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by Damry, University of Tadulako, Indonesia

Getting a scholarship for an overseas study is a competitive process. This is because many people like you want the scholarship, but not all can be awarded. The cholarship money is simply not enough to fund all at once. Also, the scholarship providers want to ensure that only the best, well prepared applicants are selected and so the money is spent rightly and efficiently to what it is intended for. So, you have to be a winner!

Lots of people have won scholarship. You hear this every time. But how have they done this good job? Are they luckier or more superior or intelligent than others? No, they are not! If you ask them about the winning secrets are, they may simply give you the following lists: things to prepare or consider before applying a scholarship.

Academic certificate and transcript
Soon after graduation, do not wait. Obtain your original academic certificate and transcript, and make some copies of them. You need to certify them and, remember, that people at university are some times going somewhere when you need their signatures. More importantly, you need to translate both your academic certificate and transcript. Check around, there maybe some people have done the same. This will ease the task. If not, they are yours anyway. When you are done, it is wise to get other people to see them. They may give you valuable inputs, even correcting misspelled course names. Again, you need signatures of dean and rector on the translated version of your academic certificate and record.

Research proposal
You need to decide earlier which study route you are going to undertake – course or research or both. If you prefer a course-based study, you do not need a proposal. But if you are going to do a research, you definitely need a research proposal.

Good research proposal require time and energy to construct. So it is always better to prepare it earlier. Basically, the proposal will not be much different to the one you have done previously in your research as part of your undergraduate study. This will include background, objective, problems or questions to answer, hypothesis, methodology, and references. These are the essences of a proposal.

When you are done with those basic requirements, ask suggestions from others. When the application is open, check if the scholarship provider requires a bit more to what you have prepared.

Letter from intended university and supervisors
Download application form from the university website and fill it before send it back to the university. The university will respond you and issue you with a letter of acceptance. You may indicate in the form that you will begin your study next year, waiting for a scholarship which you are now struggling for. Most likely they will issue you with a conditional acceptance. They will keep reissuing this until you succeed with your scholarship application.

While your are in the website, go to your targeted department or school to find your potential supervisor. Even, this needs to be done first before filling in a admission form. The reason you will not studying in this university unless you have got an academic staff willing to supervise you. So get their email address, and make contacts with them. In the first time, you just need to introduce yourself, mention your academic background and your research proposal, and ask if he/she is available to supervise you. If they are busy because there are many students already under their responsibilities, don’t panic. Ask him/her if they know people around there who are still able to take additional students.

The good with the letter from university and supervisor when you have them at hand is that you can attach them to your application form and present them to the interviewers. These letters will increase your chances of winning the scholarship because the interviewers will so impressed that you are better prepared and have taken more advanced steps compared to other candidates.

For those who are married, this must not be overlooked. Not all scholarship providers allow you to bring family members (spouse and children) with you. The majority is yes, but you need to ensure whether additional funds for family members are available or not. If not, this means you have to be prepared to fund them yourself. Even if they do provide additional funds for family members, there are always cost to be funded using your own money. This is because the scholarship, usually, will only fund basic needs such living expenses, health insurance, health clearance before departure and visa. Other than these such as cost of transportation – international or domestic – are usually not covered and so funds for these have to be prepared.

More need to think if your spouse is working, especially if it is in a government institution or department. Will she be allowed to go with you or not? If, how are you going to overcome this. A discusion with spouse is needed here.

If you are currently working, you need to check if your employer support you for a further study or not. If yes, it will allow you to go and may provide you with financial supports as well. Generally, government bodies support for human resource development of their employees and so this is not usually a problem for public servants. This is not the case for private enterprises, so many candidates working in these commercial bodies have had to maka a tough decision.

Health status is another consideration for successfully obtaining a scholarship. Some people are fail or at least postponed to start their study because of health problems. So, if you intend to apply for a scholarship, keep practicing those healthy habits. Most scholarship providers will provide a health insurance to their awardees, but you need to make sure about what all this insurance covers. Does it cover dental and eyes-related health problems? If it not, then it is cheaper for example going to a dental practitioner or buying glasses here than there.

Driving license
It is advantageous to have a car there, not only to support your daily academic activities but also for your leisures. This is especially true if you are going there with your family members. But to do this, you need to have a valid license. Check with the scholarship or with experienced people whether a foreign license can be used in the intended country or not. This include different policies from one state to another. If students are allowed to use a foreign license, get one here or revalidate your old one. Obtaining a driving license there is expensive and time demanding.

So, these are things that you may prepare or consider before applying a scholarship. Remember that a good preparation equals to halfway through the whole process. Be prepared and win the scholarship!