Common mistakes when applying to study in Scandinavia

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål Danish Finnish Swedish Estonian Latvian Lithuanian Hindi Arabic Chinese (Simplified) French German Japanese Polish Russian Spanish Hungarian

Getting an opportunity to take higher education in Scandinavia is by no way a mean feat. For anyone who understands what quality education complete with experiential learning, experimentations, immersive teaching, and connection with faculty, Scandinavia ranks so high up there.

Today, almost every new graduate in a middle-income or developing country has this nagging longing to take their masters abroad. The desire to study in Scandinavia among scholars globally is almost palpable. However, it is one thing to be passionate about studying in the prestigious and world-class universities in the region and another to actually qualify for admission.

Your High Foreign achievements may not be a guarantee

Most students, despite their high qualifications and considerable eligibility to study in Scandinavia, do not make it to admission and enrolment. Most of these failures are due to applicants starting the whole process without properly thinking through or on a wrong footing from the very onset.

It’s undeniable that more than 90% of foreign students who come to study in Scandinavia rely on scholarship funding. So, ordinarily,  there is always a tight link between getting a study opportunity and funding for it.

Mistakenly, most applicants to Scandinavian universities or any other overseas institutions assume that an application for study or admission automatically means that funding will be provided.

In some cases, applicants for a particular course are automatically considered for or deemed to have also expressed interest in the scholarship funding. However, most of the admissions and scholarship applications are 

Overseas’ Students Desires to Study in Scandinavian Universities

So many young people I talk to often express this passion and desire to get higher education, whether just for personal development or career progress, the jury is out there. The reasons for having a desire to get higher education abroad noy withstanding, most of them often think that application for study and scholarship are synonymous.

 For instance, someone may be very busy looking out for scholarship openings and even trying a shot at them. Conversely, some people just apply for study places but neither make necessary follow ups nor just think that such an application to study will automatically count as an expression of interest to be given funding. In both cases, there are glaring  mistakes that need to be well understood. It is only after you understand such nitty gritty that you will stand a chance to fulfil your dreams of ever getting to study in the Scandinavian universities. 

What you need to understand when applying for studying in the Scandinavia

While I characterize this bit as being relevant to Scandinavia, it will invariably be applicable for almost all universities abroad, whether in the United States of America, Australia, Asia, or wherever. 

Application for study does not necessarily count as an application for a scholarship. In most cases, the universities are only responsible for assessing your application based on the qualifications that is submitted to them. Upon completion of the assessment exercise, they will generate a list of applicants who have impressed them and demonstrated their ability to cope with the study program for which they applied.

Gotten Admission to a University in Scandinavia

Nonetheless, being considered qualified does not mean that you will be offered admission straightaway. The specific university will check its capacity to admit students including the maximum allowed number for that program and general faculty staffing. 

The greatest interest that anyone applying to study in Scandinavia has is to make it to the direct list of admitted students. In practice, all qualified students for any study program are listed based on several considerations including country of origin, prior study, language proficiency, a written letter of motivation, and statement of purpose. Those who make it to the first list are automatically admitted.

Admission Reserve List

Other qualified applicants who cannot be directly admitted based on issues including inadequate faculty capacity are placed on reserve list. Applicants on the reserve list will only be considered for admission in case a student in the first admission list does not accept the slot in time or rejects the offer.

 By default, the closer you are in the reserve list, the highest the chance that you will be accepted to replace someone on the main list. For example, number one on the reserve list will be considered first as a replacement then number two, three, four in that order. 

What you need to be considered for a scholarship funding 

Many people interested in studying abroad, Scandinavia included are deluded by the thinking that applying for a scholarship is such a straightforward process. Yes, to an extent it is easy especially if you have already checked the deadlines and collected all required supporting documents. However, most scholarships, if not all require that you first have an admission offer whose proof is a letter of admission. 

Entities that offer scholarships in Scandinavia or anywhere else will include the need for a student to file evidence of admission that clearly indicates the university to which they have been admitted, the study program, financial obligations, and many more. This part of the process means that you will have to first get admission to be qualified to apply for a scholarship.

Who gets a scholarship?

Unluckily, only students who have gotten an admission are likely to get a chance to apply for a scholarship, the reason being that the scholarship timetable always runs so close to the admission timelines. There is not much time left for you to wait for someone to decline an admission before you can be taken from the reserve list to the admission list. As an experience, once you do not make it to the first admission list, you should forget about getting a scholarship, especially those scholarships that are offered by the university. 

Missing out on direct admission does not however mean that you will not ever get other sources of funds. Every university gives a list of possible scholarship funding as a best practice. So all you need to do is check out which offers are still open by the time you have an admission letter. 

Tips for scholarship funding application 

As much as it’s everyone’s desire to win lucrative and highly competitive scholarship funding, most people fail to be pragmatic in their approach to such applications. One thing that should be at the top of anyone’s mind when applying for a scholarship finding is that they are competing against even more experinced people

Some of the scholarship applicants have had an illustrious career experience, great demonstrable achievements, and higher intellectual acumen. You should not be so naïve to think that you will stand out. As a result, it is not advisable to take any chances not to do anything extra that may project you as a compelling candidate for funding. 

The technicality, clarity, and compelling nature of your statement of purpose will largely set you apart from the rest of the candidates. Just take your time and write an articulate letter of scholarship application that captures your merits as a person, past experience, vision, and aspirations.

Show how your scholarship will create societal change

Getting a scholarship is not always all about you. Yes, it is you as an individual who will be granted a scholarship by whichever the financiers you get. But, as a matter of fact, most funders are very sensitive to know how at the end, you will in a small or big way be a champion of the change they desire.

An applicant must equally document how being given a scholarship will contribute to societal wellbeing. Here, you do not need to be so self-centered. Scholarship funding is not all about you, but largely how getting it will impact the larger society in the long run. Just tell clearly your current, short-term, and long-term interests.

You also do not want to waste time making an application to funds that support specific areas of study that is different from what you have been admitted. For instance, it’s absurd and a waste of time for someone who has studied computer science to apply for a scholarship that specifically supports anthropology. I don’t mean to say that there is no nexus between subject areas but even if there are, some may be stretching logic too far. 

Getting referees for scholarship and admission applications 

Referees are very important in study applications and in scholarship searching. Referees who may also double as mentors will not only help in fine-tuning your written submissions such as the statement of purpose, personal statement et cetera but will also tell you which of the available options are likely to go through. Referees and mentors are people who have gained a wealth of experience throughout their career and know what is likely to work and those that are tall order for you.

Choosing Referees for Study Applications

If you are lucky to have good referees, they will always go out of their way to pitch for you as a very good candidate. In fact, some of them will introduce you to their networks so that the groundwork is already done, all you need to do is put everything else in order. Don’t ignore your referee or mentor because they are the compass that will show you the best direction to take in your applications.

 In some instances, they will be sent critical documents to fill about you without any references being sent to you. Here, you can only trust that they will not let you down. Only focus on listing referees with whom you have a good rapport all the time. A mistake from the referee’s side may badly dent your chances of ever getting whatever you intended to achieve. 

Latest posts by Awino Fredrick (see all)