Ever since I received my first 50 Lei ($5) award at the end of the first school year, I realized that education, literally, pays off :). Little did I know that I was going to make a habit out of being paid to learn. Since then, I have studied in five countries on three continents and earned numerous scholarships and grants. If you ever considered studying abroad, but have been discouraged by the the cost or the effort required for such an endeavor, this post is for you. First and foremost, money is not really an issue, since there are plenty of funding opportunities out there. It is all about being prepared, committed and a little lucky. But, at the end of the day, I assure you that being awarded a generous scholarship is easier than you might think. Here are the most ‘lucrative’ scholarships out there.
|Fulbright Foreign Student Program||US government||MA|
|DAAD||German government||MA, PhD|
|Excellence Scholarships||Swiss government||MA in Arts, PhD|
|Seed Grant||Western NIS Enterprise Fund||MBA|
|Erasmus Mundus||European Commission||MA, PhD|
|Scholarships at Central European University||Open Society Foundation||MA, PhD|
|Scholarships at College of Europe||College of Europe||MA|
|GEM Stones||European Commission||PhD|
|European University Institute||EUI, National governments, Italian MFA etc.||PhD|
|Rotary Global Grant||The Rotary Foundation||MA, PhD|
|Roma Education Fund||International||BA, MA, PhD|
The application process for many of these scholarships is relatively easy. Most of them do not even require a GRE or GMAT, except for fields like finance, management or science. A TOEFL score of 90-100 will be enough for most scholarships and universities, unless you are aiming at the top tier schools, which require a score of 110 points. Still, if you pass all the other academic and technical requirements, and fall short of the 110 TOEFL mark, even Oxbridge will be lenient enough to let you take one of their own tests, instead of forcing you to retake TOEFL, which is costly and time-consuming. If you hope to reach the magic 110 points from the first shot, make sure you get plenty of training, since TOEFL can be tricky even for those with good English skills. I would recommend the following TOEFL training centers: American Language Center and Terra Nova English Language Center. Currently, there are three ETS-authorized Internet-based test centers in Chisinau, administering the test from one to several times a month.
Therefore, a smart, hardworking, and determined Moldovan student has no excuse for considering a study abroad experience as mere daydreaming. I listed just a few well known scholarships, but there are many more. In fact, almost all countries offer scholarships to foreign students. Similarly, most leading universities are constantly looking to attract foreign talent. I mostly covered MA and PhD scholarships, because fully funded BA scholarships are harder to come by, but remember that in some European countries higher education is virtually free. More importantly, I believe a student can benefit most from an MA and/or PhD abroad once they have successfully completed their BA studies in Moldova. That way one can knowledgeably compare the two systems and draw informed conclusions. I must add that, contrary to popular belief, the local education system is not all that terrible, considering that it provides a sound foundation to build on and excel abroad. From my experience and that of many friends, young people need to start planning for their study abroad programs at least a year or two in advance. That way you have a higher chance of putting together a successful application and, eventually, benefiting from a life changing experience.
Note: Of all the scholarships I have been awarded throughout the years; the one that I hold dearest is the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). The chance to study in the United States and live with an American family for a year had a transformational effect on my worldview and opened opportunities that would have otherwise eluded me. So, if you are still in high school or happen to know young audacious folks, who want to experience the world, FLEX is a great way to start that journey. The competition for high school students (15-17 years old) starts on September 19 and the first round of tests will take place in almost all major towns throughout the country!!!
PS1: The EU funded MA and PhD scholarships come highly recommended as they are very generous and imply a relatively simple application process. They may not be as well known as some of the other programs, but this only means that you have better odds of successfully clinging one.
PS2: If you happen to know any other good scholarships for Moldovans, please share in the comment section. Also feel free to ask questions with regards to the application process. Though, it should not come as a surprise that, apart from good grades, a strong CV and a memorable cover/motivation letter, coupled with sound recommendation letters, there are hardly any other secret ingredients to a successful application.