Grad School, Interviews, Study

Chevening: A Lost Dream.


I’ve never really wrote about this on the blog yet, but I promised myself, whether I succeeded or not, I’ll write a post about it anyway, so I guess this is it.

Last year in September/October, I decided to try out and apply for the Chevening Award 2018/19. It was a spur of the moment decision, and it was a shot to the stars. But heck, I decided to go for it and try my luck.

Back story: A Chevening Award is the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. The programme offers awards to outstanding scholars with leadership potential from around the world to study for a master’s degree in any subject at any UK university.

Who can apply for a Chevening Award? And how to do so?

Some basic requirements to qualify to apply for a Chevening Award includes:

  1. Be a citizen of a Chevening-eligible country,
  2. Have an undergraduate degree that qualifies you to start a postgraduate study in the UK,
  3. Having two years of work experience (which includes part-time, full-time, volunteer and internship experience), and
  4. Meet the English language requirement.

The application process is pretty lengthy, and complicated. The first part involves going through an eligibility review where they check if you’ve fulfilled the minimum requirements for the scholarship. If you passed the first eligibility check, they’ll go through the essays / statements that you’ve written and your whole application. Here, they want to see how you responded to their questions and how you fit the characteristics of their intended scholar(s). If your application makes the cut, you’ll be called for an interview, in which, well, pray to God that if you can make it through the interview and get an offer from them.

Give Chevening your best shot.

I’m not going to write a post on tips on getting a Chevening scholarship, because, obviously, no scholarship on my hands and all.  But I guess I just wanted to write about the whole journey because, why not, perhaps it was time to write about it now after keeping it to myself for the better part of the past one year. Plus it can help to serve as a reminder for Future-Me in case I’m thinking about trying out something new and challenging again.

The application process was, in my own personal opinion, pretty straightforward. The essays, with me being me and me loving to write about what I love to do and all, went well. I have to thank my advisor in the US, as well as a couple of friends, for helping me proofread my essays. They helped in providing input on how I could’ve made it better and everything.

The dreaded interview… Time to prove your worth.

Thankfully, luck was on my side when, in February, I received an email from the Chevening Secretariat, telling me that I was shortlisted for an interview. So I went ahead and scheduled my interview for March (which I mentioned briefly here), and it was one hell of an opportunity. There were 754 applicants from Malaysia alone for the Chevening Scholarships 2018/2019, and according to my interviewers, about 147 applicants were shortlisted. To be able to make it down to 147 applicants from about 750 applicants on my first try, well, that was pretty good to me.

Most (if not all) the questions I was asked during my interview.

Unfortunately, though, June started off pretty badly for me when the Chevening Secretariat sent me my rejection email. Truth be told, it was slightly anticipated – I realized during my interview that I wasn’t fully focus and ready for questions about my potential career path.

Understandably, as a person fresh out of university less than a year before my Chevening interview, I still had pretty vague ideas about where I envisioned myself to be (still do, even now). Even though I had some pretty solid ideas on what I wanted to do with my life, and why I wanted to study and pursue the programs I wanted, I wasn’t able to fully convince them of my future plans, because heck, I wasn’t able to convince myself of what my future plans are.

The end of the journey, at least for me.

So, I failed. My Chevening dream is a lost dream – but it was perhaps for a good reason. It gave me more time to actually think about what I wanted to do with my life, and prompt me to give more thoughts into my future career plans. And while I didn’t manage to secure a Chevening scholarship, that didn’t mean that I have to give up on my other dreams in life and stop pursuing my goals, it basically just meant that I have to find some other ways of pursuing my goals. Which is fine, because, hey, when one door closes, another door opens, no? 🙂

Alright then, until next time, stay awesome! 🙂 And to anyone reading this who will be applying or are thinking of applying for a Chevening Award, either for 2019/2020 or future cycles, I wish you guys all the best! And remember: BE YOURSELF – that’s what they’re looking for.


  • I was one of the shortlisted candidate for the chevening interview stage in April 2018… Actually to be honest, that was not a kind of tough interview… However, like you, I also one of the rejected candidate… What a valuable experience… Now, just received an email from chevening secretariate mentioned me to prepare for my reference letter… Guest what… I am longlisted for an interview.. But the process is quite difference than laste year process… As i could see, this year there are shortlisting the candidate based on their reference letter….

  • Thanks for sharing your experience, I read your blog looking to commiserate someone very dear to me. Her application was unsuccessful at the first step though, disappointing that she did not receive any feedback after all the work that went into the application.

    • Aww, I’m sorry to hear that! I emailed the Chevening secretariat to get my feedback from the interview, it took them about two months to get back to me with my feedback. I’m not sure if she can get feedback for the first step, as I got mine after I failed the interview stage. But I hope she’s doing okay!

  • Hey, I’m so sorry to read about this. First of all, I admire your courage, it’s one thing that I wasn’t ready for myself, the possibility of failing. Secondly, you are among the cream of the crop. You mentioned yourself that you’ve reached among the best 20% in overall applicant. I’m sure you’ll succeed in the future. Reading what you wrote here inspires me to apply. You’ve given me the courage. Thank you and good luck in your future endeavours!

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