American Experience | 体验美国

The Right Strategy of Applying for US College Scholarships

March 27, 2015 11:13 pm | By Sondra

For many Chinese middle-class families, study in the United States is very a expensive overhead. No one knows whether it is worth it because there are too many unpredictable factors in the future. The best strategy of risk aversion is to gain the skill of how to apply for a scholarship and to select a school of good value in both ranking and cost.

When I graduated, I won admission to get a Masters at Columbia University and the highest scholarships (50% tuition waiver); it was the highest value a Chinese student could earn. Very seldom is there a full scholarship to get a Masters in Columbia. But even so, I was still worried that my elderly parents would have no peaceful day in their later life because my family would sacrifice all of their belongings for my future. To this end, I gave up this gamble at the last moment when I was going to apply for a visa.

I chose to wait for a year and to continue to apply study in the United States. And I realized more clearly that my initial investment must be zero because I cannot afford any risk. The college that I was looking for, because my choice was very limited, would offer me a full scholarship, and its ranking wouldn’t be low. For this reason, it must be a “special” college, which needs me very much. 

How to pick the suitable university? Selecting a college is like investing. It does not depend on whether you are excellent, but you have to decide to select the right market. Even savvy investors will not get a good return if they choose the wrong market.  An outstanding applicant will do the market research, applying for college from the market’s point of view rather than personal preferences. 

For my first step, I began to analyze the distribution of American University scholarships. I had traced the results for applying to various professional studies from Gter, and then picked out the profession and university that offer scholarships frequently.  As expected, after tracking for some time, I found that the universities in the southeastern America often offer the full scholarship to the international relations professional. I contacted colleges which I selected and analyzed them through asking the questions. Texas A & M University’s Bush College caught my attention. The former President George W. Bush contributed money to recruit good students because it was newly established for the international relations professional. Ms Kathryn Meyer, who was working at School, replied to me quickly and enthusiastically, within ten minutes. The A & M University in Texas, which consists of 90 percent white students, has created many scholarships to attract non-white students.  I strongly realized that it is the “special” university that needs me. 

I decisively chose it and submitted my application. I was an undergraduate student of an unknown university and an ordinary person, so I would not win the highest scholarship even if there was more to receive at this college. But I am a distinctive and a very savvy applicant. I know the relationship of market demand and I also know how to set the prices as well as how to bargain. That was why I earned Columbia’s highest scholarship; I correctly calculated my options and value.

Due to the poor U.S. economy in 2010, many universities had reduced their scholarships. I didn’t gain a full scholarship from Texas A & M University or other universities. I was unable to do anything because of market crisis. 

The opportunities are for the people who are already prepared. In mid-March 2010, I sent an e-mail to the professor and Ms Kathryn Meyer to discuss whether it was possible to increase my scholarship; otherwise, I would go to another college which would offer me the higher scholarship. Ms Kathryn Meyer replied diplomatically that there was little hope.  But on the reply deadline in April 15, she urgently sent me an email and told me not to promise to go to other universities, and told me to wait for their final notice because all of the other Chinese students had gone to other universities. I became the only one of the Chinese students in their college.  Oh, great! They had finally agreed to all my conditions; I successfully bargained a full scholarship from the Americans.

There is an art to applying for a scholarship. After locking the target, you need calm, wit and courage to strive for success.

Ms. Du obtained a bachelors degree in China before attending Texas A&M for her Masters degree in the US. She is now back in China. This was her experience in successfully obtaining a scholarship earlier in the 2000s. This strategy may not work now.