How To US Scholarship – Advice From Pakistani Scholars
Recently, in the wake of hundreds of queries from Pakistani scholarship applicants, Brightlink Prep discussed with 3 Pakistani’s who made it on full scholarship to top graduate programs in the United States. The average worth of the scholarships they won was in excess of 70,000 US Dollars per person. Here is the advise from each one of them for prospective Pakistani scholarship applicants along with their brief profiles.
‘I was also selected for an exchange program in 2013 before winning the Fulbright Masters grant in 2015 Alhamdulillah and many people keep asking me about the key to winning such awards. With a CGPA of 3.2, I think I won’t be wrong if I say Fulbright doesn’t want just extraordinary academic credentials. I personally know friends with 330 GRE and gold medals who got rejected AND with 305 GRE and nominal CGPAs getting selected. The key I believe, in any aspect of life including these academic grants, is that you have to justify what you’ve been able to do and what you plan to do in your life. Everyone would think it’s not difficult to do but it actually is and just the way you speak in your interview, gives the panel a clear idea of your aspirations, patriotism and an overall personality. For Fulbright specifically, of course you also need to make sure that your goals are also aiding the development of Pakistan. Also for essays and personal statements, they don’t expect stellar vocabulary or stunner sentences from you, everyone is unique in their own way and they just want to know how are you unique and different from other applicants. Lastly, luck plays a vital role in such opportunities too, so make sure you’ve the right intentions to apply/study with the right connection with Allah for a perfect application ;)”
Furqan Ashraf received the Bloustein Excellence Scholarship in Public Policy at Rutgers University that includes a $50,000 tuition waiver and a TA-ship. He graduated with a degree in Economics from LUMS and worked as a Research Associate for a year before leaving for his masters. His undergrad GPA was 3.0 and his GRE score is 327/340. He will be joining Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS) this October.
Here is what he has to say to prospective applicants:
“First and foremost is choosing the right program; a program that fits your academic and professional interests. You should look at the program curriculum, faculty, job placements, and the research that a particular school is doing. Approach professors before applying and get in touch with the current students for any questions you may have. This will certainly help you in choosing your right fit and highlighting your relevant strengths in your essays.
Perhaps the most important component of your application is your essays (statement of purpose or study objective). This is your opportunity to address any shortfalls in your credentials (GPA, GRE, work experience etc.) If there are any specific essay questions, do address them. Tell them why you are a great fit for their program without being clichéd. Talk about your relevant research or work experiences without being wordy or ambivalent. Be clear about what your post-graduation plans are. Avoid grammatical mistakes and make use of good language. Relate your experiences or aspirations by connecting them with the strengths of the program including relevant research, courses, alumni etc. Tell them what you have, what you are expecting to get of the program and how you are going to add value to their program. And, avoid using the same essays for all the programs that you are applying to. Each program is unique and should be addressed accordingly.”
Anum received the Fulbright scholarship for 2016-2017. She also received the Global UGRAD scholarship in 2013. She will be going to The New School for her masters in Social Psychology. Her current program is a yearlong and she has been granted an amount of $67,000.
“I think it’s a myth that scholarships are not available for Pakistani students. Be it Europe or United States, opportunities are always available. The challenge is to tap the right one that suits you – the one that is in line with your education, work experience and career goals. A lot of students think that scholarships are funded for students bringing about a social change alone. However, it is not always true. What matters is the impact, not just social impact that you make in your current life and look forward to be making through the scholarship. Look at it with the perspective of an investment. You will be offered scholarship if there are high returns on investment of the granting agency.
Another misconception is that you have to be really outstanding in order to receive the scholarship. My experience tells me that you just have to be genuine and if you truly are going to utilize the opportunities and make full use of knowledge, then this scholarship is yours. It is not about exceptional grades. It is about who you are as a person to the world that attracts sponsors to a candidate.”