Tuesday, March 15, 2016

English Language Tests: TOEFL and IELTS

Universities, businesses, and scholarship programs quite often require a trusted and valid indicator of a person’s ability to communicate in English. There are two popular tests that fit into this category: TOEFL and IELTS.

TOEFL, the ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’, evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting. It is the most widely respected English-language test in the world, recognized by more than 7,500 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries. Check out their website for more information, including videos, tips, and practice!http://www.toeflgoanywhere.org/

IELTS, the ‘International English Language Testing System’, is an international standardized test of English language proficiency. It is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd. IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 2,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organizations. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and Canada. For more information, check out their website: http://www.ielts.org/default.aspx

Getting Ready for Scholarship Season: The all-important essay and possible interview!

Social network profiles. Please know that your social or web profile WILL be investigated as part of the scholarship process; make sure your profile is professional, and a good representation of who you are. Facebook, Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn – all of your personal branding profiles should be updated and appropriate for your current scholarship, internship, or job activities. If you don’t have, or don’t know the specifics of “personal branding”, read the series of posts in the SIS blog listed in the archives on the right, or search for ‘personal branding’. Remember – you can also use the social networks to find scholarships as well!

The personal statement or essay. The application essay can be just as important as your GPA and extracurricular activities in helping you win a scholarship - probably the most important aspect of winning a merit scholarship. This is where your application needs to stand out!

Create an essay outline, and have a ‘basic’ essay written, using all your skills to create a portrait of yourself as a worthy recipient. Then read all information that comes with the scholarship application to determine the criteria for awarding the scholarships; emphasize these points in your essay. Make sure your essay fits the theme, and answers the question concisely. Use very specific examples from your life experience. Be specific, but show passion in your writing! (Word of warning – avoid the sob story; they rarely, if ever, win scholarships. Remember that every applicant has faced difficulties. What's different and individual to you is how you've overcome those obstacles. This is more significant and memorable than merely listing your misfortunes.Scholarship committees are not as interested in problems as they are in solutions.) The judges will be reading essay after essay on the same topic, so make your essay unique and engaging, with positive energy.

Read, and reread your essay – refining, simplifying, and polishing. Show that you have thought deeply and broadly about what you have learned in your academic career and what you hope to learn next. Correctness and style are vital, and neatness counts. Adhere to the length requirements of the essay so you aren’t disqualified. Have someone read your essay, preferably someone with professional experience – a teacher, professor, writing tutors, or visit the college writing center if there is one available. Search the Web for articles on how to write scholarship essays. This is so very important – do your best work!

Interviews. Before you submit your applications, realize that you may need to be interviewed by the scholarship committee at some point in the process. There are academic scholarships or merit scholarships, especially those with high payouts that require a sit-down, face-to-face interview with the finalists in order to determine who is the most deserving of the award. Be prepared! Make sure if you get called in for an interview that you practice your scholarship interview skills and that you are comfortable with the topic of your essay. Review your application and keep a copy for yourself. That way, there are no big surprises when you go into the meeting room. If you need help with interviewing skills, visit the career services office at your university. Above all, be confident, be positive, and be yourself! (Smile!)

Next up – !

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Getting Ready for Scholarship Season: Resume, References, and Transcripts

If I posted a link to a great scholarship opportunity (on the Facebook Page, or Twitter) with a deadline of ‘next week’ – would you be able to apply? Here’s what you need to have organized and available in order to be ready to apply for scholarships, grants, internships, or job opportunities:

Resume. Some scholarship applications will ask for your resume or CV. If you worked previously, list your experiences, but if you don’t have work experience – don’t worry. Use your resume/CV to point out any awards and honors you’ve received, community service you’ve been involved with, and activities you’ve participated in. List all relevant activities and honors, but be selective. If you have more activities than can fit in the space provided do not include the ones that are not significant.

Read the criteria for selection carefully to understand what the reviewers of the scholarship are looking for. For example, if the scholarship looks for applicants who can show leadership experience, or an outstanding extracurricular record, include your volunteer and community service activities, emphasizing those in which you took a leadership role. Most importantly, your activities should represent your varied talents and passions outside the class room. The reviewers are trying to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. Make sure your activities reflect that.

Make your resume and application stand out from the crowd! If you need help developing a professional resume, find examples on the Web, or better – contact your advisor, or the career services department of your school or university. If you don’t have extracurricular activities or volunteer work to list – now is the time to get involved. (Who knows – the life you change doing volunteer work may be your own!)

Letters of recommendation, or professional references. Good references are essential to creating a winning scholarship application. Prepare a document that lists at least three professional references. These references should include one or two professors who know you, preferably both in and outside of the classroom. Choose professors that have had you in upper level courses, and that know your academic goals. You might also ask a coach or academic advisor, the employer that you worked for, or the manager you worked under. Choose people who are relevant to the sponsor's goals. For example, ask a science teacher to write a letter of recommendation for a science scholarship, not your Art teacher. (Never ask a family member to provide a recommendation or letter of reference.) In each case, you want these people to speak highly of you – to speak to others about your abilities and worthiness for the scholarship.

Make sure you speak to your recommenders, making sure they want to speak on your behalf. Give your recommender a written description of the scholarship and a copy of your personal statement or essay that you write for the scholarship application. It’s a good idea to keep them informed about what you are doing academically, personally, and professionally – sending them an updated resume and transcript will help them with the process of writing the letter, or speaking for you during an interview. You should also give them appropriately addressed envelopes with postage, if necessary.

Please, be sure to also give your recommenders plenty of time to write the letter! Ask him or her at least four weeks in advance to write the letter. Gently remind them ten days before the deadline, asking them whether they have sent in the recommendation or need more information from you. Do not ask to see a copy of the letter, even if they offer to give you a copy. If the recommender provides you with a copy of the letter, the selection committee may suspect that the letter isn't as candid as it might have been otherwise. Send the writer a thank you note after the letter has been mailed. Let them know how much you appreciate what they are doing for you; you will likely ask them to write additional letters for you. Once they've written one letter on your behalf, the second letter is much easier. If you send them a thank you, it will give them a good impression and make them more willing to spend time writing you additional letters in the future.

Transcripts. You should have copies of your transcripts available in case you need to send an unofficial copy along with the application. This is also good to have when filling out the application in case you need detailed information about courses and grades, and to send to the people writing letters of recommendation for you. If the application requires official transcripts from all the schools you have attended, request this information as soon as possible. You can do this by e-mail, fax, or call in your requests, but mail a letter as a backup. Some schools charge a nominal fee for official transcripts. After a few weeks have passed, call the schools to make sure that the transcripts have been sent to the proper address.

Scores of internationally valid exams (GRE for aptitude and TOEFL/IELTS for English). This may not be necessary, but just in case, you should have the proper documentation, or copies of appropriate exam scores.

Picture. Have multiple copies of a picture of yourself. A school picture or passport picture is perfect. Anything smaller than a wallet size head shot, will do.

Watch for the next post, covering the all-important essay, and possible interview!

Getting Ready for Scholarship Season - Saving Money on Textbooks!

Textbooks. Just the word can conjure up pictures of dollar signs added to an already expensive tuition each semester. Now you have alternatives to purchasing new textbooks that can run in the triple digits, and cost over a thousand dollars a year! To check out the increased options and what works best for you, open a tabbed web browser like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari. This will make it easier to keep track of and compare options. You might also use a spreadsheet or a table in a word document to keep track of the list of books you need for each course, along other needed information, such as the link to the store or website, price, tax, shipping & handling, and the time it takes for shipping the books. (Be aware of shipping & handling costs, as well as shipping time!).

Before you start, make sure you know the name, edition, author, and ISBN number of the books you are searching for. To find this information, check with the campus bookstore (online if they have that option); ask the professor personally or send an email; check syllabi or course websites.

Used Books. Certainly nothing new, but you might find new places to purchase them.
  • Students. Ask students who took the course last semester – quite often they ask the professor if the same book will be used again the following semester, and have one for sale. Also check to see if your campus has a student-run textbook selling system in place, such as a website or bulletin board.

  • Websites. Amazon.com is a good place to purchase used books. You can also use Google or Bing to search for books by typing in the name of the book and edition, and see what other options come up.

  • Book companies and vendors. There are companies that buy and sell used textbooks, and sometimes you’ll find good deals there. A few to try: Better World Books; TextbookRecycling.com; CampusBooks,com; Textbooks.com; Half.com; CheapestTextbooks.com; … do a search and you’ll find many more. Keep in mind that book companies also buy back used textbooks, often paying for shipping, at prices better than the local campus bookstore can offer.

  • If your books just aren’t worth selling back, consider donating them to organizations such as Books for Africa. Better yet, hold a book drive on your campus to send used books and funds to people who need them (Books for Africa, Room to Read, Worldfund, Invisible Children, and more) – check out Better World Books; TextbookRecycling.com; and other book companies for more information. Not only will the textbooks go to a good cause, they will not end up in a landfill. AND – you can earn money for your campus organization! (Win-Win!!)

E-Books. Again, this is not exactly new, but there are new players and better options. Many of the book publishers have online versions of the textbooks they sell – at a reduced price; so check out the book publisher’s website for details. There are a number of sites that offer the classic texts, novels, and books free:

Google Books: Google Books
Many Books: ManyBooks
Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg
Barnes and Noble:  (Barnes and Noble)
do a search for “free eBooks” and you will find others as well.

Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, and many other android tablets will enable you to download books from a variety of sources.

If you’ve never read an eBook – download a free one today and check out the tools available. You can highlight, take clippings, bookmark, and (what I like best) SEARCH! When you study, wouldn’t it be great to search your textbook like you search websites for specific terms?

Renting/Lending Textbooks. Now this is an old idea with a new twist! There are a number of universities and book companies that have a number of textbook rental options. The prices are usually much cheaper than the new retail price of the book. Check with your university bookstore to see if they are planning a rental option for students; some are working directly with book publishers and vendors. If not, there are websites that have online textbook rental options for students, although shipping & handling, along with shipping times, make this a less desirable option than renting through a university program. There is a company, called Cengage Learning that plans to make the first couple of chapters of the rented text available online to students, so last-minute ordering isn’t such a problem. They also announced that they would start renting books to students this year, at 40 percent to 70 percent of the sale price.

There are a couple of other Internet textbook-rental companies, BookRenter (BookRenter), and Chegg (Chegg) that billed itself as “the Netflix for college textbooks.” Both advertise books at 65 – 85% off the regular price of textbooks. This is another option definitely worth looking into!

But don’t delay – order your textbooks as soon as possible so you have them in time for classes! (Ok – that’s the professor in me speaking!) Good luck with your textbook search, and good luck in your courses this fall!

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Find Scholarship Sources

If you are looking for sources to help you finance your education, knowing how and where to search can be crucially important. Many scholarships and grants aren’t well advertised, so it will be up to you to do the work and find the opportunities. If you are already enrolled at a college or university, start with the professional services available, such as financial aid or career services. If you are not yet enrolled, contact college or university admissions offices directly and ask them about the opportunities and support they provide for international students - a number of them offer discounted tuition.

When searching on your own, there are a number of free scholarship search sites on the Web (some are listed below). Profile-based scholarship searches allow you to register an account, have you fill out a student profile that includes your education history, intended major, group memberships, awards, test scores, and so on. Based on the answers in your profile, the website software will direct you toward scholarships and contests that you’re eligible for. Be sure to fill out the profiles with as much information as possible, for more search matches.

Also consider contacting organizations, associations, foundations, or government agencies. For example, contact the local Rotary International Organization to ask about their Ambassadorial Scholarships; or if you are a student member of ASME, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, they have scholarship opportunities for international students. P.E.O. International provides a number of scholarships for international women students to study in the US or Canada. Ask your professors what professional organizations they belong to, and contact the national headquarters, or look them up on the Web.

Many of the sites listed below also have links to other important and useful information, including blogs, forums, discussion boards, etc. You can follow many of them on Facebook, Twitter or RRS feeds to keep up with current information.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Sites:
International Education Financial Aid: http://www.iefa.org/
International Scholarships: http://bit.ly/1ixyG9j
FinAid: http://www.finaid.org/
Scholarship Experts.com: http://bit.ly/1OXYOTw
UNIGO: https://www.unigo.com/
Hispanic Scholarship Fund: http://www.hispanicfund.org/
CHCI - Developing Latino Leaders: http://www.chci.org/
The Gates Millennium Scholars: http://www.gmsp.org/
ScholarshipsCanada: http://bit.ly/1puHlgX
FastWeb: http://www.fastweb.com/
InternationalStudent.com: http://bit.ly/1puHktl
eduPass: http://www.edupass.org/
eduPass, Financial Aid: http://www.edupass.org/finaid/
eduPass, Scholarships: http://bit.ly/1GpcLKL
USA Study Guide: http://www.usastudyguide.com/
P.E.O. International: http://www.peointernational.org/

Scholarships for International Students would greatly appreciate your recommendations of websites with useful information regarding scholarships or internships. SIS would also appreciate guest blog postings from students, or university professionals who would like to share ideas, information, or suggestions! Contact Denise Beebe if you have questions, or would like more information – I welcome your involvement! beebed@bvu.edu

Scholarships in Canada

International Scholarships in Canada - Undergraduate

Carleton University Entrance Scholarships for International Students
Carleton offers partial scholarships worth $4,000 – $16,000 to exemplary students who meet the admission average criteria of 80% and above.

Dalhouse University Entrance Scholarships
International High school students admitted to an Undergraduate Program at Dalhouse are eligible for various partial scholarships.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Scholarships for International Students
International Scholarships worth $13,000 - $25,000 are available to qualified, first-time undergraduate international students admitted at the University.

Humber College Scholarships for International Students
Humber offers two full tuition renewable scholarships (Approximate value $12,200) available for NEW international students beginning classes in September, and one in January  of each year. Applications will be considered based on academics, community involvement, referee/reference letters and statement of interest.

Sheridan College StudentGuard International Entrance Scholarships
Four (4) entrance scholarships of $2,000 each are available to international students who will be starting Sheridan College’s 4-year degree programs in Fall 2012 (diploma, certificate, post-grad and joint degree programs are NOT eligible); and two (2) awards for returning students.

University of British Columbia Scholarships for International Students
UBC recognizes the academic achievement of outstanding students from around the world by devoting more than $4 million Canadian annually to awards, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance for international undergraduate students. The four major scholarship programs offered are: 
International Leader of Tomorrow AwardInternational Student Humanitarian AwardOutstanding International Student Award President’s Entrance Scholarships .

York University International Scholarships
International students admitted to York University are eligible to apply to full scholarships worth $60,000 – $100,000 for a four-year degree program.

Vancouver Island University International Regional ScholarshipsVancouver Island University offers  partial scholarships worth $500 - $5,000 for international students who will be pursuing their Bachelor’s Degree at the University.

International Scholarships in Canada - Graduate

University of Calgary Graduate Studies Award
University of Calgary offers a wide range of full and partial scholarships for international students. Scholarships  value range from $1,000 to $40,000 and covers different fields of study.

University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowships
The UMGF awards are also available for international students and are valued for a 12-month period at $16,000 for PhD students, or $12,000 for Master’s students.

University of Waterloo International Master’s and Doctoral Student Awards
Eligible full-time international students starting a research-based master’s program or PhD program will receive an International Student Award valued at $1,690 per term for 2 years (Master’s) and $3,380 per term for 3 years (PhD).

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Scholarships for Filipinos in France, 2016-2017

Scholarship: Scholarships for Filipinos in France, 2016-2017

Amount of scholarship:
These scholarships will cover part or all of the awardees’ living fees, air travel, health insurance, and in most cases tuition for the expected length of their academic programs

Deadline: Friday 15 April 2016, 4:00 PM.

Requirements (or criteria, or eligibility):
  •  Filipino national, graduate of a high school or university in the Philippines
  •  For enrollment in a degree-awarding program in France. All fields are eligible, including dual degrees.
  •  Knowledge of French is preferable but not required

Jules LECONTE РAttach̩ for higher education Рjules.leconte@diplomatie.gouv.fr

For more information, please visit:
Embassy of France at  http://bit.ly/1LHU0Xu