Friday 15 February 2019

How I Got a Chevening Scholarship and Chevening Scholarship Tips

Written by: Sarah Egbo

chevening scholarship

Hi there!

I am Sarah Egbo, a graduate of Information Resource Management from Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.  I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, under the Chevening Scholarship Scheme

Brief information about the Chevening Scholarship 

The Chevening Scholarship is the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at the academic development of current and potential leaders. It is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. Chevening offers two types of awards – Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the recipients of which are selected by British Embassies and High Commissions. Scholarship recipients come from all parts of the world, so it is not restricted to a particular country or continent.  The Scholarship covers one’s study at ANY university in the UK, coupled with return flight tickets and living expenses (which is termed ‘stipend’) during one’s stay in the UK.

How I got to hear about the Chevening Scholarship

After gaining my Bachelor’s degree, I had some free time before my participation in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme. I made the most of this time by searching for scholarship applications on the internet. I found quite a lot and applied to a few such as the Commonwealth Shared (UK), Fulbright (USA) and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF-Nigeria) scholarships. Unfortunately, I did not get positive feedback from the aforementioned scholarships and was becoming discouraged when a friend told me about the Chevening Scholarship. Apparently, I had seen the scholarship advert online but hadn’t taken it too seriously.
Lucky for me, this friend of mine was a Chevening alumnus, so he knew the requirements which the scholarship body looked out for in the application stage. He advised me on how to go about the application, which does not only involve writing impressive statements but more importantly, participating in activities that would contribute to making my application an outstanding one, when placed into writing.

The Chevening Scholarship Application Process

(Steps to take in order to have an outstanding Chevening Scholarship application)

When applying for scholarships, one thing I strongly advise applicants to do is to, first and foremost, check out the requirements and intended beneficiaries. Chevening looks out for these key themes; leadership, networking, academic and work experience.
For requirements, read them carefully and ask questions, where necessary.  A major reason why several Chevening scholarship applicants are not selected is because they fail to meet the work experience requirement of at least two years. Even though they may have excellent essays, terms and conditions are not downplayed by the Chevening scholarship body.  So, I made sure I met up with the work experience requirement before I started the application.
A second thing to note is the prospective mold of recipients the scholarship favours. Chevening seeks persons who have/are contributing to their societies in a positive manner. They consider candidates more on the basis of leadership potential than academic prowess. In other words, you do not have to graduate with a first or second-class upper degree to get accepted. What they are more interested in is the voluntary work/ community projects that you have done, which has contributed positively in the society you live in, and how you mobilized people and resources to achieve such feat(s).
In my case, among other instances given in my application, I indicated that I was an active member of the sustainable development goals (SDG) community development service (CDS) group during my NYSC year in Zamfara state. I highlighted that I championed outreaches and projects while in the group.  I presented a major individual achievement, which was my contribution to the educational sector during my stay in Zamfara as a youth corps member. I carried out a computer literacy project in the school I was posted to work in. This involved providing the school with computer systems and facilitated computer skills training for staff and students of the school.
The point here is that you have to go out of your comfort zone to do something noteworthy.  This includes actively participating in volunteering services, conducting outreaches, projects, and anything else that is related to community development. This should be backed up with numbers and evidence to better convince the persons who are assessing your application. In my case, my computer literacy project was published by some newspaper agencies in the region both in print and online forms, so I included links to the online publication in my application as evidence. Providing evidence also makes your application unique. In your Chevening Scholarship application, you should present yourself as someone they need, not the other way round. Voluntary activities can also include that of religious organisations, but you have to present this in a convincing and smart manner.
A third thing to note is the need to have your application seen by another person and good timing. A lot of people do not start writing their essays early until the last minute. Then they rush through it and do not give anyone to proof read as there is lack of time. This makes for a poorly crafted application.

 Chevening Scholarship Interview and selection stages

When your Chevening Scholarship application has passed through the application stage which runs from November through January, successful candidates are shortlisted for an interview from mid-February. The Chevening Scholarship interview period holds in the month of March.  If invited for an interview, it is advisable that you prepare very well for it. If you are not a confident speaker, please hold a mock interview with those around you (family, friends, co-workers e.t.c). I did a mock interview with my parents and that helped me greatly at the real interview. The Chevening scholarship interview is basically an oral assessment of what you have written in your essays. It is also a chance to present other things, which the word count in the written application did not permit you to do. It is very important that you say what you have written in your Chevening Scholarship application because having a disjointed story will make the assessors believe that you were not the author of those essays. This will result in you not getting the Chevening scholarship, even though you are halfway through the selection stage.
Results from the interview stage come in the month of June. During this period, I advise you to worry less about the interview results and focus more on other things such as getting unconditional offers from the schools you have indicated interest to study in. This is also a great time to prepare and write English language exams such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) among others. These are requirements that enable you to fully secure the Chevening scholarship offer if your interview results come out positive. Failure to have an unconditional offer from a UK university and an English test which meets the Scholarship requirement will result in one losing the Chevening scholarship (this is most painful if you have come this far and you couldn’t get the Chevening scholarship due to not meeting such requirements). Once requirements are met, final arrangements are made and you are free to fly to the UK as from September!
I must tell you, the Chevening Scholarship application process itself is a year-long and tasking period, but it is definitely worth it. During this period, a  strong spiritual lifestyle and tenacious attitude are golden.

Life in the United Kingdom as a Chevening Scholar

chevening scholarship

My stay in the UK so far has been a beautiful one, although I experienced culture shock at first and was homesick time. With time I got used to the weather, people and academic lifestyle. Chevening also organises academic and leisure events at different parts of the UK. These events have given me the chance to visit astonishing places such as Glasgow and Edinburgh (in Scotland) and Bath (in England). I have also experienced some of the UK cultures through festivals such as the Sir Burns Night (celebrated in honour of a famous poet in Scotland), and I learned about the history of the Romans stay in the UK when I went to visit the Roman Baths, which is why the town which the historic site is situated in, is called Bath.
The Chevening experience I must say is a once-in-lifetime experience which I wish for everyone to experience. I hope the tips I have provided will help many in securing this prestigious scholarship. I believe that anyone and everyone is deserving of such scholarship if  you follow the right path and are determined.  I wish you all best of luck!

More information about the Chevening Scholarship can be found on these links;

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  1. A very nice topic i hope i make it so that i can go to Chevening πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ™

  2. Use whatever source is available to search for college scholarships. Scholarship and Grant Though, most of the scholarships are school based, but still there are some others that are based upon almost all other personal essentials which could exist.

  3. Please how about the experience you mentioned, how did you get that ??

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My name is Solomon Ubani, I'm a computer scientist. I have few years of programming experience. I am happy to learn from you.