Scholarships are an undeniable boon. They’re also immensely helpful in making university accessible to students everywhere. As such, it may not surprise you to note that, depending on the scholarship you’re applying for, you may be facing some intense competition.
Students these days are becoming increasingly prudent about their finances. Learning how to make your application stand out is more crucial than ever. Here are some ways you can craft a scholarship application that will leave a lasting impression.
1. Write a good essay
The most surefire way to stand out from the crowd when applying for a scholarship is to write a solid scholarship essay. It’s your best chance at showing your audience who you really are beyond your academic qualifications and professional experience and why you deserve the scholarship over everyone else.
A compelling essay usually begins with a strong hook. Begin with a story or memory that is both memorable and concise. Be creative, but don’t meander without relevance. Note that you should answer the question asked authentically, in a way that only you will be able to. It’s also vital that you pay close attention to whether it’s formatted as per the guidelines provided.
Remember that the panel of people who will be reading your essay has likely read several. What can you add that will make them stop and take notice?
2. Have your recommendation letters ready
Many students collect recommendation letters from employers, teachers, and others as soon as they start applying to university. However, if you want them to be useful to your scholarship applications, these letters have to be crafted specifically with your scholarship in mind.
It’s important that you ensure the person writing your recommendation letter is aware of the scholarship criteria and incorporates them as seamlessly as possible. It might be helpful to provide them with a template to work around. Remember to begin the process earlier so that the people providing you with your letters have ample time to write them in an effective and well-polished manner.
3. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Self-reflection is key to getting your desired results. It’s essential that you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and know how to highlight the former over the latter when applying for scholarships. Understand where your academic accolades are relevant and where you should let your personal accomplishments shine through. Remember to be honest and authentic while also talking up your achievements.
4. Be specific and personal
A scholarship application is a prime opportunity to detail personalised and relevant stories about yourself. You want to ensure that you’re giving sufficient anecdotal evidence about why you deserve the award. Emphasise the things you’ve done and the way they have changed you for the better.
You can even expound upon your experiences with other people and how they’ve helped to shape you into the person you are today. The stories you share should be specific, not vague and detached. They can either be representative of one incident or a particular time in your life. Ultimately, the anecdote must depict a lesson you’ve learnt or an underlying theme that is pertinent to the scholarship.
5. Check to see if you’ve made any mistakes
Ensure that you have read through your application multiple times before sending it in. No matter how pitch-perfect you think your application is, it doesn’t hurt to proofread it just one more time. After all, financial aid for your academic pursuits is nothing to scoff at. You will want to show the person reading your application that you have allotted this task the seriousness and meticulousness it deserves.
After completing the application, read the questions and your answers aloud. Doing so helps solidify your understanding – or lack thereof. If you find yourself confused about what you’ve written, you might benefit from some rewrites or edits.
It could also help if you have a fresh pair of eyes to go through the application. The other person is more likely to point out any typos or errors you’ve made and provide valuable feedback. Knowing that you’ve done everything you can goes a long way to ease your mind once you hit “submit”.
Applying for a scholarship can be a long-winded and stressful endeavour. That doesn’t mean you need to compromise on the quality of your application. Stand out from the crowd right from the get-go by following the aforementioned tips.
BrightSparks offers a myriad of useful tips and resources for those looking to apply for scholarships and further their academic journey!