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Studying abroad in the US is the dream of many students but not many families can pay for the fee of 35-55 thousands USD/year in public schools and 65-75 thousands USD/year in private schools. Therefore, the needs of getting a US scholarship has become more popular. To help students have more experience in applying for a US scholarship, we have had a meeting with Mr. Nguyen Bui Minh Cuong, a tutor in SAT and Essay-writing course in ETEST Center, is the one who has helped lots of Vietnamese students successfully get a scholarship.
In your opinion, what is the current status for the Vietnamese students to apply for a US Scholarship?
Nowadays, US Scholarships are more abundant than scholarship in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. However, since the number of students wishing to study in the US is increasing and many US universities has a limited number of international scholarship so it is difficult to get a full scholarship, mostly the best students can have their hands on those scholarships every year. We usually aim for 50%, 70-80% scholarships, which is easier.
Students and parents can personally find any information about good scholarships on the Internet. If students have already chosen a suitable university or field of study, they can see more information on the website of the university. Besides, they can contact those who have experience in applying a scholarship. However, applying for a US scholarship is a long run, which includes preparation in English, life skills and an impressive essay.
In which age should a student consider applying for a scholarship?
They should think about scholarship in grade 9 and 10. This is a good time because they can take the TOEFL or IELTS test in grade 10, and they can have more time to gain more life experience.
Some students still don't know whether to take TOEFL or IELTS tests?
In the mean time, IELTS score, as well as TOEFL, is accepted in most universities in the US. If students are used to writing on papers and directly interview, they should take IELTS tests. Otherwise, if they feel more comfortable when writing and speaking on computers then TOEFL is the better choice.
Besides English, what else is needed when applying for a scholarship?
Students need to know what their strength is in order to choose a suitable scholarship. There is one advantage that not so many people know is having "Vietnamese nationality". In fact, applying for a scholarship in the US is much easier than in Singapore when being a Vietnamese. Most scholarships in the US are prioritized for developing countries like Vietnam. Therefore, applying for US scholarships without mentioning about being a Vietnamese is a huge disadvantage.
Our study academic program is also a advantage which helps many students be good at math and science. Many US newspapers are mentioning about STEM (Science - Technology - Engineering - Mathematics) as a modern method of education. STEM is considered to be the method that equips learners with necessary knowledge and skills related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In the old days, US education system focused more on life skills so have created more good leaders than good scientists. Now, the US sees STEM system as an important factor in maintaining high value and creative human resources. Thus, Vietnamese students who is good at math and science have a huge advantage when applying for the scholarship in the US.
About the preparation of life skills mentioned above, can you explain it clearer?
The downward of Vietnamese education system is that students don't have much time to actually live their lives. Unfortunately, many universities in the US ask students to have social skills such as sports, music, arts, etc. in order to see their leading skills. Besides, students also need to have life experience, feel things that happen around them, from their family, their friends or their own feelings to give interesting information for the essay.
The essay is one of the biggest obstacles for most students. So how can students impress their examiners?
An impressive essay is actually very difficult to write, but is the crucial element when applying for a scholarship. A successful scholarship file must meet three of the followings: (1) Applicants have to be smart, (2) Applicants must have clear goals and the ability to overcome difficulties to achieve the goals, (3) Applicants have to be persuasive. The first element is shown by score boards and most of the boards for scholarships are excellent, the other two are expressed through the essay.
So how can students write a essay like you said? Could you please give more instructions?
Usually, students need to be able to rewrite the events that they have been through in life and how they have tried to overcome obstacles to achieve goals. One of my best students, Thu Minh, has received a scholarship of 2.25 billion VND in Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) with an essay telling about how she overcome discrimination and tried her best to complete the advance courses, shorten the time needed to save money for her family.
But not all students have the situations similar to Thu Minh's. Those who are living in wealthy families, so what needs to be done to show the examiners their efforts?
They have to set their own goals, their future jobs and how to achieved those goals. For example, my student, Hong Trinh, has made a decision of making an astronomical telescope in three months time. He not only has achieved his goal but his experience when he failed has helped he a lot when applying for the scholarships at University and Master levels in Clark Universities and Columbia Universities.
However, an impressive essay needs to be persuasive. If the essay only provides basic information then it will take lots of time for readers to receive, process, compare, etc. If it is written well, information will go directly to the limbic system in the brain which control emotions, effort and impetuous temperament. This impression will make readers fall in love with the essay without any reasons. The most important thing is students need to find an instructor who have experience about writing methods to make the essay persuasive.
As I mentioned, applying for a scholarship is a long run. It needs the cooperation between students, family and school. The experienced instructor will help students choose the best scholarship and how to build up a nice document. Thus, applying for scholarships will cost less time.
Thanks for your information.
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