In preparation for this page I looked up sites in Canada and found a great deal of information! It could take many hours just to research what is offered in this one country).

After you have narrowed down your lists to just a country or two, and maybe three or four colleges or universities, you will want to learn more about their qualifications for scholarships and grants, or costs and limitations, you will cross some off as unacceptable, and narrow down your list still more.

Once you know more clearly in what country, and at what college or university, and which course you will study you are ready to narrow down or intensify your search.

Step 2 - Narrow/Intensify Your Search

The steps to finding scholarships and grants should be similar to other countries, so let's take Canada as an example, for your search for scholarships and grants. I would suggest you start with the websites set up by the government to guide you. Here are three sites with plenty of information!

Canadian Bureau for International Education

International Scholarships (This site is both for Canadians wanting to study abroad, and international students wanting to come to Canada).

Education au/in Canada

Some of these sites are set up in such a way that you need to be able to click on the program you plan to take, - even which university, before you are shown all the options That is why stage 1 was all about deciding which courses and which schools you are most intersted in. Remember, if you come to a dead-end, you can always trace back a number of steps, using the browser's back button, and start over again. In fact, count on doing so! You need to be very persistent when applying for scholarships and grants.

Once you have found the scholarships and grants you might apply for, check them over carefully to see whether receiving one would exclude you from receiving another, or if you may have several at once. Also, which ones you may have to compete for by writing exams.

Step 3 - Choose Some and Apply

This is where you begin your applications for scholarships and grants in earnest. Print out the instructions for each one, and follow each point carefully to comply. Gather all the documents that they ask for, and double and triple check - yes, check everything even more than THREE times! Ask others to proof-read your application data to make sure you have it perfectly correct. Any sloppiness here could mean you fail to get the scholarships or grants.

Mostly, they want proof that you already have the basic background education that will make you a good student, and that you will be able to study fluently in the language of that country.

It is also important to start all the above research early enough so that you can get your applications in by any deadlines. Sometimes these deadlines are half a year or more before you would actually start your studies at the university of your choice.

If all the doors seem to be closed in one country, or to attend the university of your first choice, do not despair. Start all your research again in another country or place. See what scholarships and grants are available there that are just right for you. out of hundred and thousands.

Note some other options too. You should maybe look into the colleges that offer free tuition if you are willing to work for the college. There are some like this, although they don't widely advertise it. I have found this information though, on the individual websites of some colleges, and the clues came in my google search for free colleges while looking for scholarships and grants.

Step 4 - The Process of Acceptance

Hurrah! You learn that one or two colleges or university are interested in you, and are considering you for a scholarship!

But this doesn't mean that all your work is done. Now you must remain alert, and cooperate with the school to go through all the steps they ask you to do. You may also have to weigh whether the scholarship they want to offer you will be enough to help you go to school there and to stay at your studies. Not all scholarships are for the same amount of money or guarantee all your expenses will be covered. You may have to say a polite, "No, thank you," and go back to your search for a good scholarship.

Some scholarships will come with conditions attached. One might insist that you will have to work for a certain company or organization for a number of years when you graduate, in return for the scholarship. Another might have rules about not taking any part-time job while studying, not being able to marry, or many other things, and if you break any of the conditions, you are expected to treat the scholarship money as a loan, which you will have to pay back. You no longer have a free education.

A scholarship can be a great thing, but it can also, in some circumstances, feel like a yoke around your neck. That is why I say, research the scholarships very carefully. Read every word about them, and then, decide very carefully, to which ones you will apply. Keep all the rules, and watch for any notification, by mail or email, that something is changing.

At the same time, you should realize that a lot of financial institutions and big businesses, and even the universities themselves, really want to help people get an education which they would not be able to do without the scholarship. They usually intend to be helpful - they just don't want to seen as throwing their money away on you. So work at showing them what a great investment they make in your future if they help you out! You will make them glad they gave you the scholarship, or grant.

Stage 5 - Enjoy Your Scholarship!

your degree when you graduate

If you have stayed at it, you will eventually reach the stage where you are going to school on the scholarship(s), or grants, and learning many new things. Allow yourself some pleasure and delight in your situation. Some day you will show the world what great things you will accomplish with your scholarship-funded education!