A scholarship can be your ticket to a dream career, and being awarded one can easily be a major milestone in your life. Not only are educational costs sponsored, most scholarships also provide an allowance and the promise of the job immediately after graduation with the sponsoring organisation.
Yet, for such a huge opportunity, many students take the scholarship process too lightly. They forget their research, or wait until the last moment to submit their applications. (We speak from experience, as the BrightSparks portal is inundated with applications the day the A’Level results are released.) This results in sloppy, mediocre applications, or missing the deadlines entirely.
We understand that for many, this is their first time applying for a scholarship (and perhaps their first time applying for any sort of certification), so the process can look like a major headache.
So we’ve simplified it a bit with this handy 6 Step Guide. Go and Start Applying!
Step 1: Research
The first step is to understand what scholarships are all about. Mostly, scholarships comprise two components – full or partial sponsorship of your education (plus whatever extras may be listed), and a bonded career with the sponsor organisation.
Our BrightSparks portal and magazines contain lots of information about the scholarships available and what they involve, so check them out! But don’t stop there – research the organisations you find interesting, connect with other scholars who are studying or serving their bonds, and there’s always the good ol’ Google search.
If you have the time, try taking up an internship with an organisation you’re interested in, or attend a workshop or fair they organised. These are golden opportunities to get up close and personal with the organisation’s members, and learn about the work they do.
It’s important to remember that organisations offer scholarships not to give out need-based financial aid, but as a means for recruiting talented future employees. Ultimately, they are looking for candidates who would be a good fit for the organisation. So it is helpful to know what qualities they are looking for, and whether you would like to work for them.
Step 2: Know yourself
The first step to an informed decision is a level of self-awareness. This is especially true of a big decision like a scholarship, which is essentially choosing a career path.
Leading psychologists have found that the highest level of happiness is attained when one is able to use his strengths in service of a cause that he believes in. It follows that you should understand yourself better in at least two areas – your values and your strengths.
There are several ways to go about increasing your self-awareness. The first, and definitely the most effective, is to be more introspective. Besides enlisting the help of family and friends to share their observations with you, you could also try some personality tests online such as the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.
Step 3: Shortlist scholarships
Now, knowing yourself and what you’d like, it’s time to decide which scholarships to apply for.
While there’s a temptation to apply for scholarships you have a chance at being selected for, remind yourself that that’s only one side of the story.
You must also consider which scholarships are suitable for you in the first place. Assuming you are sure of your interests, you should select scholarship providers with matching career opportunities, and whose corporate mission and core business resonate with you.
Remember to utilise our Scholarship Comparison Table to compare the array of scholarships available!
Step 4: Apply
Having sorted out where you want to go, it’s time to apply!
Generally, the window for applying to most scholarships opens the day the ‘A’ level results are released, and closes two weeks later. Some scholarships do open for longer, or have different intakes, so keep yourself informed!
For most scholarships, applications can be submitted using an online form provided by BrightSparks. However, other scholarship providers may require you to submit your applications via their websites.
Although much of the form-filling is merely entering of data, you will also most likely be asked to introduce yourself, your interests, and your ambitions through essays and personal statements. Remember to start on these early, to ensure you have sufficient time to craft a good statement AND proofread it!
Step 5: Tackle the selection process
If you have been shortlisted for the scholarship, you will be asked to undergo a selection process comprising interviews and other forms of assessment.
There are usually at least two rounds of interviews – one with human resource personnel, and the other with the company’s senior management. You can improve your performance at these interviews by reading up on the company, the issues affecting its industry, and expressing a sincere interest in the company’s business. Interview skills can also be learnt and honed through role-play and practice.
Remember to be yourself, and remain sincere and focused. Most companies don’t want a robot that only says the perfect things, they’re looking for someone with ideas that will fit with their organisation.
Other kinds of assessments can take the form of personality profiling tests, situational tests and reasoning tests. It is possible to prepare for the latter two by finding out their exact nature from previous applicants, so you can have a gauge of what to expect.
Step 6: Respond to the offer or rejection
Did you get your offer? If so, congratulations! Do take time to get to know the people in the organisation better, as this will ease your transition from university to working life.
But if you have been rejected, don’t be too down. Other opportunities lie in wait, and the scholarship application process has at least helped you grow in self-awareness and emerge a stronger person.
Prepare for your scholarship application now!