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Why Your Grades Are Not So Important 

 June 16, 2020

By  Mobolaji Folorunso

Let me ask a question…

The first time you thought of applying for scholarships abroad, what was the first thing that came to your mind after that?

Now, if you were like me that finished with a Second Class grade, the first thing that would come up is…

“Am I qualified with this Second Class degree?”

Why is this so?

Because while I was in university, we usually heard of some of our seniors then that finished ahead of us, who finished with first class, getting scholarships left, right and centre for graduate studies abroad.

And when you look at the number of first class students in your class then, you’d just be calculating the number of scholarships that those ones would be getting once they finished Bachelor’s studies.

So, the fear of winning a full Master’s scholarship abroad with Second Class Upper or Lower was real, and understandable.

I guess this was one of the reasons why I put off the idea of studying abroad for a number of years.

I mean, abeg, I no fit come dey waste the small money wey I get on top something wey no sure.

You feel me?

But, then I got tired of postponing this thing and decided to start searching.

I started seeing a number of scholarships that weren’t so particular on the kind of grade you finished with from university.

One of which was the Swedish Institute Scholarship.

Of course, there were others that required that you should have graduated as top 5%, 2%, 10% of your class, which is their way of saying….you guessed right….first class degree.

So, if grades are not so important for the Swedish Institute Scholarship, how do they now determine who wins the scholarship and who doesn’t get it?

You see, most scholarships that do not specify academic achievement as one of their selection criteria usually have work, leadership, and/or volunteering experiences as the major determining factors of recipients of the scholarship.

This is how the Swedish Institute Scholarships for Global Professionals works.

In fact, from the name of the scholarship, you can already deduce that the focus of the scholarship is on….professionals….in other words, people with…work experiences.

This is how the Swedish Institute determines who wins the scholarship or not.

That is how people like us, non-first class students, could have won the scholarship.

In fact, most of the people I know that have won the scholarship in the past finished with Second Class Upper/Lower.

Ok. so, am I saying that grades do not play any role in the admission and scholarship process in Sweden?

Of course not. Grades do have some role to play.

But, they are only relevant during the admission process. They are not relevant during the scholarship application process.

The admission process and the SI scholarship application processes are TWO different processes in Sweden.

The admission process is handled by an organisation called, University Admissions in Sweden, while the scholarship application process is handled by the Swedish Institute.

University Admissions are the ones that need your grades for admission into universities in Sweden.

So, am I saying that irrespective of the grade you have, you can get admitted for Master’s studies in Sweden?

My answer…YES!

Sometime ago, I was discussing with someone who wanted to apply for Master’s in Sweden for the second time.

He had applied the year before, got admitted, but didn’t get the scholarship.

And then, while I was trying to ask questions about his profile, I asked him what grade he finished with, and he told me “Pass”.

I thought I didn’t hear him the first time, and asked again.

He reaffirmed that he finished with a “Pass” grade from university!

I mean, he got admitted for Master’s studies in Sweden with a Pass grade from Bachelor’s studies!

I was massively surprised.

And this led to my conclusion that:

As long as you finished your Bachelor’s studies, irrespective of your grade, Pass, Third Class, Second Class Lower, Second Class Upper, First Class, you can get admitted for Master’s studies in Sweden.

I’ve discovered that universities here are not so particular on who came first or second.

As long as you passed your courses, you’re good to go.

But, does that mean first class is useless?

Nope. Most Master’s programmes you can get selected for with a non-first class Bachelor’s degree are usually the least competitive ones.

In other words, not many people apply for these Master’s programmes. So, they could admit all candidates that meet the requirements of that programme.

First class grades and Second Class Upper grades usually come into play when applying for the highly competitive Master’s programmes.

So, if you have a Pass, Third Class or Second Class Lower, you have better chances of getting admitted if you apply for the least competitive Master’s programmes.

And how do you determine how competitive a Master’s programme is?

Through the Admisison Statistics website.

On this website, you can check how many candidates are admitted every year for different Master’s programmes in Sweden.

For those that have joined my 5-day email course on studying in Sweden, I already explained in Lesson 5 how to use the website. So, just revisit that lesson.

If you’ve never joined the email course, you can join here. It’s FREE.

The conclusion of this matter is that:

You can be admitted for Master’s studies in Sweden with Pass, Third Class, Second Class Lower, if you select the least competitive Master’s programmes…

And winning the scholarship ONLY depends on your work and leadership experiences.

Comment below if this has been helpful.

Mobolaji Folorunso


Mobolaji was a recipient of the Swedish Institute Study Scholarship, now known as the Swedish Institute Scholarship for Global Professionals. He studied for a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and a Master's degree in Industrial Engineering and Management at Linköping University, Sweden. After winning the scholarship in 2017, Mobolaji has been coaching prospective applicants for the scholarship on how to present strong applications for the scholarship. He founded Scholars.Africa to help prospective African graduate studies applicants on how to successfully access funding for graduate studies in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

Mobolaji Folorunso

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