With the escalating cost of higher education in addition to the rising cost of living, tertiary education may seem out of reach for you.
There is, however, an option to help you fund your university studies without accumulating any debt – scholarships. But with thousands of students competing for a handful of financial awards, how can you ensure your application gets through? Are there any secrets or techniques that can single you out from the numerous applicants?
Be at ease, for we had the honour of sitting down with a scholarship winner who was gracious enough to let us in on some valuable tips and advice. So hop on board and join us on this wisdom ride to scholarship success.
#1. Dive deep into research
Begin your scholarship hunt by going through all corners of the internet with a fine-tooth comb, as almost everything you need can be found online. Sift through the various scholarships offered in a systematic manner, giving ample thought on what kind of scholarship you want and which fits you best.
A word to the wise – you must be resourceful. Don’t expect to be spoon-fed with information by your parents, teachers and counsellors. Many scholarship winners have a proactive mindset and utilise whatever networks and resources they have to achieve their dreams and goals.
If you are not resourceful, you are unfortunately not scholarship material.
#2. Consider your future commitment
Be aware of any bonds that the scholarship might have. Know and understand the terms, for they may determine your future. Some may have several years of bond, while others may ask you to contribute for lesser amounts of time.
Ask yourself whether you want to be tied down in the same field. Can you see yourself continuing on the same path after you have graduated? Or do you consider the bond as job security?
Having a clear idea of what you want your future to look like will help you figure out if the scholarship is a right fit for you.
#3. Quality trumps quantity
If you think that applying for every scholarship offered out there will increase your chances of eventually landing one, you might want to hold your horses.
What this actually does is spread your effort and attention too thin. Odds are you will lose focus and possibly end up butchering a number of applications. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s all about quality versus quantity.
Instead of applying for every scholarship you find, aim to apply for two or three and exert extra effort on these. Give them your absolute focus, as there will be many tiny details and documents that require your meticulous attention.
If any essays are required, research thoroughly on the given topic and draft several pieces until you are truly satisfied. You want to write the best essay ever, as if your life depended on it (because it does).
#4. Ace your interview
Equip yourself with basic interview preparation tips. Search online for common interview questions and find out from seniors how their scholarship interviews were like. Again, be resourceful.
It is also important not to misrepresent yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not just to get your hands on that financial support. You’ll only end up trapping yourself as interviewers are trained to spot fraudsters a mile away.
Companies know what kind of scholars they are looking for and it’s okay if you’re not the right fit for them. What’s more important is for you to find something that you can honestly represent. Because when you’re on a scholarship, that’s what you do – you represent the organisation that backed you.
#5. Shine bright like a diamond
There will be thousands of aspiring applicants who are as academically outstanding as you are, if not more. So, how are you going to compete with them?
To avoid blending in with the crowd, you need to have an X-factor to stand out from the rest.
Figure out something special about yourself and really put it out there. What sets you apart? It could be that volunteering work you’ve been doing every weekend, your battle against poverty to attain education or a special talent that would benefit others.
Explore that X-factor and communicate your potential. Do as Rihanna sings it – shine bright like a diamond.
There you have it – some pearls of wisdom to bear in mind as you soldier through the process of hunting, applying and riding on a scholarship. You might not meet with success on your first try, but don’t throw in the towel and keep applying!