Picking a scholarship to apply for can be more difficult than expected. There are a huge number of scholarships available, with over 200 on the alone. Faced with such a huge number of options can be overwhelming and leave a student with ‘choice paralysis’, not knowing where to start.
Before we present some advice on how to go about choosing, a word of caution: Simply applying for anything and everything is definitely not advisable. Not only does it add even more tasks to your plate, you might end up stuck in an organisation you have no interest in.
A targeted approach, aiming for the scholarship that’s best for you, is the better approach. But how to choose which scholarship is "best for you"? These 4 questions will help refine your answer.
1. What are You Passionate About, and How Far Will You Go with It?
We say this a lot: sponsoring organisations are looking for individuals to grow with them, with the scholar’s and organisation’s goals in alignment. For you to stay with them, your passions have to align with the scholarship provider’s vision.
Also, most scholarships have a bond attached to the scholarship provider. When things get tough at work, it is your passion that will keep you going through the difficult times.
Definitely, there are going to be hard days at work when we question our choices and wonder if we could have done something different. However, passion is the ‘oil’ that keeps us going through such days.
2. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 to 7 Years?
You know you want to go far, but you need to think of your interests in specific, quantifiable terms. Are you willing to dedicate a long time to this particular career or area of interest? Can you see yourself doing this for years and years, even perhaps a lifetime?
A scholarship is a long-haul commitment, and your first few years in the workforce will be dedicated to a particular organisation. Serving your bond with your scholarship provider will provide you with a myriad of opportunities for growth that will set the tone for the rest of your working career. Some organisations also have particular tracks or paths they wish for their scholars, all the more reason to be sure before you commit yourself.
3. Is It Just For Money?
It is true that a university education is as expensive as it is desirable. So it is tempting to aim for a scholarship simply to reduce that financial burden, and accept any organisation that would take you.
But that is one of the biggest mistakes a scholarship applicant could make. If there is no passion and your ideals or vision do not align with the scholarship provider, you are setting yourself up for a rough ride ahead. As mentioned above, a scholarship is not a short-term stint but a long-term commitment.
4. Do You Know The Role of the Scholarship Provider?
Often, we think we know an organisation, only to find we’re barely scratching the surface of its huge portfolio. Organisations can be huge, with many different departments involved in all sorts of different work. Additionally, their day-to-day operations may be very different from the glossy, generalised website brief.
We recommend taking an internship with an organisation you’re really interested in to learn more about their work and whether it suits you. You could also speak to organisation representatives at events such as the BrightSparks Scholarships & Higher Education Fair to get a clearer picture, or participate in site visits and work tours.
A scholarship is much more than a way to pay for your university studies and (perhaps) a ticket to overseas travel. It is a commitment between the organisation and yourself, and will mould you during your most formative working years as you both work for your goals. Choose carefully, as you take your first step to your future!
School photo created by jcomp -