For most students, in Pakistan especially, the question about pursing bachelors abroad isn’t about the grades, it is about the funding. With both the increasing dip in our currency and the inflating tuition fees of US universities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pursue studies abroad. I have had so many bright students come to Brightlink prep - SAT with exceptional resumes who have even received acceptances from some of the best universities but never avail the opportunity due to lack of funds. Therefore, I have decided to enlist some measures for students to prepare way before hand for scholarship applications. Here, I would like to stress the preparation of scholarship applications starts way before the college application itself. To begin with:
1) Organize and Focus
The key to avail a scholarship lies in taking an early start, preferably in O Levels. I know it sounds too early to decide your career pathway but at least work on perfecting your grades, taking extra subjects, acquiring general charity summer experiences, participating and pursing excellence in one if not more extracurricular activities. Utilize these three years of school to experiment and find one extracurricular that you think you could build on later in your A Levels or High School.
2) Grades matter
As clichéd as it sounds, in all your efforts to build your profile, one should never ignore the importance of grades. Primarily, O Level grades matter more than A Levels so you would have to be on your best from the very beginning. Try to study smart and aim for the apex. You are competing with students with 20 A*, 18 A* and so on (yes I have had these students at Brightlink Prep – SAT :p). Having said that, let me also assure you straight A’s do not guarantee admission anywhere; you need to have a very strong profile and application to secure a good college placement. I have had students with average grades get into the finest colleges abroad because they have had the right approach, understand the application criteria and what is being asked of them.
3) Research and Discover
As soon as you are done with your O-levels, I would suggest you come out of your experimental mode and start dedicating your efforts into a focused aim. Ideally, by now, you should have thought about your major and dedicated some time to research on the list of colleges you plan to apply into. Thoroughly research every university, keeping a track of their programs, faculty members, scholarships available, their alumni network etc. Make a folder of every college's scholarship application requirements. Work on extracurricular activities more suited to your major, one that would make your overall application stronger because universities are very interested to see how FOCUSED you are. That is the key word for me here.
4) The Application Itself
Towards the end of your A-1, you should have a folder made of colleges offering scholarships. Keep in mind to highlight their eligibility criteria and see whether you fit into that criteria or not. Some colleges even have special award schemes which although are difficult to avail are nevertheless worth a shot. Some colleges offer need based funding, while others are need blind. Look into every colleges alumni profiles and see what scholarship they got and on what basis. Remember, you should never disregard the financial worth of any scholarship no matter how small, apply to every scholarship you think you are eligible for. Provide all the required information correctly with as much certified proofs of your resume as possible. If you are aiming for a need based scholarship, work on your application story making it seem as real as possible. If you are aiming for need blind, your resume needs to stand apart from all the multitudes of others in terms of dedication and commitment.
Other than this, look out for various other scholarships that are available. I have shared a link below which contains some extremely good scholarships that are available in US.
5) The CSS/Financial Aid Profile - The Collegeboard
Fill the CSS application form of the Collegeboard and apply for scholarships there. In my personal experience, this is the best way to apply for scholarships. Here is the link for the website:
6) Getting into College
In all your efforts, make sure you apply and meet all college deadlines and work on your SAT score. A good SAT score is the final deciding factor, in fact the basis of selection for most colleges. For your personal SAT preparation guide visit the link below: