Ijaaz Jackaria, who graduated from the University of Chicago, where he majored in Philosophy and minored in Physics and Middle Eastern Studies, takes us through what can be a life-changing experience – winning a US scholarship. He is currently a Senior Education Consultant at Hale Education Group and Head of the Hale Scholars Programme.
13 March 13 2015
5.30 am (Mauritian time)
I am usually not an early riser, but that day was an exception. That day was a special day. Squinting at my laptop screen – pretty sure there was no blue light filter then – I read carefully:
‘Congratulations on your admissions to the University of Chicago. The Committee on College Aid is pleased to award you $71,810 in the University of Chicago need-based financial aid…’
Woah, that’s big news! To be honest, I did not know exactly what to feel. Back then, I had no idea how my admissions from the University of Chicago would change my life in so many amazing ways.
A bachelor’s degree lasts four years and costs around $300,000 in total on average
7 April 2021
9.13 am (Dubai time)
I got into Dartmouth!!
*sprinkles* *blind monkey* emojis
I can’t believe it, omg!
I gazed at the WhatsApp message my student Sonia just sent me, and I was so proud of her. She did it! She is going to an Ivy League university with a full-ride scholarship!
The US Dream
So many people dream of studying in the United States. With the breathtaking college campuses, latest research facilities, distinguished faculty, and a flexible education pathway, there is much to envy from a US college education. However, very often, there is one single barrier that crushes that dream: cost.
Attending college in the United States is very expensive – among the most expensive education in the entire world. A bachelor’s degree lasts four years and costs around $300,000 in total on average. To many students, this is way beyond what their families can afford.
The good news, though, is that many US universities are aware of the financial barrier when it comes to college education, and they offer generous financial aid to those who cannot afford it. However, for international students, only a select few universities will award financial aid, and it is very competitive since universities have limited funds allocated for deserving international students. These primarily include the Ivy Leagues and schools like MIT, Stanford, CalTech, University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, and Amherst College.
Since 2018, the Hale Scholars Programme has helped ten students, including students from Abu Dhabi, Palestine, Mauritius, and Kenya
What Does it Take to Secure Financial Aid from a US college?
Colleges look for talented applicants, for students who can add diversity to their campuses -be it through their outstanding academic performances, impressive community involvement, national or international entrepreneurial endeavours, spectacular artistic expressions, or anything that the student did that shows the admissions counsellors that they will enrich the college community. If a university accepts such a student, then it will make sure that they do not have to worry about money – universities will fulfil the financial needs of those students. And that can cover the total cost of attendance: tuition fees, room and board, travelling, insurance, living expenses, etc.
The Impact of those Scholarships
I cannot put into words how much a scholarship means to us students who cannot afford a US education; literally, for us, it means the world. And it is not just about the money. It is about all the doors that are opened as well: experiencing a new country, learning with people from across the globe, grabbing academic and professional opportunities.
Six years ago, in 2015, I was the only Mauritian student who received a full-ride scholarship from the University of Chicago. Today, I am an Educational Consultant working for Hale Education Group in Dubai. One of the most personally enriching parts of my job is to help deserving students apply to US universities and secure a scholarship.
Hale Scholars Programme
I am currently leading the Hale Scholars Programme; every year, we look for a small group of talented, high-achieving students from around the world. We provide them free of charge the whole US college counselling package: applying to US colleges, reviewing essays, test prep, applying for scholarships, etc.
Hale is also partnering with the Syrian Youth Empowerment Initiative, a non-profit organisation based in the US but with mentors across the world
Since 2018, the Hale Scholars Programme has helped ten students, including students from Abu Dhabi, Palestine, Mauritius, and Kenya. This past year, I have personally mentored Sonia, one of our Hale Scholars from Nigeria. As a mentor, I could relate to her in so many ways since I was in the same situation when I was a student – whether managing the anxiety that comes with the application process, dealing with college rejections, or keeping hope that things will work out in the end. Today, after much hard work and perseverance on Sonia’s part, she got an amazing acceptance with a full-ride scholarship at Dartmouth College, where she will be studying engineering.
Hale is also partnering with the Syrian Youth Empowerment Initiative, a non-profit organisation based in the US but with mentors across the world. We share our resources and expertise with SYE Initiative who works with Syrian refugees and youth in conflict zones, including Syria and Iraq.
At Hale, we empower students seeking to realise their maximum personal, academic, and professional potential through the pursuit of US higher education. By helping a student in need achieve their dream to go study in the US, we are grooming a future leader, innovator, or thinker who will give back to their own community and empower other youths to make a difference.