Applying for gov't-sponsored scholarships
SECURING SCHOLARSHIPS for further study is one way of advancing to the next level in your career, especially when funds are short. With scholarships, you can complete your master's degree or other advanced training at highly recognised universities here and abroad.
Even though scholarships may come with the price of being bonded to serve in Jamaica after course completion, the boost to your résumé is not to be underestimated.
Many scholarships cover tuition, accommodation, return airfare, living expenses and medical care. Others may include a clothing and family allowance.
The Scholarships and Training Assistance Unit in the Ministry of Finance acts as point of contact to 15 bilateral/multilateral donor agencies. In this regard, scholarships and other training opportunities are advertised in the local media, via circulars and also on the ministry's website: http://www.mof.gov.jm/sau/
According to Halcian Gallimore, head of the Scholarships Unit, between 120 and130 individuals access long- and short-term scholarship/training awards through this ministry programme on an annual basis.
Currently listed on the ministry's sites are Government of China, India, Japan, Mexico, Cuba and Russia scholarships, as well as Organisation of American States (OAS) study opportunities at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. For the OAS, the scholarship award can be pursued in OAS member countries, including the United States, Canada, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, except the applicant's home country.
OAS scholarships are now being offered in education, finance, management, environmental studies, information technology and agriculture.
The Government of China is also offering scholarship opportunities at the undergraduate and postgraduate level in the fields of science and technology, the environment and architecture, finance and tourism.
Applicants to the Chinese programme should be under 30 years old for the master's degree. The course of study lasts three to four years, with the first year dedicated to the study of Chinese.
Gallimore points out that the mistakes/omissions most commonly made by applicants include submitting incomplete applications (omitting documents, crushed or otherwise untidy applications with poor handwriting, etc).
Some individuals also make the error of applying for areas not advertised. They may also disregard application criteria such as age, minimum qualifications and experience.
Laziness and plagiarism, when evident to the selecting panel, is also an indication of an unsuitable candidate.
"When asked to prepare study plans, some applicants copy en bloc data found on the Internet. This results in their responses being disconnected or abstract," Gallimore says.
Applications will also be rejected if they are submitted past the stated deadline.
According to Gallimore, applicants should be clear in their minds what they wish to pursue and chart a course to achieve it. Sometimes, the impression is given that applicants are employing a hit-and-miss approach.
They should also demonstrate knowledge of the subject area which they intend to pursue.
When faced by the scholarship committee, applicants must also be able to engage at the expected level around the subject matter being discussed. They must also be able to clearly and convincingly state how they (applicant) and/or the country will benefit.
"In cases where interviews are required as part of the selection process, applicants would do well to understand that the process is competitive and they may or may not be selected," Gallimore says.
She adds, "It does not necessarily mean that they are failures if they are not selected."
Being shortlisted may not lead to a scholarship as there are usually many more nominations than available scholarships.