Tips on Acing the Chevening Scholarships Application
The Chevening Award is a fully funded UK Masters degree scholarship to study your preferred course in a UK University. This means you must have completed an undergraduate degree or its equivalent. You should also have a minimum of two years work experience- the equivalent of 2800 hours, cumulatively. Paid and unpaid jobs or internships qualify for this.
The application process has two phases: The stage where you complete the online application and submit. And, the stage where you are (longlisted) invited for the interview. Not everyone makes the long list and the list is further reduced for the final award.
To be invited for the interview, it means that you’re considered eligible and that your essays were great. During my time, only circa 150 candidates out of 8000+ valid applications were longlisted for the interview.
Note that the above figure is from Nigeria only. Apparently, they received 52,000 applications globally for the 2019/20 session and only around 3% of those were awarded the Scholarship. I honestly thought I was dreaming. Dreams come true. From NYSC, straight to the UK.
Now, let’s get serious. The essays are the most important part of the application in the first phase. Thankfully, there are only four essays which though different, are quite intertwined. Each has a word count limit, with 100 being the minimum and 500 Maximum.
They include essays on 1. Leadership and Influence 2. Networking 3. Study in UK 4. Career Plan
Leadership and Influence: This is your opportunity to shine. Let them know what leadership steps you’ve taken, even in the past, and the impacts therefrom. Note that leadership here doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve occupied any official positions.
Give examples to demonstrate your leadership and influence. I’d recommend anywhere between two to four examples. If you’re not that great at writing with structure, I recommend using the STAR approach. ~Situation ~Task ~Action ~Result
Networking: How good are you with building and sustaining relationships? How has those connections helped you advance personally and/or professionally?
Study in UK: You get to choose 3 courses at 3 universities, ranking them from 1st to 3rd. Why is studying in the UK important to you? Why is studying at those institutions or taking those courses important to you?
Note that the assessor might not be knowledgeable in your field. So, be careful with how much jargons you throw into the essay.
Career plan: This part might be a bit difficult especially if you’ve never sat down to draw up a plan for your life. Hence, I encourage you to see this as an opportunity for self-reflection, learning and vision building.
My first advise here is BE PRAGMATIC. Uncle, how can you say you’d immediately after your studies become the governor of your state? Make sure to include both your short and long term plans.
The scholarship does not require you to swallow the dictionary or use all the exotic vocabularies there are. Just avoid grammatical errors; after all, you’re expected to be proficient in English to win the Scholarship.
Importantly, be clear and concise and stay within the word limit. The assessor should be able to read your essay once and understand your plans.
Most importantly, be intentional about the entire application. Why should they choose over the other applicant? If you need to, I’d advise you give your essays to someone else to give you feedback. Don’t stop editing. No rush, but make sure you submit before the deadline.
Remember there’s a two years rule. You must return to your home country and live and work there for a minimum of two years post study. So, ladies and gentlemen of the JAPA regime, this is not for you.
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