You know the drill. You have a nagging thought that won't leave your brain: you really, really want to study for a master's degree. So, you start the search. Eventually, you have stumbled upon Chalmers on the west coast of Sweden and one of its awesome master's programmes. Amazing!! You also fit all the criteria and feel like this may be a fantastic opportunity to fulfil that goal. There is just one problem: it's in a whole other country, even a different continent! You graduated from your bachelor's not too long ago, or maybe you haven't even graduated yet. That means you haven't had the chance to earn money for very long, and you might still be trying to cover your student loans.
That was my situation when I applied to become a master's student at Chalmers. I studied for my bachelor’s in my home country Mexico and had worked for almost two years after graduating, and I had saved as much money as I could because I knew I wanted to take that next step. However, I knew I would need some financial help if I were going to live abroad for two years, so I started looking for scholarships anywhere I could find them.
Fortunately, Chalmers offers a whole lot of options
, all with different characteristics, such as coverage, the nationalities who are eligible to apply, and the fields of study included in a determined option.
Out of the list, I chose to apply for the Avancez Scholarship
. When I found it while I was expecting to start my studies in the autumn of 2020, this scholarship would waive 75% off the tuition fee for the entire duration of my studies in Chalmers, and all fee-paying students were eligible to receive it.
This scholarship is awarded directly by Chalmers, and it's very appropriately named. The word Avancez is french for "Advance!", which was William Chalmers's (the founder of our university) motto. His message can be perceived through this scholarship, given that students who perform exceptionally in the first year may see an increased reduction (an additional 10%!) on their second year of studies.
Given that this was a huge opportunity, I quickly made sure that I did everything correctly. Here are some things that I can recommend.
- I built a checklist with important dates and the documents I needed (which I could also find on the University's webpage) and got to work.
- I took the precaution of starting the process well before the deadline to have enough time to collect documents that were hard to obtain. For example, letters of recommendation! Some referees can get pretty busy, and it can take weeks before you get the letter.
- I made sure the scholarship assessment team knew I was cool! I don't fully remember a year later, but I think I was required to submit two letters of recommendation. I wanted to send the message that I was serious about my application and that I was a student worth funding, so I tried to collect as many letters as possible and submitted those. Please note that I am not sure that it had any effect on the decision, but it did make me feel more confident about my submission.
- Take your time filling in the form and submitting your documents. This is another reason why it's essential to start your process early. When I was finished collecting the documents I needed, I asked my family and friends to go through them with me to confirm I wasn't missing anything. They were all mildly annoyed, but at least I was still feeling confident (and they were okay after I thanked them with pizza).
- Lastly, try not to freak out while waiting for the decision! After pressing the "submit" button that carried my hopes and dreams along with my application for a partially funded master's education at Chalmers, there was nothing else to do but wait. This was definitely the most challenging part of the entire process, but I knew there was nothing I could change that could make it any better. It was now out of my hands and, if I received a negative answer, I knew it wasn't going to be because of my application. Because of all my hard work, I already knew that I had so much more experience that would help me on my next try!
After a few months of waiting, I remember exactly what I was doing at the office when I received an email notification with the words "Chalmers Scholarship Award Notification." I nearly choked on the sip of tea I had just taken, and I called my family straight away to let them know that I had succeeded and that I was, after all, moving to Sweden. Now, one entire year later, I'm glad I spent those months obsessing over the details. Because of that, I get to study what I love at Chalmers, and my budget is thanking me for it!