Getting a great scholarship can make a big difference in your life after graduation. It pays to prepare your application ahead of time and pay close attention to detail every step of the way. Keep these tips in mind as you start the application process.
Show you’re the right fit
Do a little research on the scholarship provider to get an advantage on your application. Find out what type of person they’re looking for and play on your strengths to show them that you’re the perfect candidate. Reinforce why your skills and life experiences make you the perfect recipient of the scholarship. And while you’re at it, check out the profiles of past recipients on the scholarship provider’s website and glean key insights from their past application experiences. It can give you an idea of exactly what the provider is looking for.
Always apply early
Starting early takes the stress out of the application process and ensures you won’t miss any deadlines. Many scholarships have one deadline per year. If you miss it, chances are you’ll have to wait a full 12 months! Plus, you’ll give the scholarship providers more time to follow up with you should the need arise.
Beware of scams
You shouldn’t have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If an organisation asks for a fee or credit card number, do not respond. It could be a scam. And if you’re asked to provide personal information like your bank account number after being awarded a scholarship, make an effort to verify its legitimacy.
Plan ahead to allocate sufficient time for filling out applications, writing essays and collecting resources such as transcripts and letters of recommendation. Be aware of your deadlines: Put them in your phone calendar or set reminders. Target to complete everything a week before the due date.
Get that letter
A letter of recommendation informs the scholarship provider who you are beyond your report card and why you would be a great fit for the scholarship. You can request the letter from teachers and professors; former or current employers; coaches; school counsellors and advisers; or leaders of an organisation you are associated with. Make sure to notify them at least four weeks before the scholarship deadline.
Do your checks
Spelling mistakes, incomplete sections or factually incorrect information are big no-nos. Get someone trustworthy to help check your application and offer constructive feedback or even a refreshing point of view. Be sure to follow any instructions that are given.
Social media reputation
Don’t dismiss the likelihood that scholarship providers may well do a fast search on you online. Comb through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media profiles, delete any unflattering posts and replace them with content that shows you in a positive light.
Ace your interview
Be punctual, dress appropriately and mind your body language – sit up straight, make eye contact, speak in a positive tone of voice, smile and exude confidence. Ask the right questions including what the organisation stands for, the selection process, academic benefits and future opportunities.
Express your gratitude
Don’t forget to send a thank you note after clinching the scholarship. Showing your appreciation is a common courtesy. More importantly, it is a personal way of telling the scholarship provider how the scholarship is making a difference in your life.