Here's a handy cheat sheet to help you with your prestigious scholarship application.
Want to get going on your scholarship application? Here's a handy cheat sheet with tips and recommendations to help you along your way.
- Get a head start!
Research scholarships for which you may be eligible and familiarise yourself with their criteria and application deadlines. Start preparing for your application well in advance.
- Don’t rush your application
Set aside adequate time to work on your application and collate the necessary documentation.
- Be organised
Make a list of supporting documents required for your application. Ensure that you have provided the required supplemental materials, but no extra.
- Do your research
Check the objectives of the scholarship for which your applying and ensure that you address these where appropriate throughout your application.
- Be clear on your intentions
If applying for the Rhodes Scholarship for example, study Oxford University’s course offerings to determine the degree for which you wish to apply.
- Check the criteria
There is little point in preparing an application only to find that you are not eligible to apply. Research the scholarship information, selection criteria and application criteria.
- Expand your horizons
Get involved in extra-curricular activities. Volunteering, sports and clubs are as likely to be important to a good application as good academic grades.
- Seek guidance
Ask questions and find a mentor to help you navigate the process.
- Keep track of deadlines
Diarise important dates.
- Follow application directions
Check and double check that you have done so.
- Check and double check, then check your application again
Ask an advisor, professor or a trusted friend to read and give you feedback. A simple typo or badly phrased paragraph can have significant impact.
- Answer each question that is posed
- Focus on your opening paragraph
This is the reader’s first impression of you and your opportunity to capture their attention.
- Sell yourself throughout your application
Is the information you are providing relevant? Have you excluded anything significant from your application?
- Be honest
Be yourself and answer questions honestly.
- Don’t repeat yourself
If you have stated attributes and listed examples in answer to a question, do not repeat the same for a later question.
- Don’t forget aesthetics
Have you used a clear and readable typeface and font size? Have you left adequate spacing and are your margins aligned?
Things to avoid
- Leaving things to the last minute
- Missing application deadlines
- Not following application directions and guidelines
- Forgetting to proofread and spellcheck
- Poor writing
- Failing to include necessary supporting documentation
- Failing to answer the question asked
Tips on personal statements/statements of purpose
- This is your opportunity to tell your story and to sell yourself. Have you conveyed the things that are important to you and the impact you hope to make on the world? Have you demonstrated clear, succinct writing? Does your personality shine through? Does your statement provide the reader with insight into who you are?
- Have you addressed the scholarship’s objectives and why you are the best candidate to fulfil these?
- Make sure you address EACH topic necessary for your scholarship application. For example if you are identifying your goals explain your reasons for pursuing them and how you plan to achieve them.
- Include concrete examples to demonstrate your attributes.
- Find what sets you apart from the rest and utilise this angle throughout your application.
- Be aware of your tone and how you are portraying yourself.
Tips on letters of recommendation
- Select people you know well and who can attest to your positive attributes with concrete examples.
- Provide them with plenty of notice and send a timely reminder prior to your deadline.
- Be clear in your request – provide them information on the reason for your request and the skills/ attributes they are attesting to.
- Be gracious and courteous.
- Maintain contact with your referees. Update them on the process and your progress as you may need them in the future.
- Remember to thank them.
Tips on the interview
- Be prepared for an in-person interview.
- Research types of questions and practise your answers to them. Practise out loud and check you are answering questions whilst providing maximum information. Avoid saying ‘um’ or fidgeting. Maintain eye contact with the panel of interviewers. Don’t rush and speak clearly. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification.
- Check the interests/backgrounds of the interviewers.
- Check the logistics: have you selected and prepared the right outfit, have you checked how will you get there (such as public transport, parking etc).