Simple steps to higher education for mid-career Development Professionals
….Do you at times think that its time (mid-career professional) one either upgrades his/her learning and knowledge on the specific subject / theme, as one feels hitting a saturation point or believes that in-order to make a giant leap, a transition, subtle though, is a must to venture and learn more about a different yet related subject area. .
If yes, this is an appropriate timing to select and apply for further studies.
This article is an attempt to equip one with the basic information so one can immediately pursue the plans without much a-do. The focus however is on the professionals working in the development sector.
One needs to thoroughly examine their thoughts to conclude the larger aim of learning, whether it is about acquiring a new skill or updating oneself on the existing ones. As soon as this clarity prevails, it is easy to choose from the list of subjects offered by various Universities. For example Policy, gender, environment, natural resources management, agriculture, energy community development, ICT4D etc. to name just a few.
There are range of study programmes available based on the need and availability of a professional, for example one can take up a one-year long programme or choose to pursue short-term courses also referred to as summer/winter-courses, which may suit the best to people who cannot afford to take a longer-break from work.
Almost all the Universities have an online admission form which can be filled up either at the same time or be saved online. One is also required to upload scanned copies of the transcripts, degree and certificates along with the application form. It is however best to keep all your information regarding scores at the University level or other courses handy. Further almost all the Universities require one to undertake the compulsory English language test be it an IELTS or TOEFL, not beyond two years of applying for the study programme. While a few Universities may waive off this necessary test on the basis of the University transcripts which undertake the medium of study being English, most universities are firm on the scores of English language test, which vary from one university to another. One may apply online to take up either of the two listed tests in a very few simple steps. (Refer to the websites http://www.ielts.org/ and http://www.toefl.org).
A very clear statement of purpose is also required to be submitted along with the application form. One must take time to draft this statement to reflect ones background viz-a-viz the proposed study programme. Since all the courseworks at the Masters’s level and beyond require working on a dissertation, it is advisable that a brief statement about the proposed dissertation be also included in the Statement of purpose, to provide more clarity on your aim to pursue a particular programme. It works best to apply and get offered seats at a couple of Universities prior to applying for the scholarship also since many scholarships provide an option for filling in the various offers and that also counts in favour of the applicant.
One of the most essential criteria to apply for a scholarship is the age-limit, which is very strictly followed by all the scholarship providing agencies. While it is still easier to avail a scholarship within an age limit of 30-35 years, only a very few scholarships are available for the age group 35-40 and much less beyond that. It is recommended that one should particularly be sure of the age-limit prior to applying for that award.
Both academic and professional references are a must while applying either to the University or the scholarship and said sources must be apprised/ informed well in advance to enable timely submission of applications. While at many Universities the request for reference is directly sent to the contact persons referred to in the application form, in a few others these references have to be collected by the candidate and sent to the said agency. A closer follow-up with one’s peers, seniors is a must to plug any lapses whatsoever in timely submission of references.
In many a cases a few Universities offer their own scholarships to cover the tuition fee for a particular course and one may only require to apply for a partial scholarship to take care of their travel or living expenses.
In addition to a brief list mentioned above, one can subscribe to a mailing list of Scholarships-positions at the following link http://scholarship-positions.com/ to remain updated about the forthcoming calls for scholarships and grants.
Last but not the least, it is always good to start in time to make good use of a whole lot of learning opportunities available today.