Hello everyone! So before I forget all the drama and ordeals that I have been through throughout the 3 month long period from application to final announcement, I guess I should write all of this down first.
For this blog post, I will be sharing some of my own experience for KGSP-G application. Before I go into more details, allow me to write some #humblebrag.
I got accepted into Yonsei University for their Global MBA masters program. And for those who are a big fan of Korea in general, I guess you would know that Yonsei University is one of the SKY universities in Korea. It is really prestigious and I also heard that the acceptance rate is really reallyyyyy low. To give you a real life example, for my batch only 5 scholars who applied via university track were accepted into Yonsei.
So what did I do or rather, what are my so called “qualifications”? To be honest during the application process I was dying to know my fellow scholars’ (read: competitors haha) qualifications as well as it gives me some sort of benchmark and I would be able to gauge my chances into getting accepted. But if you are seriously going to apply for this scholarship, please do not be discouraged after reading this post. I have seen people with wayyyyy better qualifications that didn’t even pass the second round. I believe that being able to fit into the program is way more important than just merely having extraordinary qualifications.
Disclaimer alert: Not trying to brag or anything but whatever that is written below are indeed my qualifications that I have worked hard for. If it comes off a bit too show off-y in your opinion, I guess you can just skip the section in pink below and go on to the next paragraph… 🙂
- Major: Bsc. (Hons) Food Science with Nutrition
- University: Taylor’s University, Lakeside Campus, Malaysia
- CGPA: 3.93
- Publications: 1 (more on this later)
- Working experience: Product Executive (2 years upon time of application)
- Job scope: Brand management and trade marketing
- Awards: 6 Dean’s List, 6 Book Prize Award, 2nd runner up in MIFT competition [these are just the ones that I included in my application]
Ok so let’s get started. The application will be opened in the beginning of February each year. You can find the announcement and also necessary information and forms at www.studyinkorea.go.kr under the scholarships tab. I won’t be going though step by step on EVERYTHING that you gotta fill up in the form as it’s pretty long. I’ll just be giving some tips on the more important sections only.
So basically there are two methods to apply, namely the university track and embassy track. I’ll make a separate post on university track vs embassy track later on. So for me, I chose the embassy track and the deadline given to me was 18 March 2017 to submit all my documents to the South Korean Embassy in Malaysia. The deadline may be different every year and also for different countries so please remember to call up the Korean Embassy in your country to check. You would have to prepare 1 original copy plus 3 photostat copies of all your documents (making it 4 sets in total). I notarized my degree certificate, degree transcript and also passport copies only as it wasn’t necessary to notarize my award certificates.
After downloading the form, you may notice that you are required to write a letter of self introduction, study plan and future plans. Among the other things, you would also need 2 letter of recommendations from your lecturers as well. So here is how I prepared for my application:
Letter of recommendation:
I am aware that my lecturers have really busy schedules so once I got the recommendation letter form, I immediately forward the form to 2 of my lecturers (Dean and Associate Dean of my faculty) seeking for their help so that there was ample time for them to fill it up and pass it back to me. I was fortunate enough to receive help from another lecturer, who has offered to help me collect the letters from both of them and passing it to me so that I won’t have to run about too many times. 🙂
Please take note that the letters have to be submitted in a sealed envelope and your lecturer has to sign at the back of the envelope alongside with an official stamp. So that means I had no idea what was written inside haha. But anyway, I know they have written me good comments. I believe all lecturers want the best for their students.
Letter of introduction:
In my humble opinion, I believe this document is THE most important document in the entire pile of forms/certificates that you will be submitting. Within the one page boundary, this is the ONLY chance for us to let those who review our application an opportunity to know about us better. I believe there are many websites that is able to guide you on what should you include. But for me, the rule is NOT TO HARD SELL.
Instead of just blindly stating out all my strengths, achievements, awards and so forth like a desperate salesman trying to tell people how good is the product that I am selling, I went for a more “emotional concept” for my letter. To make full use of the one page limit, I did not talk about my results, my education history and all my awards AT ALL as I believe the certificates that I attached can do the talking. Instead, I focused more on my experiences, my opinions and perspective on my career and my future. It’s like reading a story on how my life and perspective has changed after achieving a certain milestone in life.
Pro tip: While talking about your experiences you can also slot in one or two sentences on why do you think that experience will help you in your studies in Korea. – wink-
Pro tip 2: You may notice that in the form, some pointers are given to you on what should you include in the letter. To be safe, I have included all the pointers in my letter as I believe that is the level of their expectations.
Study plan and future plans:
Again, similar to the above letter of introduction, pointers are given on what to include so it’s best to include everything and add in more items if you have not reached the one page limit. I am a strong believer of maximizing the word count (or page count, for this matter) because it means that I can fit it as much information as possible. #kiasu #maximizingROIsince1992.
P/S: Kiasu literally means being afraid to lose out.
For study plans, since I will be studying MBA, I focused more on my forte and also my weaknesses that I noticed throughout my work experience. I highlighted on the areas I wish to improve and how MBA can help me in adding value to myself. Since I had a bit of room left after writing those things, I also mentioned on the electives that I would like to take and the reasons why.
But things can be a little tricky for those who applied through embassy track as we are given a chance to choose 3 universities. Across all my three choices, which are 1. Yonsei, 2. SNU, 3. Korea University, I picked a similar course for all three so it wasn’t too hard for me. But even so, all 3 courses have their major differences and obviously they are not the same with each other. So for me, the rule of thumb is that I focused more on my first choice (Yonsei GMBA) and written my study plan based on their curriculum.
As for future plans, it is also important to note that different courses fit differently for people with different future goals. It is important for you to identify what would you like to do after graduation before proceeding to pick the course that matches your interests and plans. Like I said earlier, how well you fit is more important than your qualifications. Before you even begin with the application, it is important for you to research more on the universities and courses that are offered before you make the choice. For my future plans, I split it into 3 sections, namely short term plans, intermediate plans and long term plans. I felt it is more systematic to write it this way and it will show my growth process and how I can utilize the experience gained from my short term plans when I start my intermediate plans and so forth.
One of the optional items to include are your publications. Basically I just submitted my dissertation that I have written in my final year during the degree program as one of my lecturers has informed me that it DOES COUNT as a publication despite the fact that it is not technically published in any journals before. I guess it would add to your advantage if you are planning to pursue a major that is related to your publications. But for my case, since I am switching from a food science major to a business major, I am not sure how it has impact my application. But having said that, having 1 publication is better than no publications at all haha. My dissertation (some may call it thesis) is 80 pages long! So imagine how thick my application documents are after combining everything. #kiasu
So after consolidating all the documents that are needed, I just dropped them off to the embassy a few days before the deadline. The guards at the embassy were super friendly and helpful. They obviously can sense how nervous I am and they assured me that they will pass the documents inside to the right person right away before I leave so that I don’t have to worry haha.
After submitting the documents, it will be the start of The Wait: The Beginning.
To be continued…