Getting a full scholarship to study abroad is a big dream for most Cambodian students. They want to experience a new educational environment, which they expect will be higher quality than that in Cambodia. Ironically, a large majority of them do not know how to become a qualified applicant for these study abroad scholarships.
Students have to remember and prepare for three vital aspects-- language proficiency, field of study and topic of interest, and academic credentials--before they apply for the scholarships, said Chheat Sreang, President of the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association Cambodia (EMA-Cambodia).
“Language proficiency, especially English, is mandatory for any scholarships. Students have to make sure that they have a formal certificate issued by recognized institutions. Of course, different universities require different levels of proficiency, so students must be aware of this requirement,” he said.
He continued to say that a field of study and topic of interest should be clearly stated in the application or expression of interest in the scholarship. This is so critical that students should not ignore it. It will help the selection committee to understand how a student’s interests fit with the scholarship program. Thus, he recommended that students learn as much as possible about the general goal and objectives of the course or scholarship in order to explicitly align their interest.
“At the end of the day, it is the students’ decision whether to compromise their interests or not to apply for it, in case that it is really the one the students are looking for,” he added.
Academic credentials are equally important when applying for these scholarships. These can include students’ academic records and transcripts from the undergraduate program, he said. Moreover, a student seeking letters of recommendation should request them from instructors, employers, or other individuals who have experience in the field students are applying for and who can speak knowledgeably about the student’s skills.
“Of course, everyone is not perfect, but make sure that you get near the best record,” he noted.
To be as successful as possible during the application process, he suggested that students enhance their personal qualifications and learn as much about the program as possible so that they can be competitive applicants. He added that students should show the selection committee not only their qualifications, but also their potential to grow and be successful in the program.
Ouk Davy, a lecturer at the University of Cambodia (UC), said that students should be well prepared before applying for an international scholarship so that they can be a suitable applicant ready to study in a foreign environment.
“To compete for a Master’s degree or post-graduate scholarships, students have to possess a good academic performance, high English proficiency, [a] few years of experiences in the field applied, a clear study objective and their future plan, and some optional experiences with volunteer work,” she said.
Nuth Sohoundany, a 23 year-old alumnus of UC who was a recipient of the Erasmus Mundus External Window Program for Regional Asia (EMMA) scholarship, said that students should try to dig out the information regarding the type of scholarship they are looking for, and they should know the criteria required in the scholarship. She also encouraged students to identify the objectives and goals of the scholarships.
She added, “We have to. . .[be clear on]. . .why do we select the course or subject that we’re applying for. . .what do we expect to learn from it?”
She also stated that students have to be proficient in the English language because most study abroad scholarships provided to Cambodian students require the knowledge of English.
“If students are able to succeed on English standardized tests, such as TOEFL or IELTS, they will have a bigger chance to pursue their dreams,” she said.
Source: UC Bulletin Page 23