For students who find themselves on a tight budget, scholarships are a godsend. With the number of scholarships available far exceeding the number of students hoping for one, this makes securing a grant highly competitive.
So you’re going to have to put in the work first. To raise your chances of being awarded a scholarship, here are some common mistakes to avoid:
1) Not doing your research
Many students aren’t aware of just how many scholarships are actually available out there. Which is why you need to keep tabs on scholarship-focused websites, searchable databases, and social media. Most large companies also offer scholarships to underprivileged students, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. The same goes for your university and department, as well as professional organizations. Reaching out to education advisors is also a good idea, as they’ll usually have current information on scholarships. In the end, you should have several scholarship opportunities that you stand a good chance of getting.
2) Falling for fake scholarship scams
Every year, thousands of people fall victim to fraudsters offering non-existent scholarships. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of tell-tale signs, such as a ‘guaranteed’ scholarship, requests for your credit card or banking details, requiring you to pay an application fee, or getting an offer without ever even applying for that particular scholarship. If a scholarship offer looks questionable, do a bit of nosing around first before committing to anything.
3) Overlooking the fine print
Many scholarships have specific criteria for prospective applicants, from what course you’ll be studying to what country you’re from. Making sure you fit the bill for the scholarship is vital so that you don’t waste any valuable time and effort. So be sure to check that you’re eligible to apply.
You should also take note of other requirements, such as whether you’ll need to include any supporting documents, and most of all: the submission deadline!
4) Not filling out the application yourself
When applying for multiple scholarships, we understand if you’re tempted to get some outside help to fill in the form (e.g. parents), as it can get a bit tedious. However, we wouldn’t recommend it. Now that you’re going off to university, you should be able to fill in your own forms. We know you can do it! Besides, some scholarship programs may call you in for an interview if you’re shortlisted, and if you’re not sure about the contents of your application, then you can bet that your interviewer(s) will notice.
5) Reusing essays
Recycling is a good practice, but perhaps not for scholarship applications. Judges can tell apart an essay which was specially-written from a one-size-fits-all essay.
Read up on the organization that’s giving out the scholarship, as well as what they hope to achieve with it, so that you can tailor your essay towards what they’re looking for in an ideal applicant, and make sure you write your essay in a way that will convince them that you’re the most deserving of the award.
Be sure to let your personality and goals shine – use clear, concise examples and don’t get caught up in using big words and jargon.
6) Not double-checking your application before submission
One of the biggest no-no’s is to send in an application riddled with grammatical mistakes and typos. To judges, it’ll look like you didn’t put in any effort and don’t really care whether or not you get the scholarship (which makes you less likely to get it). Check all your details and make sure they’re correct, such as your address and contact details.
Also, when it comes to including your email address, don’t use any weird ones – because trust us, firstname.lastname@example.org will definitely raise eyebrows.
Make sure you have included everything that’s required in the submission, including any documents or essays, because once you submit it, there are no do-overs.
7) Assuming that your social media accounts won’t be checked
If you’re in the running for a scholarship, more often than not, they’ll run a quick check on Google and popular social media platforms. So you may want to delete any posts that could come off as offensive or distasteful just to be safe, or at least make sure that any questionable content isn’t open to the public eye.
8) Working on your application last-minute
We know it’s hard, but don’t let the Procrastination Bug get the better of you. Give yourself plenty of time to work on your application to ensure everything is in order, as it may require things like recommendations and transcripts, which will likely take some time to obtain. Don’t forget to allow those writing your recommendations enough time to write you a good one.
Include a safe amount of time between sending off your submission and the deadline, so that judges will have a good impression of you.
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