A year ago, I was excitedly talking about applying for PhDs and how I wondered how I would ever afford to actually study if I was accepted somewhere. My first offer wasn’t a funded position so I knew in my heart that it would never happen. But the next two offers included studentship, making my PhD dreams more realistic, indeed!
Of course, those studentships only covered domestic tuition (in addition to a small living stipend) so I knew that I would have to come up with quite a bit of money to cover the difference between domestic and international tuition if I were to accept a place of study.
And let me just say: Coming up with more than £6,000 a year ($10,000/year) for three years isn’t exactly an easy thing to do when you don’t have buckets of money—or a rich uncle who has buckets of money.
Sure there are scholarships out there, but there are so many people who want them that they’re hard to come by. Plus that, so many of them have age caps that don’t suit “mature” students.
Still, I have found myself in need of a lot and a lot of money. And that means that I have to fill out a lot of scholarship applications. I mean, a lot of scholarship applications! Even though I know I won’t get most of them. (If I get any at all!)
I applied for a couple of scholarships last year, when I was looking for complete funding for Glasgow, but I was too late to apply for scholarships for Edinburgh Napier by the time I was accepted for the studentship and actually arrived to start the programme.
But it seems that the 2014/15 scholarship season is now upon us!
I applied for my first scholarship of the year yesterday (The Anita Borg Google Scholarship) but I have to say I’m a bit uncertain about it. Part of that, I’m sure, is down to my experiences with “imposter syndrome” but the other part is a genuine concern that my academic background is in media and culture—not computer science and technology. Yes, my research has touched on technology in the past and my PhD is very much about information science and technology, but I don’t have any accomplishments in those fields (yet).
Thinking positively, if I get this scholarship that’s €7,000 towards my tuition. And that will make a massive impact on my financial security!
Thinking negatively, I won’t get it. But that won’t make me worse off than I am now—it will just be continuing the status quo.
Of course, I am very blessed to have a place to stay in my friend’s home for the duration of my PhD if needed. And that means that even if I don't find a scholarship, I am not at risk of starvation or homelessness—and that I can still pay my tuition. (Though I will be on a tight budget. But I’m OK with that.)
I have a list of scholarships that I will be applying for when they open up for the 2014/15 academic year and I am constantly on the look-out for more. But I’m also realising that I need to start looking at travel grants and conference scholarships so that I can further my training and knowledge by attending academic events throughout the UK, Europe, and even the world.
In addition to searching for scholarships, I will save money by watching my grocery budget and by creating my own fashions from charity shop finds. I will also try to sell a few swirl cards here-and-there and will even look at paid employment through the university if possible.
As always, I’m open to suggestions. So if you know of a scholarship I should be applying to, please give a shout! Every little penny counts, after all.