Rather than sitting around waiting for my parents to look after me, I decided to pick myself up and apply for scholarships. Not only does it allow me to help my parents take care of our financial needs, it also maintains my grip of motivation and the sense of moving towards a goal.
Now, these applications aren’t all easy work. Most of them consist of a range of components that one is required to include in one’s application. These few components determine how you stand out to those who select the winners of these scholarships.
Let’s see how you can stand out:
1) The Search – First of all, you have to find the scholarship that you want to apply for. There are a few websites, such as StudentAwards, where you can make an account and be introduced to the scholarships that your conditions allow. For example, if you’re a Grade 12 student like me, you would choose the scholarships that fund post-secondary education. There are also plenty of other types of scholarships, which support a certain project that you may be pursuing or are specified to a certain cultural background. It is up to you to explore them and see which ones are desirable to you. You can always find a bunch at your school, where your counselor post the designated information for students. Always keep yourself updated with the school bulletins and notices – it’s a goldmine.
2) The Essay – Most applications require you to write something about yourself. Some of the most common topics that I’ve run into include the most significant challenge that you’ve faced, a leadership role that you have taken on and your contributions to the community. When writing these essays, you should convey your engagement and passion towards what you’re writing about and why they matter to you, rather than what they are. To the people who select the scholars, it is not what you have accomplished that matters; instead, they look at how these experiences have influenced you and the community and how you have learnt from them. Meanwhile, check the word limit and formatting instructions, since some of them can be very specific.
3) The Reference Letter – Many scholarship applications ask for one or two scholarships, one from a teacher and another from someone that knows you through your involvement in the school or community. When selecting the person that you want the reference letter from, you should consider your relationship with the person and how you are reflected in his or her eyes. Of course, you want to appear as best as you can in the refence letter. Also keep in mind that the reference letter should be relevant to the subject of the scholarship that you’re applying for. For example, a science scholarship program will not value a reference letter from your French teacher. Remember that writing a reference letter is a favour! Always be appreciative of those who are willing to help you out, and notify them in advance, with at least two weeks prior to the deadline.
4) The Transcript – A vast number of people have the misconception that only those with a high academic average have the possibility of winning scholarships. This is untrue. Many scholarships simply require a passing grade, and some don’t even take marks into account. But the ones that do will ask you for a transcript of your marks from recent and previous years. You’ll have to order a transcript from your school office, and it’ll require a small fee along with a waiting time of maximum a week, which means you should order one well in advance!
5) The Interview - Some scholarships have several stages in selecting their scholars, and the interview is one of the latter parts in the process. If you have been selected for an interview – congratulations! It is a sign that you have made it so far. Preparing for the interview isn’t too different from any other interview. Dress appropriately, with perhaps something to stand out from the crowd (but don’t cross the line). Arrive at the interview 10 – 15 minutes in advance. Prepare some basic points that you can discuss during the interview. Above all, be yourself!
6) Deadlines & Follow-up - There is no point in pouring in all this time and effort towards an application if you don’t hand it in on time! You should be aware of not only the date of the deadline but its time as well. However, it’s best if you submit your application in advance. Some are completed online while some need to be mailed off, which is definitely a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. If you miss the deadline, though, don’t lose hope! Contact them ASAP and let them know that your application is on its way. Surprisingly, many of them will still accept your application. Just as important as the deadline is your follow-up of the application. Regularly check your e-mail and the website – you don’t want to miss any updates, whether they are good news or bad news!
Good luck, everyone!
Photo fromÂ www.alertmagazine.org