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.

21 thoughts on “Chevening: A Lost Dream.”

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  3. 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….

  4. 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.

    1. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. Hi Syaza Nazura,
    I found your story to be an inspiration for me to apply for the scholarship even though it’s very competitive. I plan on taking A Levels but got discouraged by its expensive fees. So, I might want to apply for Matriculation. Which Pre-University course did you study to get this scholarship? Does the scholarship accept Matriculation?

    1. Hi Alif,

      Thanks for your comment. The Chevening Award is only for postgraduate/Master’s level studies. In your case, for pre-university/undergraduate, it would not be applicable.

  7. Hi Syaza! When did they inform you about the interview?
    I am impatiently waiting to be shortlisted but its the 10th of February and I still haven’t received any emails.

  8. Hi, thanks for sharing your experience. I am currently studying undergraduate in medicine and will graduate in June 2021. I am interested to start master in September 2021 in UK. Is it possible? Can I apply in 2020 for scholarship in 2021/2022? Thanks for reading.

    1. Hi. You’ll need a minimum of two years of working experiences to be eligible for the Chevening scholarship, so if you’re graduating in June 2021 and planning to apply by Nov 2020 to start in Sept/Oct 2021, you wouldn’t be eligible.

  9. Hi Syaza,

    Thank you so much for this write up and the insights. I was wondering, does it decrease the chance of success if you’re applying for a course that is unrelated to your undergraduate degree? Example, I have a law degree but I would like to to take up more of humanities subject, like religion or conflict studies.

    Thank you and wishing you all the best in all your endeavors.

    1. Hi,

      I don’t think the choice of courses make any differences, as long as you can articulate why you chose them and what you’re planning to do afterwards.

      Good luck!

  10. Hey Syaza! First off, thanks for writing on your experience as I am sure it will be insightful to potential applicants for the Chevening Scholarship. I would just like to ask – since you did not manage to secure the Chevening Scholarship, did you have to drop the unconditional offer from the University who made you that offer? It seems like you missed out that portion of the story.

    Aside from that, I really love reading this article! I appreciate it.

  11. Thanks for sharing! very useful.

    What are the chances of getting the scholarship if we already received unconditional offer from one of the universities we have chosen?

    1. Hi! Personally, I don’t think they base the scholarship decisions on whether you have received an offer from your universities or not (I’ve received all 3 unconditional offers but still didn’t make it through). It’s based mostly on your application, your essays and your interviews and how you best show what you plan to get out of the whole experience.

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