The Best Scholarship Applications Start Here
Learn how to frame your story
Scholarship applications are very rarely based purely on grades or extramural activities. While having both of these things going for you is certainly good in getting your application over the line, learning to frame your story in the best way to suit your audience will ensure that the review board are confident that you will do best, without a reasonable doubt, with the financial assistance that their scholarship provides. If, for example, you’re applying for a scholarship that supports Asia-New Zealand relations, it is clear that they are looking for someone who can become a bridge between two cultures, so framing yourself as such is a wise way to go. If your scholarship is going to be granted from a company or organization, research the organization’s values, projects, and commitments and frame your story in such a way that it is clear how you fit within their system of beliefs. If the board can see that you have the potential to fulfill the same mission as them with the financial assistance, it is more likely that they will grant you the scholarship over other candidates who present themselves as the opposite to the culture of the organization or company with the power to decide their fate.
Keep your grammar and spelling tight
This is a matter of effort. Although you can get away with poor spelling and grammar in most instances at school and university, this is perhaps not the case for scholarship applications. When a committee is reviewing applications, they will be looking to see how much effort you have put into your application, and poor spelling and grammar is a sure sign that your effort has been minimal. This rings alarm bells as it makes the committee question whether you are capable of putting in the effort to see the entire scholarship through. Have someone read over your application to ensure that it is looking professional, even if that person is a lecturer. It will pay off in the end.
Understand the importance of diversity
This is perhaps not something you can change about yourself, but it is important in coping with being rejected from some scholarships while being accepted by others. Most scholarships exist to help people in hardship achieve success by removing the financial burden of study. Broadly, those experiencing hardship in this day and age are members of certain ethnic communities, women, people who are differently abled and people from disadvantaged communities. If you are from one of these groups, make sure to include this in your application, and to state what value this scholarship can bring to you, your family and, importantly, your wider community. If you do not belong to one of these groups and you find yourself being rejected from a scholarship application, you may find peace in knowing that the scholarship was given to someone who otherwise would have struggled significantly at university due to factors beyond their control, and they could perhaps be on their way to a better life for them and their families now.
Did you know that some scholarships get no applicants at all? Yes, you read that correctly. There are scholarships out there that people simply do not know exist, and it takes combing through databases to find them and their criteria. Most libraries have scholarship databases, or it only takes a Google search to find options relating to your specific field of study offered by universities and private institutions alike. When there’s no competition for a scholarship, it’s basically easy money. Remember that you have no way of knowing how many people have applied for a particular scholarship, so always ensure your application is of a high standard and matches the story of the institution you want to represent.
Research something of value to your immediate community
When applying for research scholarships, there are strategies to ensure that your application stands out from the crowd. Firstly, find a novel research topic that has not been done before, or from an angle that has not been explored before. Then relate this topic to your immediate community. The fact that you want to improve the lives of the people around you through your research will stand out. If your research has the potential to improve the lives of the people on the scholarship committee, you’re well on your way to securing that financial aid. Coupled with a slick application and a cohesive story, the novelty of your research as well as the immediate impacts of such research on the lives of the people who matter in your life will make you a fit contender for the title.
A scholarship application must always consider the capability to do well, as well as the capability to navigate the system. By designing your application to fit the patterns, values and commitments of the organisation giving it out, as well as the intention of the scholarship (and its founder), you improve your chances of being granted a financial package that could help you sail through university more easily than if you were burdened by money woes.