Starting in high school, students understand the importance of a scholarship or grant to move them forward with their education and career futures. There are thousands of potential scholarships and grants, as well as other avenues of financial aid, for the newly graduated individual, especially if they excel in an academic or sport-related area. But another important sector where scholarships and grants are in demand is that of the research scientist.
The need for scholarships in research is crucial. Experiments are costly and time-consuming, with a lot of overhead and equipment requirements. Competition for these funding sources is global, though, and by this stage of a career, it’s expected that scholars are exceedingly knowledgeable in their field, as well as capable of producing innovative and creative ideas that stand out from the many other applicants for the same scholarship. In order to be chosen as the recipient of a scholarship or grant, you need to understand the process in which they are awarded.
Understanding the Competition of Scholarships
Scholarship applications are competitive because they are limited and category-based. The more niched an area is, the less likely there will be an abundance of scholarships available to obtain. Thus, the competition increases with the timeless economic philosophy of supply and demand.
Common scholarship categories include:
● Domestic-based scholarships, available only to researchers who are citizens of the country of the scholarship’s origin
● International-based scholarships, the opposite of domestic-based, with only international researchers able to apply for the funds available
● Externally funded sources, which are usually private scholarships that have specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify
● Distinguished scholarships available only to a certain top percentage of scholars completing research in a high profile field
● Financial hardship opportunities that a scholar can qualify for if they meet a certain financial threshold
Each scholarship opportunity has its own deadline, requirements, and paperwork. Everything must be completed timely, not too early, not too late.
The Difference Between Scholarships and Grants
As a researcher, you’ll have multiple sources of funding available for you to choose from. Scholarships and grants are terms you must become familiar with so you know what is expected from you should you receive the funds.
A scholarship is given to researchers when they want to further their knowledge of an academic area. They are awarded based on specific criteria that typically matches the values or mission of the funder of the scholarship. Scholarships are given to students who qualify academically or financially. They are either merit-based or need-based and student-specific or career-specific.
Grants, on the other hand, are typically given from a party such as a government, corporation, foundation, or a trust. The recipients are veterans, colleges or universities, businesses, or non-profits to aid them in moving forward towards a specific goal, such as training, societal development, and research.
Increasing Your Chances of Getting a Scholarship
Some scholarships are based on financial need, and there isn’t much you can do to put yourself in that category. You either meet their cap of an annual income or other economic criteria or you don’t.
Merit-based research scholarships, though, have a bit more to them. They are judged against other applicants and how you present your academic performance can make or break your ability to obtain these funding sources.
To increase your chance of getting a scholarship, consider these suggestions:
● Get your work published somewhere, even if it’s on an open-access forum that you must pay for. The more publications you have in your field, the more likely you are to be considered a reputable scholar.
● Find work in a comparable professional field that is relevant to your research. If you have experience in the area you’re attempting to obtain a scholarship in, you’re more likely to be awarded it.
● Focus on your grades. Most scholarship funders will only look seriously at applicants who have an average of 80% or higher, but the better your grades, the greater your chances of standing out from other applicants. The funding judges are going to specifically look at your grades in the subject areas related to the research you’re proposing.
You can apply for as many research scholarships as you’d like, but when the approvals start coming in, you’ll have to be careful which ones you choose to accept. Make sure they don’t overlap in their requirements and expectations.