Make Your Scholarship Application Standout

Richard Palmer: Strategies on how to make your scholarship application stand out from a multi-million dollar scholarship winner, Prime Minister Youth Awardee.
Strategies on how to make your scholarship application stand out from a multi-million dollar scholarship winner, Prime Minister Youth Awardee.

As a recent graduate who has accessed over 2.5 million in Scholarship and Grant funding on my quest to tertiary education, I felt it was my moral responsibility to pay in forward in offering tips on how persons in pursuit of tertiary education funding may fortify their scholarship application to access well needed funds.

Having submitted a plethora of successful and unsuccessful standout scholarship applications, I believe I have gathered insights on what works and what does not work when applying for a scholarship. Also, having completed a 6 months internship working with and helping to review over 530 applications for a suite of scholarships (totaling almost 11 Million JMD) for which I was a two-time recipient. These may be considered ‘insider-tips” having seen the strengths and weaknesses across various types of applications.

Deciding to apply for a scholarship or grant means you are consciously or even unconsciously entering yourself into a competition. Given the nature of the award and consequent value, the competition might vary in regards to the requirements, assessment and consequent awarding. For whichever application, however, the following tips should help to make your application a stand-out amidst the competitive applications submitted.


Presentation of Your Standout Scholarship Application

How you present an application to a scholarship sponsor is of crucial importance. While this may not have direct implications on the outcome, it sets the precedence and is equally a representation of yourself and probably the institution from which you are applying.

The onus is therefore on you to ensure that how you package, write, compile and send your application is of the highest standard, representing how you should want to be viewed. (An organized, detailed, punctual and meticulous applicant who has put time and effort into drafting a cogent application).

Recommendation

If this are a requirement for a scholarship application, it is pivotal to ensure that the person(s) you obtain your recommendation(s) from are at minimum au fait (familiar) with you as an individual ;your character, your academic prowess, financial need (if the scholarship is geared predominantly at need), work ethics, involvement in community and or extra-curricular activities.

You want to ensure that, that said person is able to convince a panel of adjudicator as to why you are the best fit for the scholarship, sighting and using concrete information as oppose to mild generalization. Having strong references will not only distinguish you as a competitor, but will help to provide additional insights as to the person behind the application and help sponsors ratify their decision as to who they want to invest in. A vague recommendation therefore does you no justice in this regard.

It is also incumbent on you the scholarship applicant to ensure that the recommender has pertinent information that can help him or her to coin an ardent letter of recommendation. Examples include: financial need (especially where the scholarship/ grant is geared at financial need), involvement, latest achievements. Information that could set you apart from the competition.


Curriculum Vitae for Your Scholarship Application

If this is a requirement for a standout scholarship application you are applying for, you should ensure you prepare a CV that is geared towards landing a scholarship and not a job. Remove the high emphasis on aspects that would be more suitable for landing a job (example: career objective / professional philosophy).

Your CV should be geared at expanding information you may have included succinctly throughout the scholarship application. On this Scholarship CV ensure you place emphasis on: Academic Achievement, Involvement in Community. Involvement in Extra-Curricular activities, Personal Accomplishments, Qualifications, Seminars/ Conferences attended, Courses completed (especially if these are related to your area of specialization).


If this is a requirement for a scholarship application you are applying for, you should ensure you prepare a CV that is geared towards landing a scholarship and not a job.

Richard R. Palmer

A CV on a standout scholarship application is not going to land you a job in this instance. It will not be kept on file for future vacancies nor will it be forwarded to recruiters. It therefore means you need to use this document as a key supplementary information appendix to galvanize interest in your application.

You do not want to take it for granted and submit a poorly articulated CV or one that does not serve the purpose of distinguishing you as a viable candidate for the financial support. Also, as with job CVs you do not want to make this CV too lengthy, thus prioritize the information, for example the most recent or the most impressive information to date.


ESSAYS

Penning an essay that is impressive, emotive and persuasive enough will require time, dedication and of course some structure. Set time aside to write your essay as these often times are used as an assessment, again, of who you are and how you express yourself. You do not want to come across as someone who is banal.

With some essays I have seen, most persons tend to think that since the topic is as ‘simple’ as “Tell us why you deserve this scholarship” they need to relegate themselves to their grave 4 literacy knowledge. If you are enrolled or seeking enrollment in a tertiary education institution, then it is expected of you to be able to convey ideas in a clear and structured way with respect to areas such as grammar, syntax, punctuation, use of complex vocabulary and even sentence structures.

You should always aim to make a lasting impression with your writing as this helps, again, to set you apart from the crowd. Try to use tertiary level language, complex sentence structures, even sources. Try to also convey your thoughts with depth and breath, while staying on the topic; being relevant and authentic.

Proof-read your writing or have someone give a second eye. We often read what we think we have written and thus might open ourselves up to ambiguity and unspotted errors in self-correcting. 

A strong written piece could for example be an indication that you would make a great interview candidate. It may mean that you could be asked to move the vote of thanks at an awards ceremony and generally is a clear indication that you are truly a candidate worthy of your inclusion in tertiary education.

Essays as part of the scholarship application process is usually a deterrent for most applicants so, as a rule of thumb, you may want to seriously ponder submitting these kinds, as often times the competition may prove to be less.


COVID-19 and Your Scholarship Application

Fortifying your standout scholarship application should always be of utmost importance (especially at this time). Given the growing economic downturns, in light of COVID19, it may mean more persons will be soliciting funding thus making applications even more competitive. You want to then:

  1. Keep deadlines in mind and apply in a timely manner
  2. Be on the look-out for opportunities located in your area, internally to your Institution and not only nationally and widely advertised grants and scholarships.
  3. Do not overestimate and apply for grants you are wildly under-qualified for. This can be an emotionally draining process, do not set up yourself for negative feedback.
  4. Make spontaneous applications to organizations you know that might be offering or are in a position to offer financial support. Check up on organizations you know to be sponsors , if you haven’t seen information about their grant for the ensuing academic year.
  5. Ensure that you read applications thoroughly and complete the applications in full and in a detailed manner.

Written by Richard R. Palmer | Richard is a Prime Minister Youth Awardee 2017, Next Move Jamaica International, Inc. Awardee, and Many other Scholarships Awards, an Educator, and Freelance Writer. Contact Richard via email at richardpalmer@gmail.com or Instagram @richardpalmerjm


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How to Make a Standout Scholarship Application
Article Name
How to Make a Standout Scholarship Application
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Learn how to make your scholarship application stand out from the rest from a multi-million dollar scholarship winner and Prime Minister Youth Awardee and educator. This is a moral responsibility to pay it forward in offering tips on how persons in pursuit of tertiary education funding may fortify their scholarship application to access well needed funds.