Three Things to Remember

Youโ€™re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resourcesโ€”including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

As you go and begin your application now, keep the following in mind. First, the importance of applying on time cannot be overstated.

The people on the other side see things as black and white. If you miss your deadline, or apply when youโ€™re not eligible, it will be an outright rejection.

โ€‹storyโ€‹I applied for the PEO Peace Womenโ€™s Scholarship* on time, but the professor who submitted my recommendation did it two hours after the deadline. So they told me they could not accept my application. I emailed back explaining the situation and the why, but this was their response:

โ€œI am truly sorry but there are no exceptions on the deadline.โ€

I spent weeks preparing my application, but all they could see was a two-hour lapse. After sending a few more passionate emails explaining the effort I put into the application, I realized they wouldnโ€™t budge. I ended with a long passive-aggressive monologue criticizing their black and white perspective on things. I never got a response to it, but it helped me anyway as a form of catharsis.

We hope you learn from our mistakes and send your applications in on time, or earlier, because they will not show you mercy.

Second, know that bagging scholarships is a numbers game: the more places you apply to, the better your chances. There are not many high-paying scholarships (>$10,000), but there are plenty of micro-scholarships.

Instead of putting your eggs in a really big basket, try diversifying and applying to more of the small scale ones, where you have a better chance.

Finally, we know getting a scholarship can be a huge ego-boost. However, unless this is a true necessity for your higher education, donโ€™t spend time on this at the expense of filling out your applications, which is what will decide whether you have a chance to go in the first place. This should always remain a second priority.

Final Thoughts on Scholarship Applications

We are optimists, so hearing someone say that itโ€™s not possible to do something doesnโ€™t always make sense to us. Now we know from experience that it is possible to obtain scholarships and fund oneself through other means. We are not discounting the effort it takes to apply or the very low chances one has of obtaining them. We are simply saying itโ€™s possible, and worth giving a shot.

First, start with your immediate seniors and ask them about the ones they have heard of (or obtained). Next, hunt for these in crowdsourcing groups on websites such as Reddit and Facebook, where you have access to the knowledge of the masses. Finally, if you want to go the extra mile, do your own research through the websites we mentioned and curate your list. We didnโ€™t want to just give you the tool here, though. Out of personal curiosity, and to save a few hours of your time, we found a list of 20 general and 10 women-specific scholarships you can apply to. Start from there.

Apart from scholarships, you can also fund yourself through assistantships and part-time jobs. The former pays well and may even waive your tuition altogether, while the latter can be used to offset your living expenses. If neither of these concepts are widely prevalent in your country, they may seem extremely attractive at first. However, because they are attractive, the demand outweighs the supply. So begin your research early in both cases, and keep a conscious eye on the number of hours youโ€™re signing yourself up for (especially for a part-time job that doesnโ€™t add direct value).

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