Advice from Pakistani’s who Won 10 Crore Funding in Total
Brightlink Prep sat down with 5 Pakistani’s who made it to top programs around the world on Scholarships. The aggregate worth of the scholarships they won was in excess of 1 million US Dollars. Here is the advise from each one of them for prospective Pakistani scholarship applicants along with their brief profiles.
1) In 2013, Saima Anas from Pakistan received a full scholarship to attend a 5-year PHD program at University of California at Berkeley. The scholarship is worth 350,000 US Dollars and was directly provided by the university. Her undergrad GPA from NUST was 3.46 with a GRE score of 324/340. She had 2 research publications at the time of her application. Here is her advise for prospective applicants:
“Don’t rule out top expensive schools. In Pakistan there is a misconception that top schools do not provide financial aid. It is exactly the opposite in fact. The higher a program ranks, the cheaper it can be to study there. Of course gaining an admission to top universities can be challenging but once inside, they have a massive portfolio of scholarships and loans. Scholarships for low rank universities and state universities are limited and mostly for local residents. However private schools are more lenient and are able to offer more money from their private grants, scholarships, and gift aid from donors.”
2) In 2016, Shandana Waheed from Pakistan received the Falak Sufi Scholarship 2016 to attend the New York University. The scholarship includes a 100% tuition waiver and an academic-year stipend of $26,200, student health insurance, and registration and services fees for up to two years. Here is her advise for prospective applicants:
“For every scholarship there is an ideal candidate and your job is to actually identify that ideal candidate. Talk to past scholarship holders for that donor, interact with them, observe what traits and qualifications they have – this way you will be able to get a better idea of what the organization is looking for in a scholarship winner. It is also a good idea to read a few recent winning applications, which are generally available on reliable blogs. The idea is not to copy or imitate past applicants, but to glean on useful aspects of an application that may help you draft your own app. You need to think of yourself as a product that you are trying to sell to a buyer (the scholarship donor). If you present yourself as a worthwhile investment then you will significantly increase your chances of success. Scholarship applications are like sales pitch – the more relevant the pitch is the better.”
3) Shaan Iqbal received both the Fulbright and Common Wealth Scholarship in 2013. He eventually went on the Fulbright program to Michigan State. His scholarship worth is 150,000 US Dollars. Here is his advise for prospective applicants:
“Every scholarship program such as the Fulbright, Commonwealth, Erasmus Mundus or even direct university scholarships has its own reasons for giving the scholarship. For instance Fulbright gives scholarships so that it can nourish future leaders of Pakistan in technology, economics and social sciences. They look for applicants who have the potential to become one of those therefore as a prospective applicant you need to identify the primary reasons of the donor and ensure that you highlight and align your skills accordingly.
To search for the main motivation of these organisations you must scan any blogs, social media pages and websites of these firms or even call or email them directly to gather as much information as you can. Once you have all of that in front of you, then you can use that information to personalize your application accordingly. Make sure that you use the descriptive words you find in your application – common descriptive words for Fulbright are leaders, impact, social work, knowledge exchange, cultural exchange etc. Scholarships such as Fulbright and common wealth place high credence on community service so it is needless to say that you MUST stress on those areas in your application regardless of your field of application.”
4) Zeeshan Din received a full scholarship to attend a 2-year MBA program at Rice University in US in 2015. Prior to this he was a Fulbright scholar from 2010 till 2012 at Rutgers University for a graduate program in public policy. The scholarship is worth 200,000 US Dollars and was directly provided by the university. His undergrad GPA was 3.1 from IBA with a GMAT score of 730/800. He had 4 years of full-time work experience for a multi-national company. Here is his advise for prospective applicants:
“Become a part of volunteer or social work. I was always amongst the top 25-35 percent of the class – I was never an exceptional student and never had perfect grades or scores. However I have always been heavily involved in her community through volunteer work, sports, dramatics and college events. I also assumed several leadership roles as a volunteer at all points of my academic career. Whether I was in Pakistan, US or any other country on some sort of program I was always seen as an active player in social work.
For instance I became involved in several MUN’s, Dramatics clubs, tennis clubs, tutoring, assistantships, and even music. I emphasize heavily on volunteering as much as you can and balance it with your professional and academic responsibilities. The key is to find areas of interest and exploring them.”
5) Jawad Raza received the Noon Scholarship for Oxford University in 2013 to attend a one year graduate program. The scholarship is worth 40,000 US Dollars. Here is his advise for prospective applicants:
“Apply to as many places as you can. There are hundreds of scholarships available just to Pakistani applicants – aside from the common ones such as the Fulbright there are the less common ones such as Noon, Melinda and Agha Khan etc. While you should apply to many scholarships, I also suggests that you should spend extra effort on applying to the most relevant ones.
And last but not the least; apply even if you think you will not get it. In Pakistan many students under rate or under value themselves. They do not even attempt to apply thinking that they will not get it. This is not the right approach – apply at all costs because most of these scholarships do not require any application fee or even if they do it is a petty expense when you look at the bigger picture. “