Tips for a Great Scholarship Application
Scholarships are a fantastic resource when it comes to funding your post-secondary education. To land a great scholarship, though, you have to write a great application, which is easier said than done. If you want to come across as a stellar candidate in front of the board reviewing your application, it’s going to take some work.
Keep the following tips in mind when you’re trying to make your scholarship application stand out.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but get to know the criteria for the application you are submitting. Are there key words or themes in the description? These are probably the things you should be focusing on when you highlight your qualifications or your ambitions for the future. For example, a scholarship given by a particular charity is likely linked to the values that the charity itself represents.
Based on this, identify (and highlight) your strengths. This doesn’t mean list everything on your resume—instead, focus on the most relevant experience, qualifications, and aspirations or goals that you have, and link these back to the purpose of the scholarship itself. You should aim to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for this particular prize, and give strong and specific reasons to support this.
When composing your application, it helps to focus on the bigger picture instead of only on the money you are trying to earn. How will the scholarship improve your post-secondary experience? How will you be able to make a difference at the institution you are applying to? Use your qualifications as a stepping stone for your future achievements, demonstrating that you have a lot to offer the institution if you are granted the award.
Be creative. Of course, you should work within the restrictions of the application, but as long as you meet the basic requirements, feel free to jazz it up a little bit. Use an anecdote from your personal life, change up the format from the typical “5-paragraph essay”, or come up with another idea that will make your application unique. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your personality, and scholarship judges love seeing an application that goes beyond the cookie-cutter template.
And finally—be yourself. Don’t falsify any information or over-exaggerate any of your experiences. (This is especially awkward if you make it to the scholarship interview stage and the board is extremely interested to know how you, according to your application, saved a whole village of orphans in Finland.) It’s important to be honest and genuine about what you have to offer. If you feel like lying is the only way you’re going to come across as qualified, maybe this particular scholarship isn’t right for you.