A Complete Guide in Winning Many Scholarships at Once A la Kiky Edward
Hi you probably wondering who I am. I am one of the fully funded scholarship awardees. I won Swedish Institute Study Scholarship and LPDP Scholarship, and here are tips and tricks to win scholarship a la Kiky Edward (me).
A. an Excellence Planning
After graduated from my undergraduate study in July, I began collecting information related to scholarships and universities. In fact, just to find detailed information, I need at least 2 months. To summarize all of the important information, I began writing the information on a light note book that I named it “Scholarship” (which actually just to make it easy for me, to review it every night before bed time). List of the top 10 fully funded scholarship you want to apply, and make a priority list from it, which scholarship you want to pursue the most. The other way is just prioritizing it by its deadlines, which come the earliest. When I was looking for fully funded scholarships information, I decided that I prioritized it by its deadlines, which come first serve first (in my intention, I would apply all fully funded scholarships available one step at a time, because this is a scholarship hunting). On my number one priority is LPDP Scholarship. This actually the most generous scholarship from all scholarships I have listed and it comes from my own home country, the second is Swedish Institute Study Scholarship, the third some Erasmus+ programs, and the list goes on based on its deadlines. On LPDP Scholarship, they require me to only apply to the top 200 universities. They gave specific list of their top 200 world universities, those are the destiny for the LPDP scholarship. From there, I began to look for deeper information about those top 200 universities, complete with their departments that I can or willing to apply (for example architecture), admission requirements, and what are the benefit I will got by becoming their student. Collecting this intensive information is actually quite time consuming, but you will get the best planning and decision by doing this. I wrote all those information on my “Scholarship book 1 and 2”.
The most important in this part, is the excellence planning. Make your own life schedule to target winning a scholarship. the life schedule will consist of activities for in order to prepare scholarship application or documents. This will help you navigate your progress in applying scholarships. When you decide a date on certain activities, first decide when you would like to begin your study with the provided scholarship. From the information given about your scholarship targets and deadlines, you can predict for how long usually universities release a LoA (letter of Acceptance), for which that LoA, you will use it to apply to some scholarships that require unconditional LoA in their admission requirement. Also although some scholarships do not require you to have LoA, however, when you face a scholarship interview, you might need a LoA, to show the reviewers that you are deadly serious in winning the scholarship, you know your capabilities, and the universities you want to study already give a green light by accepting you to study in their universities. And the only thing you need is a study funding.
After facing so many dilemma in choosing a department, with too many information I have gathered about universities and their departments, I finally decide to apply to 15 universities, with a quite similar department or subject on each universities.
B. IELTS as a Golden Ticket
After listing all of universities and scholarships’ requirements, you find out that the main requirement is language requirement. Therefore, from here I arranged my strategy in studying the language, which is English. And from those information, I find out that I have to take IELTS test, rather than TOEFL. Which is very new to me. As English is not my first language, and in my home country we rarely use English, I have to make a strategic plan in winning this IELTS score that pass the universities and scholarship requirement, which is in my case is minimum 6.5 . In studying IELTS itself, I know that to earn one band or one score, you have to intensively study at least for 220 hours. You probably you should also know that this IELTS test, is not cheap at all, therefore you have to be very prepared to take the test.
In my IELTS study strategy, I made a very intensive and tight study schedule, which I study at least 8 hours for theory and 4 hours for practice, for only one month. As I have to face other deadlines coming soon too, and this one month time is the time I have, considering also I might fail and take the second test.
After collecting study materials, I got 18 Giga byte books, podcast, and videos that I have to study and transfer it all to my brain. The first two week I was studying in my undergraduate university library, but then I got kicked out because I don’t really have the member card. So I move my study at home. I study very hard in my room whole day, which make my family concern about me and thought I was isolating myself and being apathetic. Plus I stop all of my home chores, which I cook for my family, which I do that since I was in junior high school, and suddenly I stop. Of course, food supply gone, family life is on food supply instability for a month, and all because of me. But you know what you really want, and you do it.
Finally on 7 November that year I took my IELTS test. You can read more on how I study IELTS detail here.
C. Backup plan, apply all scholarship available on earth
I started to follow back my life schedule once I passed the IELTS challenge. However, after that I read so many reviews and experience of people who fail in getting LPDP Scholarship. I analyzed how much the acceptance rate for this scholarship. And I found out from the previous years that from 60.000 application, the only accept 5000 applicants. Therefore, I feel that I really need to make a backup plan. Therefore, I revised my own “Life Schedule”. Not only scheduling for applying LPDP scholarship, but also all other scholarships. Not a single scholarship information I missed, I have to apply all scholarships.
While diving, drink some water. By considering that you would need to get recommendation letter from referees that mostly important and busy people, therefore, you also have to adapt yourself by applying many universities at once, so you don’t have to go back and forth, just in case you got rejected by the universities you applied.
For a better chance, when applying to LPDP Scholarship I also trying to prepare to get LoA from universities that actually on Stuned Scholarship list also. For example I applied to Wageningen University. If I don’t win the LPDP scholarship, I will have second chance by applying Stuned scholarship with the same university LoA. I also applied to KTH Royal Institute of technology in Sweden, which from that university I can apply to LPDP scholarship, but might also go further for the backup plan and a second chance by applying to Swedish Institute Study Scholarship (SISS). I also applied to some universities in Australia which also on the LPDP scholarship list, but also on AAS or Endeavor scholarship list.
Try to get LoA from the best university from each country that has the fully funded scholarship program. Don’t be satisfied just by getting an LoA from a university, but try to get LoA from best of the best University. For example, for the LPDP scholarship I planned to put University College London as the main university. Which University College London was ranked number 2 for their architecture and planning. In Sweden, I targeted KTH, and in Australia I targeted Melbourne University. And here some list of universities that I applied:
– United Kingdom
- UCL (University College London)
- University Of Liverpool London Campus
- University of Birmingham
- University of Glasgow
- Queen’s University Belfast
- KTH Royal Institute of Technology
- Chalmer University of Technology
- Lund University
- Umea University
- Wageningen University
- Melbourne University
- Queensland University
- University of South Australia
Those are some list of universities that I actually applied, beside that there are other list of universitied that I was actually going to applied, but then I stopped since I won LPDP scholarship for University College London.
During my hunting, I also applied to atleast 3 euromaster program for 3 erasmus scholarships. Which actually this Erasmus program is quiteinteresting, where you have to spend your study time in atleast 4 countries in 4 universities. Here are the list of the Erasmus program that I applied:
- 4cities, Unica Euromaster in Urban Studies (Vrije University (Brussels), University Libre de Bruxxeles (brussels), Univeristat Wien (Austria), KØbenhavns Universitet (Denmark), Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spanyol), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spanyol))
- Erasmus Maritime Spatial Planning (Università Iuav di Venezia, University of Seville dan University of Azores)
- Comparative Local Development (Master coDE) (University of Trento (Italy), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University of Regensburg (Germany)
Result of My Universities Applications
I got acceptance from almost all universities I applied, except from university of Glasgow, which they think that my undergraduate university probable has no great reputation which make it not on their eligible universities list for applying to university of Glasgow. Therefore, my application was rejected before it was reviewed. Even after I did an appeal, by showing that my undergraduate university is actually having A accreditation, which is the highest accreditation and had to achieve in my home country. Also for Erasmus 4 Cities program, I failed because they were asking for the institution who did the IELTS test for me to send an additional TRF IELTS online result directly to Vrije University in Brussels. However until the deadline, it was so difficult to contact the institution, which is British Council Jakarta. All of my emails and calls were not responded. Even if they pick it up, the hanged it quick, or they answer it but gave an unclear answer. I don’t know, maybe they were too busy. Therefore, for you who live in a remote area, if you wish your IELTS result to be send directly, it is better for you to inform them at least on the day you take the test. Speak directly to them.
C. Documents for Applying Universities Abroad
Do not be afraid to apply, prepare the best of you and reflect it through you application. Here below are the list of documents that most university asks when you are applying to their universities:
- Diploma and Transcripts (scan one put it on one pdf file)
- IELTS certificate (scan and send as pdf file)
- Curriculum vitae (CV)
Prepare your best cv in detail, for example if you can speak a[anise even on basic level such as A1 or A2, do not forget to include them. Learn how is the best CV ad how detail and informative they are. Normally in Europe we can use standardized format like Europass CV. You can actually apply to other universities outside Europe, such as Australia with the same Europass CV.
Prepare the best Motivation Letter. Write it in humble way, but full of gist and proofs rather than full with adverbs and adjectives. For all universities I applied I used the same motivation letter. I only changed some parts, because basically they will be the same, except you are applying to a very different subject/ department that has nothing related on each other, in this case of course you have to customize it a lot. But in all motivation letter you wrote, do not make any mistakes in mentioning the universities. For the length of a motivation letter, I believe one page only should be enough. Brainstorm your ideas in writing, list all of related information on you notebook, before you write your motivation letter.And the simple structures:
- Paragraph 1: reason why you want to apply to the department
- Paragraph 2: your previous education background and subjects you took that support or relate linearly to your chosen department that you are applying
- Paragraph 3: works experience, volunteering experience, and organization experience that can support and can be harmonized with your next study.
- Paragraph 4: why choose that university that you are applying to, and what are the benefits the university can get by accepting you
- Paragraph 5: only one or two sentences, telling about how you are excited to wait for a good news from them.
Please request this letter to the most competent people who can give an objective reviews about your academic life, and can assure your academic capabilities and have a strong influence in their work environment, do not just ask to a random person. For the first recommendation, I requested it to my lecture, and the second one I take a chance by requesting it to the vice provost for academic. When you are planning to request a recommendation letter to an important person, prepare yourself by bringing some of the document, such as:
- List of universities and scholarships that you are willing to apply
- Curriculum vitae
- Copy of IELTS certificate
- University diploma and transcripts
for more detail about the format of recommendation letter click here. For more detail information in getting many LoA from top universities you read more here.
D. Prepare yourself for the real Scholarship test
After I registered for LPDP scholarship 2 days before its deadline on 20 January 2016. At that time I already had 3 LoA, however I did not upload any of those LoA because I didn’t get the LoA from University College London, which I applied to, and the top rank university as it was ranked as the 7th best university in the world.
It actually takes whole day to finish whole LPDP application process, therefore, never ever try to do it on the deadline day. There are so many thing need to be filled up and uploaded, and have to be customized to be aligned with their format. Remember format and format! Otherwise your application would be rejected. Most important thing to be considered are:
- Make sure all of awards you ever achieve in your life are listed, try to not leave any part blank empty. For example, list of seminars or workshops you ever attended, filled it up full! Although you have attended like hundreds of it, and it is so tiring to remembering it back (what is the title of those seminars or workshops) work on it, find your certificates. Also although those workshops or seminars is not related at all to your academic life, keep listing it. It shows you have an active personality, endlessly seeking for any kind of knowledge and very open minded.
- Always appreciate all award you ever achieve or done, even yourself underestimate it. For example, you ever became a jury for cooking competition in your universities, or got local scholarship during your study. Put it on your scholarship application.
- And never emptied you work experience information. Even you are just a fresh graduate, who only have an internship experience or ever join campus laboratories, or joining lecturers’ projects, all of it fill it up on your application. I said this because one of my friend who is also a fresh graduate emptied this work experience part. And in the test day, the reviewers asked him like, “ why you want to study further for master degree, you even don’t have work experience yet, probably it is better for you to look for those experiences first”. And in the end, the test result for him was unsuccessful.
- Make sure everything you have filled on you scholarship application comes from the best of you.
E. Prepare yourself for the big day, scholarship test day
Preparing for the test day is crazily tense, I could not sleep, panic and the closer to the day, the harder for me to eat food and consistently feel sick. This is normal, it a sign that you are a serious person.
On the LPDP test, after submitting your online application, they will notify you whether or not you pass their document selection. If you do, you can go further for the substantive test, which consist of an Interview with 3 reviews, Leaderless Group Discussion and Essay on The spot. Whole test take only one day to finish.
In this step, before you face the real scholarship interview, make yourself a list of a hundred questions that might be questioned to you, and try to make script of the prefect and diplomatic answers. Establish some main questions, and make the best answers. Also be prepared to the tricky and random questions which might show up to test your insight. For example something related to the scholarship you are applying, like what is their vision and mission. All of those answers need to be prepared in a perfect English. Type all on a worksheet, and print it. This is an important for you to do, to build a foundation in answering scholarship interview and to avoid to answer irrelevantly, which even you won’t feel satisfied with your answer.
Luckily in my city, there were some senior scholarship awardees who made a scholarship simulation test which is actually made to be very similar with the real LPDP test. Started from document verification procedures, Interview, Leaderless Group Discussion and Essay on the spot. With this simulation, all of my panic on the real test jump down, as I know the picture of the real battle field and what is my weakness in this battles. I really want to thank all of those seniors who made the simulation. Therefore, in the real test, I don’t do many obscure behaviors, such as sitting with crossed legs, cut o the reviewers’ comment, bad eye contact, Leaderless group discussion with too much comment from me, bad essay on the spot, those all didn’t happen in the real scholarship test.
Because I found out that I have a very bad eye contact during interview, maybe because I was looking for real answer and vocabularies for those answers, therefore I tried to fix it by practicing answering interview question on a webcam. And then watch it again t, and think of myself, is that the answer that the reviewers want to listen? Or did I forgot to mention important things that actually sells? Or did I speak not fluently. From mistakes I found from those video reviews, I practice more and more on answering and presenting myself on an interview.
On the LPDP scholarship interview, I prepared atleas 4 LoA (I put LoA from UCL on the top of it); and the other LoA I already got I brought it also, but did not show it. I have arranged my documents on one bundle, because the reviewers will look on it again. It could be the first question come out from the reviewers is “do you have LoA?”, therefore I put my LoA on the top of all documents.
Here are some questions were asked to me on the interview:
- Tell me About Yourself!
- What make you special to receive this scholarship/ what differs you from other applicants?
- Why dou you pick this study program?
- Why do you pick this University College London, not MIT?
- How can your english so good?
- Have you decided what dissertation you going to do and do you know any professor in that field?
- What is your weakness?
- In your essay, you wrote about your leadership skill in your business, how do you correlate the leadership skills to this scholarship?
Actually those questions are the most common questions that asked by reviewers to any applicants. If you can answer excellently those first questions, it is very unlikely the reviewers will ask you more. On my interview, the interviewer only ask around 8-10 questions. I was surprised that I feel my interview went very well, not like what I imagined, which might be full of tricky questions. My reviewers waere very calm and full of smile, and patiently listen to my answers.
My tips before facing interview are:
- Make a list of question and answers, and practice and record it on webcam, and later review it by yourself
- Ask somebody that is capable of reviewing your answer. I feel this is very important, as some people might not be able to catch the real question meaning and answer it without a focus, and did not stress the essential answer. Sometime this might cause some new tricky questions show up.
- The last tips; try to answer the question with a belief and confident, but do not show any stubbornness, because even you are too damn smart, they are only looking for a clever people who still accept input from others.
If you got a tricky question such as “what do you think about corruption?”, and you answer, “I completely disagree to corruption”. And the reviewer will ask you more, “do you ever cheat in life?”. Of course this question will question more your strong disagreement. In this type of question, always try to answer diplomatically, for example “I believe corruption is wrong doing, however many influences and push could affect an action. And there is no a perfect human….”
In this interview selection, empower your strong personal branding, as there will be too many applicants who came probably with more achievements and award than you do.
- Leaderless Group Discussion and Essay on the spot
For the next test after interview, I have to face a leaderless group discussion and Essay on the Spot. The leaderless group discussion is actually similar to a group discussion without a pointed moderator, and they will give us a topic with a reading. However, you and the group have to keep the discussion conducive, and well mannered. And for the Essay on the spot test, it is actually an essay test. However, the given topic could be very random, therefore, you have to be prepared for that, and read some latest popular news. The essay could be simply answer like in IELTS writing task 2, with the same length 250 words, as the give a very limited time, just 30 minutes. To read more about how to answer Essay on the spot test, you can click here.
F. Waiting period to receive result
After participating in all of the first scholarship test series, therefore, you just finished one small step in winning scholarship. do not stop here, because you are so confident that you going to win it. You compete in a test, and you fail, that is a normal thing, and winning it is the bonus. So you should continue your other scholarship applications as mention on your life schedule. After finishing the LPDP Scholarship test in other city, I went back to my home city, and continue finishing my other scholarship application. At that time, I work quickly in finishing my Swedish Institute Study Scholarship step 2, as I just received I passed the step 1. There are so many of my friends who feel confident that their previous interview and test on previous scholarship test was smooth, and leave other opportunities from other scholarships. For example, some of my friends who actually had passed the Swedish institute Step 1, decided to leave step 2 because they are so confident in winning LPDP scholarship. However, things gone different, and they don’t pass both of scholarships.
Remember, only stop your scholarship applications journey when you definitely has won the best scholarship you desire, and also the best deal for you.
G. Final Result
Finnaly I won LPDP scholarship with other 1k people from tens thousands people, and also won Swedish Intitute Study Scholarship with the other 23 people from my home country. I also got reserved position for Erasmus scholarship. If you don’t pass a scholarship, don’t make yourself drown in a sadness, but make yourself busy by continuing application to other scholarships and make it better. There are so may fully funded scholarship in this world, and it is for everyone. You just to make it come true.
Other final tips from me is, always keep your spirit and excitement on this hunting. Avoid communicating with unsupportive people, whoever they are. Because in this battle, your spirit is the most important. And you don’t want anybody to ruin it. Do not let yourself contaminated and influenced by bad comments. Read more on other people’s experience in hunting scholarship, to keep yourself motivated. You know what you want the month. If I can do it, you also can.
And for those, who win the scholarship, don’t forget you just enter a new bright world that can be very challenging.
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