Chevening Scholarship application results for the year 2019 are trickling in, fast and furious and so are results for many other Scholarships. The year has just started, and you have just received your first REJECTION for the year 2020. Your first reaction is to fasten your seatbelt bracing yourself for many other rejections in the year. I feel you and therefore, this blog post is dedicated to you. If you are among those shortlisted to proceed, I will write a blog post dedicated to you next week. For today, let’s just deal with those nursing rejection.
Rejection of any sort is a hard phase to deal with. I know this too well because I have thirty plus years of life experience. With time you will soon realise, rejection just like failure sometimes is inevitable. It will come. It will knock at your door when you least expect it. Your reaction is what matters most. Last week in one of the Chevening digital chat platforms, a scholar shared a screenshot of an applicant who hinted that they were about to commit suicide after they received the rejection email. I empathised with this fellow. I really wanted to reach out to them, give them a long hug, buy them coffee and invite them for a conversation on ‘How to continue living after Rejection’ or ‘Rejection simply means Redirection.’ Since I couldn’t do much for them, I whispered a prayer and asked God to give them the necessary wisdom to realise rejection is never an invitation to committing suicide.
While this was happening, I also saw reactions through texts from those who were extremely bitter and annoyed at the fact that Chevening had sent them a generic email, yet they truly wanted to know where they went wrong. I could feel their yearning for personalized feedback. Hey, my love, I feel you. Please trust me when I say I feel you. I spent many sleepless nights just before the deadline with many of the applicants sending me their applications for last minute reviews. It was tough for me balancing between my studies and reading those endless essays and tracking comments. At the end of the season, I had gone through 48 essays. I have 12 candidates. 5 of them were random people who emailed me and asked for help. 7 of them are my mentees. Out of the 12, 5 have received rejection emails already. Yet, in my opinion they had fantastic submissions. I invested my time in their success. I prayed with them. I have been waiting for their results. The last two weeks, I have been feeling butterflies. So, their rejection is my rejection. Anytime I received a message that went like this, ‘Patience, I have received a rejection email’ my heart sunk.
The truth is, any time you make an application, whatever application, there is a way, all you want is a successful response. Sometime last year, I shared with you about my Chevening journey. You might want to revisit that post. Our faith doctrine asks us to have unwavering faith. To believe without a shadow of doubt that we will get anything that we ask for. Begs the question, “You did your best and you were convinced your application was fantastic. So why were you rejected?”
My friend, I truly wish I had answers to your question. When you send me a text and ask, “Patience, you read my essays, could you be having an idea as to why my application was rejected?” My honest answer is “Imagine I don’t. Like seriously. I am clueless. But I feel you. Your application was my application and I am sharing with you this rejection news.”
In 2019, there were 60,703 applications made. In 2018 during my cohort, there were about 55,000 applications made. Only 1,800 applicants made it to the various universities in the UK. That’s about 3% of the total applications made. Imagine, in each year, there are about 50,000 plus rejections. These rejections have names. Those names are for people like you and me. Someone will receive a rejection letter, inevitably. Therefore, if it is not someone else, then it must be YOU.
There are many possibilities as to why your application was rejected. I ask you to visit Chevening Website and read for yourself about all possibilities, then take a reflective moment and be sincere with yourself, marking your submissions against the various possibilities. You will be surprised, it could something as small as not meeting the minimum working experience required or not having calculated it as required. There are chances that you will find some disclosure. There are chances that something will come up. This you must do at a personal level.
Expecting Chevening Secretariat to send personalised feedback to over 50,000 applicants is expecting way too much from them. Isn’t this what happens when we put in job applications? At the interview, they tell you, “Do not call us, we will get in touch with successful candidates.” This is usually their polite way of managing expectations. Sometimes, you never get any response for those job applications you make. With Chevening, at least you get some feedback, albeit generic.
Think about the many silent rejections you have received over they years, but you are still alive. I can imagine how you trusted and believed that you will get a positive response but then came the rejection. Worry not. I am here to uplift and challenge you to keep trusting. To me, rejection is only but an opportunity to pause and redirect my life. If you feel extremely hurt, think about that candidate who applied for the 10th time and still got a rejection. Put yourself in their shoes. In life, there could be 99 NO’s and the first YES could be your 100th attempt. I pray that you do not have to get to your 10th attempt. Those will be 10 years down the line.
So, this is the reality. You and I might never get to know why you were rejected. The good news is, we have another chance to submit a better and a stronger application once again. For those who are looking for just scholarships to study abroad, please listen to Kylie Achie. She has listed some of the Scholarships being offered to African students Universities in the UK. The time to apply is NOW.
But, for those who realise Chevening Scholarship is more than just a degree in the UK, but more of a boost on your leadership trajectory, start thinking about your application NOW. You just missed the last attempt, but all is not lost. Let’s not waste time mourning. Its time to put on your fighting spirit. Do not take NO for an answer. You must stay focused on your vision. Read about other people’s testimonials; of people who failed in their first, second, third and got the Scholarship in their fourth attempt. Here is one such Scholar, Praise Makiwa from Zimbabwe. His, is a beautiful story.
The earlier you accept your fate, the more time and energy you have in putting together your next application. Take some time, process the loss. Feel the disappointment, the dejection, devastation or whatever the feeling. But, don’t stay there forever. Count your blessings and name them one one. Focus on everything else that is still within your radar. Instead of looking at the rejection as absolute failure, careful pick the lessons that come with it. Yes, Chevening is looking for outstanding individuals. By the mere fact that you applied, you are an outstanding human being. Keep up the faith and do not despair. This is only but a test on your patience. Do not take it personally. The people who were shortlisting you, have no idea who you are. They only met you through your application. Therefore, this has nothing to do with you as a person. Your friends were shortlisted, please celebrate them. Be genuinely happy for them. Follow them on their Chevening journey and engage them as soon as possible.
Rejection hurts. This is a fact. But you can bounce back, stronger than before. I want to see the victor in you. Keep up the spirit and lets start all over again. Hopefully I will be done with my studies the time the next call of application is out. I have plans to set up a small mentorship group for applicants from Kenya. So do not despair. You are not alone. I have you in my thoughts and I will walk the journey with you, again. Life is for the living. As long as we are alive, we have another chance to dream again, to focus again, to redirect our future.
For those who have been shortlisted, congratulations once again. The journey has just started. Another rejection awaits you. And it will feel tougher at this stage. I am writing a blog post for you, sharing tips on how to ace that interview. See you again, next week.