Sometimes applying for scholarships might seem a bit abstract. The details are somehow scattered and even unclear; the requirements are very specific or very hard; you don’t know to whom to turn for questions and clarifications; you are not sure if your are eligible or not; and on top of that, there are scholarships that are SCAM's and might trick you.
So What to do in this Sea of uncertainty?
Well, in its core, the scholarship application process is a system, and like every other system it has its own definable building blocks. Once you are aware of what to look for and how to sift out the information, applying for a scholarship will turn into an interesting journey. A journey that is not only for the right scholarship, but also a journey to self-discovery.
The application process offers a chance for self-observation. You will reflect on your personal achievements, skills, knowledge and qualities. You will ponder on the things that shaped you as the person you are today, which in turn will give you a bit more clarity on the type of scholarship you are looking for. No matter what financial aid you are looking for, know that we live in a vast world of opportunities and there is something for everybody.
That being said, lets discuss some of the building blocks I’ve mentioned earlier.
1. Know your profile
Remember that your profile represents YOU. The key is being organized. You will need to build a strong foundation by including your achievements, awards and relevant social interactions. This will also help you to define your eligibility, once you find an attractive scholarship.
If you have difficulties expressing yourself or you don’t know what to include, try to imagine yourself as the one who is looking for candidates. Think what you might search for in a candidate and what might be relevant.
Recording yourself or speaking about your accomplishments in front of a mirror also might help. This is due to the fact that most people could think and speak faster than they could write or type.
You could use sticky notes or other forms of short outlines in order to better organize your thoughts. It is also a good idea to Google your name and see if there are any relevant results. Check your social platforms for content that might discriminate you. In the end, proofread your information for spelling and grammar errors.
2. The Search for scholarships
Here you could really expand and look for opportunities virtually anywhere: your university; your professors (it’s a good chance that they’ve already experienced what you are going through, so they will have some inside information); cultural and social events; orientation centers etc. Information is all around us. Here, the World Wide Web comes in very handy. Free and exclusive scholarship matching sites like WeMakeScholars.com offer great tools that will precise your search and expand it to a global scale.
- Based on your profile and with the help of filters, such as
- Level of study
- Countries to look into and
- Fields that you are interested in,
The site could refine the information and offer you more condense results, which will be closer to your preferences.
3. Properly check the eligibility criteria
Even if this sounds obvious, there are still some points to consider. One of the most important steps is to read the requirements, instructions and eligibility criteria very carefully. It goes without saying that you won’t be eligible for all of the scholarships so by doing a research you will be able to determine the most appropriate choices for you and concentrate your efforts on them.
4. Points to remember when applying
You’ve picked a scholarship and now you want to apply. Of course you need to present yourself in the best way possible. So what do you do? Here are some important points to consider:
The first thing to do is to answer a couple of WHAT's and WHY's:
- Why do you want to apply for this particular scholarship? (Try to avoid the trivial answers like paying for your tuition, avoiding debt etc.)
- What will it give you and how will it contribute to your future?
- Why do you think it suits you?
- Why you should win this scholarship and why would you get picked?
Once you clear out these details, you could proceed to the next stage and try viewing your application more objectively and from the sponsor’s perspective. Reading the available information will help you understand the sponsor’s goals and motivation in giving these funds: are they promoting awareness about their field? Are they trying to expand the knowledge in certain area? Do they want to invest in promising future researchers and leaders?
By identifying their goals, you could tailor your application towards satisfying them. That way you will increase your chances of winning the award.
The 3rd stage is your personal contribution. Your uniqueness is your best weapon; do not pass "one-size-fits-all" information. Talk with passion. Talk about your impact on other people and how do you stand from the rest. Talk about your social contributions if any. Give examples and be specific.
See More: We Make Scholars happen!
5. Ask questions
You should be guided by the thought “it doesn’t hurt to ask” You went through all of the information, but you still have some things that you want to clarify. If you have queries – refer them to the official providers of the scholarship. That way you will show special interest and proactivity. You might even receive additional information, which is not present in the scholarship body.
You could search for relevant contacts in the application form or try searching on the site of the institution offering the award. Here WeMakeScholars.com provides a useful feature. Under the page of each scholarship there is an “Email to official” button that will allow you to contact a responsible person without the need to search for additional contacts.
I know that all of this might seem hard to comprehend and even a bit scary. But, as we all know, practice makes a man perfect. Train your mind, apply often and don’t wait for the deadlines. And one more thing: Despite how weird or chaotic your experience might be, or how you might think that your achievements are irrelevant, know this - it’s very likely that there is scholarship out there, which is suited exactly for you!