Let’s face it – the competition for scholarships is tough. As the BrightSparks Scholarship and Education Survey 2019 showed, at least 80% of JC students intend to apply for scholarships (or have already started the application process).
You may know of many peers who have higher GPAs and a whole list of CCA accomplishments applying for the scholarships that you’ve shortlisted. “There are so many better candidates ahead of me. How could I get a scholarship?” you think, and shelve that application you’ve been preparing.
Please don’t! Remember, what organisations are looking for isn’t a perfect scorer with all the right interview answers. Instead, they want someone who can grow and contribute to their organisation. They are searching for ‘fit’ – a synergy between your goals and interests, and their mission and work.
To help you achieve this ‘fit’, we’ve detailed some tips for standing out and getting your application noticed.
1. Make sure you fulfill the criteria.
You’ll be surprised at how many applications fail because applicants didn’t check all the boxes in terms of basic requirements. Before applying, go through the requirements of the scholarship and make sure it’s something that fits.
Does it look at CCA participation, or require a particular GPA score? (Some scholarships also focus on particular fields of study, or require proof of application.) Make sure you have what it takes so that you don’t end up wasting your time!
2. Proofread, proofread, proofread!
We cannot emphasise the importance of a well-written, error-free application enough. Many applications have ended up in the bin for being riddled with spelling mistakes or grammatical misses. To avoid this, always take a break and reread your application to catch any small errors that you missed.
It’s a must to get someone else to look over your application, such as a friend or parent. A second pair of eyes always helps in spotting mistakes, especially when your pair is tired out from writing and rereading the application!
Another benefit to having a proofreader is they look at you from an outsider’s perspective, and can offer valuable advice on what to emphasise in your application.
3. Personalise your presentation.
As we mentioned, organisations are looking for individuals they can groom for later contributions. They wish to sponsor students who will grow and learn with them, providing unique contributions and serving with passion.
Scholars often tell us how their existing interests matched with their sponsoring organisation, like Pearlynn Sim, whose natural love for the outdoors contributed to her receiving the NParks Undergraduate Scholarship.
Emphasise your uniqueness! Why are you especially suitable for this scholarship? Perhaps you interned with the organisation previously, or your CCA is related to the organisation’s work. Or their mission and values resonated deeply with your own. Make sure to note such things in your application.
4. Let yourself shine!
We’re a modest lot. Call it the Asian upbringing or our Singaporean culture, we don’t like to brag about ourselves, but scholarships are the place to do a little bragging.
Celebrate your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to highlight them. For example, if you feel that you have contributed a great deal to your JC or CCA, do let the organisation know (and include specific examples). Include references from people who have contributed to your success.
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