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For mass communication students: How to finance your education abroad

For mass communication students: How to finance your education abroad
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On December 2nd, 2016, I got a twitter notification where I was requested to share tips on how to secure scholarships for higher studies in Mass Comm abroad. Having seen the “favorites” and “retweets” the message received, I decided to take a step back and answer the question.

First off, many roads lead to the market. What works for aunty Lagbaja might not work for uncle Ajala. Some of these tactics on how to bag a scholarship [or scholarships] are not set in stone, aside from the already laid out opportunities created by institutions where you want to study.

Before you apply to a school abroad, be sure that the program offering is not available locally. It will save you a lot of stress, and money too! Also, abroad might not necessarily mean schools in the U.S. or Europe. Some institutions in Africa have kicked off diverse programs to encourage Africans to study on the continent.

When you have identified at least two schools of choice, the next step is to apply. Depending on the school, if you meet the admission requirements, your offer might also come with a full or partial scholarship [most provided on merit]. However, if you are offered a place without any financial support, some financial aid offices of the schools will still provide you with links to where you can apply for loans or financial assistance. Where none of this is in place, the onus is now on you to scrape the internet for sources of potential funding.

Here are some unconventional ways to support yourself financially:

  1. Family: This is a great way to keep the wealth in the family. Just as you would rally around family members to fundraise for your wedding or side project, family members are also a good resource for funding your studies abroad.
  2. Fullbright scholarship: They have a program in Nigeria.
  3. Independent scholarship: Some organizations offer scholarship to students from developing countries e.g. IFMA, Mastercard Foundation Scholars
  4. Private loan: You might know someone who knows someone who might be willing to invest in your future. Seek them out.
  5. Bank loan: When I first gained admission to Columbia uni, I contacted one of the prestigious banks in Nigeria requesting for a loan. Looking back, I wonder what I was thinking! No, the bank did not offer me a loan. I think the manager feared that I might disappear into the 174million people in Nigeria and never be traced for a refund. But this is a good option if you have exhausted all your means and do not want to give up your place. Someone I know said that she was offered a loan from a bank in Hong Kong! But be careful, read the contracts before you sign the document. If possible, look for a lawyer to help you peruse the hidden clauses.
  6. Part-time job: Some schools offer teaching assistantship or research position to enable students to work while they study. Depending on the city where you live, you might also be able to secure a part-time job that can help pay off your bills.

These things change every time. Being proactive in combing through the internet or asking the right people for new updates on opportunities will help you stay ahead of the game. Here are some sites to keep an eye on: scholars4dev, AfterSchoolAfrica, and ScholarsHubAfrica.

Good luck with your search!

About The Author

Books, Tech, journalism, communications & more

Jennifer Ehidiamen is a writer and an entrepreneurial journalist with interest in media development. She has worked as a reporter and communications consultant for different organizations in Nigeria and overseas. In 2014, she founded Rural Reporters (www.ruralreporters.com) with the goal of amplifying underreported news and issues affecting rural communities. In late 2012, she spent 3 months in Ethiopia training young women on how to use different communication tools to tell stories about their communities to a global audience. She has an undergraduate degree in mass communication from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos, and M.A. in business and economics from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York. Favourite quote: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". She tweets via @disgeneration

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