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Off to Saint Louis

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Tomorrow at this time I will be on my way to St Louis. So the first step of the new journey will begin soon. Although I am yet to finish all of my packing, it feels good to be just a day away from boarding my flight.


Written by abeautifulmind1

July 25, 2010 at 7:47 am

External Financial Aid – Part 2

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As promised in my previous post (External Financial Aid – Part 1), I am posting here the details of all the organizations that provide financial assistance for higher studies. Each of the organizations mentioned here provide financial assistance based on their own set of rules and criteria and its mostly impossible to make a guess of whether an applicant will actually receive any assistance after applying. Some of them are for all programs, some for only particular fields of study (like medical studies, art and culture, economics, etc) and some are country specific.

So do not bank to fund your studies based on these grants (except in 1 or 2 cases mentioned below). The dead lines for each scholarship/fund varies and the sooner you start the better it will be. I missed out on a few very good onces because I got in touch with the authorities after the deadline for collecting the application forms. Due the many details that I am posting for each scholarship, the posts will be very big in length and hence I will split the names of these scholarships/awards into multiple posts.

Name of the Fund/ Organization/ Scholarship Location Type Remarks
ITC (Indian Tobacco Company) Overseas Scholarships Kolkata Gift / Grant
  • Master’s in Business Management/Environment Engineering/ Environment Management degree in UK and USA – commencing in autumn of the years of the award
  • In UK: London School of Economics and Manchester Business School
  • In USA: Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Haas (UC, Berkeley) and Ross (U Michigan)
  • Very good – in terms of amount and reputation.
  • Limited to only the above mentioned schools/courses
  • Contact ITC after getting an admit.
TOEFL India Scholar Programme Princeton, NJ, USA Gift / Grant
  • Requires essays on future goals, your extra-curricular involvement, family background, etc.
  • Two recommendations
  • Very good amount ($10,000)
AGA KHAN Foundation New Delhi, Mumbai and other offices across the globe. Loan + Gift / Grant
  • One of the best options – covers full tuition
  • 50% tuition is gift and rest is a loan at 5% interest.
  • Highly reputed.
  • For candidates from developing nations like India. Check the website for all country names.
  • Three recommendations and SoP required.
  • Highly competitive selection process – open to candidates from many countries.
JN TATA Endowment Fund Mumbai Loan
  • Another very good option.
  • Highly competitive.
  • Open for all courses in India and Abroad.
  • Interest free loan of up-to INR 800,000.00
  • Requires two recommendations, one guarantor, SoP and additional references.
  • Highly reputed in India.
American Alumni Association Mumbai Gift / Grant
  • Provides free passage.
  • Easy online application.
Sir Ratan Tata Trust Mumbai Gift / Grant
  • Provides INR 40,000.00 for travel.
  • Open to all candidates going abroad.
Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program New Delhi Gift / Grant
  • Open to candidates across the globe. Highly competitive.
  • Highly reputed. Grants are named.
  • In India, only candidates with permanent address in the following states are eligible to apply: Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, J&K, West Bengal and all north-eastern states.
  • The above rule is a little bit strange. But the rules are rules. Period.
British Chevening Gurukul Scholarship for Leadership and Excellence British Council in Mumbai, Delhi. Gift / Grant
  • One of the best options for study in UK.
  • Covers full program fees, return air fare, VISA application fees and living expenses.
  • Apply online at the council only.
  • Applicants SHOULD NOT apply directly to the UK programme Providers.
Dr Manmohan Singh Scholarships  British Council in Mumbai, Delhi. Gift / Grant
  • For Doctoral Studies at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, UK.
  • Highly reputed.
  • Fully funds the program of study (Academic fees, air fare, VISA, monthly stipend, etc)
COMMONWEALTH SCHOLARSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIPS British Council in Mumbai, Delhi. Gift / Grant
  • Provides academic fees, return travel, allowance for books, apparatus, approved study, travel, personal maintenance (plus allowances, where applicable, for spouse and children). Fixed Research Support Grant in case of research.
Charles Wallace India Trust British Council in Mumbai, Delhi. Gift / Grant
  • Fully Funded Awards in the arts and heritage conservation fields of study.
  • Covers VISA and Full or part tuition fees.
  • Only for residents of the state of Goa or born of Goan parents.
  • Applicant should not be more than 30 years old at the time of applying for the scholarship.
  • Must have confirmed admission for any academic course of study in the UK for up to one year.
Dawoodbhoy Fazalbhoy muslim educational trust Mumbai  
  • Open to all Muslim students from India for professional studies.


More names and details will come soon. Keep checking this space.

Written by abeautifulmind1

July 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm

External Financial Aid – Part 1

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External financial aid is the financial assistance that a student can receive from sources other than the school or the university. It primarily comes from the numerous charitable organizations that provide scholarships or loans to students going for higher studies. Many times such a financial assistance is not related to the one received from the school, if awarded. However, in some cases the students have to notify the school of any external award/grant they receive and the amount awarded externally is then adjusted to the amount received from the school.

An external financial aid can be in various forms:

Gift Award: An outright grant by an organizations based on your application strength or need. There is no contest to be won in order to receive such an award. This is awarded many times by NGOs that do numerous types of charities including but not limited to helping people in attaining higher level of education. Such awards are mainly given on a need-cum-merit basis.

Loan Scholarship: A loan with either no or very low interest rate. This is also awarded most of the times by NGOs that do numerous types of charities including but not limited to helping people in attaining higher level of education. The amount received can vary from being small part of the tution to full tuition. These are normally the most sought after scholarships due to the possibility of getting an interest free full-tuition loan.

Loan-cum-gift: These are a mix of the above two categories where-in a part of the aid is given as gift and the rest of the amount has to be returned to the awarding organization at a later date.

Competition bases awards: These are in the form of essay competitions or some other form of contests. Some of these awards are open to all through out the academic circles but some are available only at the schools or universities with whom the awarding organization has a relationship. Sometimes these are not awarded by charities but by corporates who are trying to identify potential high performing employees.

Finally: Any other form that I do not know yet 🙂

In most cases every awarding organization has its own set of rules and eligibility criteria. Like your business school applications, these applications are also time-consuming and require a lot of effort. Most of them ask for a Statement of Purpose (similar to your career goals essay), recommendations, academic record and financial background information. In case of aid distributed by charity organizations, the amount is small but its available to many applicants. Sometimes only your travel expenses are covered, sometimes only a part of the tuition fees is covered and sometimes the entire tuition fees is covered (with some conditions). However, just as every drop of water constitutes to overall ocean, every small grant is helpful to the students.

The most important aspect here is to identify the numerous organizations that distribute such financial assistance. An important source of information for this is the school or university website. The financial aid section of each b-school website lists numerous sources of financial aid for all students – domestic and international. Here are some of the example links:




An important thing to remember here is that in many cases these lists are indicative and the students have to get in touch with the concerned organizations themselves. Each organization has its own deadline to apply and also its own set of eligibility criteria. Non-indian candidates can follow the links in the financial aid section of numerous b-schools or universities to identify the organizations where they can apply.

After an intensive search for the available options for Indian applicants, I was able to make a list of about 78 organizations that provide financial assistance for higher studies. The information available on the internet (or via any other source) was usually incomplete and I had personally get in touch with each organization to understand if I was an eligible candidate or not. It took me more than six weeks to identify the final 12 organizations where I was eligible to apply. The information received was not up-to-date or complete. Many of the organizations have now stopped providing any financial assistance, some do not exist any more, some provide assistance only to people following a particular religion or belonging to a particular community and so on.

My list was down to 12 as I was eligible to apply only the most generic scholarships that are open to everyone from India. The competition for such open category (as we refer to the people who do not belong to any reserved section of the society) is highly intense as people from both open and reserved category are eligible to apply. People from India will understand what I am trying to say here. As a result of this intense competition, the chances of getting any award are very low. Like the admission process, it all again drills down to your past academic record (read GPA), past awards received, recommendations, undergraduate school reputation, your current financial standing vis-a-vis that of other applicants, post graduation (not just post MBA 🙂 ) goals, etc.

I will soon post a list of all legitimate organizations that still provided financial assistance for higher studies to Indian citizens. As far as my current standing is concerned, my application was rejected by 4 organization, I have interviews scheduled with 2 of them, I am waiting for the results from 4 organizations and I received an award from 2 organizations :). The overall amount is minute when compared to my total expenses for the two-year MBA program at Olin, but when it comes to filling up the ocean I guess every little drop of water counts.

Written by abeautifulmind1

July 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Where the hell have you been?

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“Where the hell have you been?” is what some of my friends and blog visitors have been asking me very frequently now. For the record, I was just busy with winding up my job (yes I am a free bird now), cleaning up the mess in my room (took me 2 full days and still its only 2/3rd complete), getting my Student VISA and looking for some additional financial aid for studies abroad.

I received my Student VISA. The process was time-consuming in terms of filling up all the forms and arranging all the documents as expected. But once this was done, it was just a cakewalk. The entire VISA application process is actually very streamlined. The interview went quick and I just had to face 3-4 questions related to my program and my ability to fund my education. That is it.

Indian applications who have questions related to the VISA application can post a comment here and I will try my best to help everyone. However, before posting your queries please read the guidelines or the steps for applying for a VISA at http://vfs-usa.co.in. This site is specific to India. For the VISA application guidelines for other countries, please visit this site first: http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html.

My room. Ahh. After two days of cleaning my room and removing the extra stuff that had gathered over time I realized that I had 30+ brochures from different business schools, some books that I had finished reading long back but didn’t return them to their rightful owners and many printed copies of my essays. The room is now in a much better shape and there seems to be a lot of space now 🙂

As far as additional financial aid is concerned, I was hunting down all the trusts and organizations that provide some sort of financial aid to Indian applicants who are going abroad for higher studies. This whole thing was more difficult than the actual MBA applications and it deserves a separate post. I will post the details of all the information that I now have after my month-long marathon of finding the correct financial aid donors and applying to each one of them.

Finally, it is tme for some shopping.

Written by abeautifulmind1

June 24, 2010 at 8:58 am

ClearAdmit BoB results

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I just noticed that I was the top 5 blogger in the ClearAmit Best of Blogging list this year. I didn’t know I was such a good blogger :). It seems like my hard work at posting some relevant information for new applicants is paying off. I just won the Best School Selection Advice for one of my posts 🙂

Seems like people are liking what I am posting here. This has kind of increased my interest in blogging now. I actually started posting on my MBA journey just out of the excitement during this application process. I hope to continue posting on my MBA journey. Although now I will be focusing on post admit phase of this journey. The BoB poll also made me aware of a few student bloggers who are really good at blogging. They highlight their experience at their respective b-schools in an excellent manner. I am actually surprised by their dedication on posting on a regular basis. I hope will make it to the top 3 of the best student bloggers next year. So keep reading people.

Note: I thank all of my regular readers for making the visitor count go beyond 15K, ClearAdmit for organizing this competition and BoB Celebrity Judges and the fellow bloggers who voted for me.

Written by abeautifulmind1

May 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Posted in MBA - Applications

The journey so far

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My MBA journey this year has been both – tiring and interesting. I had some surprises, some funny moments and some disappointments. Fortunately, I managed to capture most of my moments on this blog. I initially started this blog to note down som of the interesting moments in my daily routine but ever since I started my MBA applications, most of my time was taken up my the application process. I came across almost all different phases of an average MBA application life-cycle. With this post I have just tried to summarize my MBA application journey so far:

After facing all different aspects of the MBA application life-cycle, today I am just happy to hold admits and a wait-list. I am just trying my best to convert my Johnson waitlist into an admit. Wish me luck please.

BTW … here are some useful links for prospective MBA applicants: Selecting Schools and Recommendations. I hope people find these useful. I have benefited a lot from MBA blots and hope to help out future applicants. If any of the future applicants out there have a query, just drop me a message or a comment and I will try my best to help you out.

Written by abeautifulmind1

April 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Posted in MBA - Applications

MBA Recommendations

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This is another post meant to help future MBA applicants. If you are about the apply for the Fall 2011 season and are yet to identify your schools, you might find this post useful. For now, here is some information on how to go about one more very important part of your application. An important part of each MBA application is the Letter of Recommendation (LOR). It’s as important as the quality of the essays, the GMAT score or the interviews. It not only acts as a testimony to your capabilities and achievements but might just also reveal a different perspective on your personality. Moreover, the questions in the LORs vary from school to school. The variety as well as the length of the answers sought can vary drastically. There can be just 3-4 questions in case of one school or 7-8 questions in case of another school. There will be questions on your professional performance for sure. But many times questions on personal characteristics of the applicants personality are also asked. Hence it is very important to choose the correct person for your recommendations. Here are some tips on identifying the best person to write your LORs and on submitting your LORs:

  • An ideal recommender is a person with whom you have worked on a regular basis (if possible, on a daily basis). This person should know you throughly in terms of your achievements till date, your capabilities, your weaknesses, your future aspirations and [to some extent] your personal background. This is very important because the recommender is supposed to provide some examples of your work. Examples on your strengths, your weaknesses or whatever. These examples are crucial to add value to your application. Otherwise the recommendation will be nothing but a cosmetic essay with a lot of adjectives to praise you.
  • Avoid peer recommendations. Many (well almost all) business schools do not accept or prefer peer recommendations. A person who has supervised your work in detail is the best person to write your recommendation. Your immediate manager/supervisor or your client (if you are self-employed).
  • If your current immediate manager is not a person who would be happy to see you applying for an MBA, do not ask him for recommendations. Do not jeopardize your employment in order to secure your recommendation. Ask a former manager at your firm or your previous firm. Make use of the additional information section in your essays to explain your choice of recommendations. In any case, if your chosen recommender doesn’t fall under the preferred choice of recommenders given by the school, make use of this section to explain why.
  • LORs are demanding in terms of time and energy. Do not rely on the same recommenders for all of your applications. They might not have enough time to do all of your LORs. Try to identify three to four people who can write your LORs and then split your recommendations for each school depending on the situation.
  • Many times offline formats of the questions in the LOR of each school are available on the school websites. Check the questions and brief your recommenders on these before asking them to write it. This way you can suggest some examples of your work (in case they need to be reminded 🙂 ).
  • Send the recommendation links (for online recommendations) to your recommender early. If its off-line, send the forms to them early. By early I mean as early as possible. Make sure they have enough time to fill the LORs. If they don’t do after a long time since you sent them the details, remind them on a regular (but not very frequent) basis.
  • Try to choose a recommender who has good writing skills. I don’t mean a person who can write winning essays for competitions but someone who can write professional letters in an articulate manner.

I hope the future MBA applicant find this information useful. If in case anyone has some specific questions, just put in a comment here on my blog. I will try to answer your queries to the best of my ability.

Written by abeautifulmind1

April 12, 2010 at 6:49 am

Posted in MBA - Applications