With more than 1.7 million private scholarships and fellowships, coming at a total value of more than $7.4 billion, there are more than enough scholarships to go around. But that being said, sometimes, applying for scholarships can be a bit confusing and cumbersome. The details of scholarships are, more often than not, ambiguous and scattered, making it difficult for students to apply. Students are filled with doubts like – How do I manage my time when applying to dozens of scholarships? How do I distinguish myself from thousands of other applicants? Where do scholarships fit within my broader financial aid plan, anyway? This Ultimate Guide On Applying For Scholarships will quell all your doubts about applying for scholarships!
Why Do Scholarships Matter?
Scholarships are like “gift aid”, which means they do not have to be repaid. This makes scholarships a very attractive form of student finance when compared to other alternatives like student loans.
Sure, there’s always fierce competition when free money is involved, which is why some students are discouraged from applying for scholarships. Also, the whole scholarship search and application process can be quite tedious. UniScholars, an online scholarship marketplace, makes identifying and applying for scholarships much easier!
With the cost of undergraduate tuition in the US costing almost $44,551/year, the need for scholarships has never been greater.
When Can You Start Applying For Scholarships?
The truth is that there isn’t a single deadline for applying for scholarships, as most scholarship programmes have their own deadlines. But these scholarship deadlines are lined up with university admissions decisions, leaving students with ample time to figure out how much financial support they will need to study abroad. Accordingly, students can start applying for scholarships.
While the current trend is that most scholarships have their deadlines by spring, there are some scholarships out there that have their deadlines in the fall, winter and even summer. Simply put, you will stumble upon various scholarships opportunities, all throughout the year.
To answer the question – When Can You Start Applying For Scholarships? The answer is any time! Keep an eye out for eligibility requirements while applying for scholarships.
How To Apply For Scholarships?
There is a mind-boggling number of scholarships in the market right now, so sort for scholarships based on the country you are headed to, university and course. This can be done quickly and accurately on the UniScholarz website.
Thereafter, shortlist your preferred scholarships and check each individual scholarship for its unique requirements. If you were wondering, ‘What are the best scholarships to apply for?’, we’ve written an entire blog on that. You can find it here.
You will soon realise that there is a list of things you will need to start applying for scholarships. We’ve made your work easier by listing down everything you need to ensure this process goes smoothly.
- Basic personal information – Name, address, email address, telephone number, date of birth and so on.
- High school info – School name, address, year of graduation, school ID, GPA, class schedule, class rank (if applicable), honours courses, etc.
- High school transcript – An official copy sent by your school or guidance counsellor.
- Parent/guardian information – Names, places of employment, bank statements etc.
- Application essay or personal statement – Explaining why you are a good fit at the university.
- List of goals – A list of things that are important to you and what you hope to do in university and professionally.
- List of extracurricular activities – Including school clubs, musical groups, sports teams, volunteer experience, work experiences, etc. Also, make note of the hours spent on each activity and any leadership roles you’ve held.
- List of honours, awards, or other accomplishments – Scholarship providers are usually looking for official, demonstrable things, but a relevant accomplishment that’s important to you might also be applicable, even if you didn’t win an official award for it.
- Up-to-date résumé – Including any internships, part-time jobs, after-school activities, etc.
- Recommendation letter(s) – Get it from someone who can speak freely and confidently about you.
- College information – Schools you’re applying to or your final-choice college, intended major, etc.
- Financial information – Parent income (income tax return), Student Aid Report (SAR), the results of the FAFSA.
- Art portfolio (if applicable) – Examples of your best work.
In order to have the best chance of winning a scholarship, edit your applications thoroughly and maybe even have someone read them before sending them out. Since the standard is so high, every little detail of your application needs to be perfect. You want to ensure that you’ve answered all questions or essay prompts sensibly and accurately.
Pro Tip – You need to pay close attention to any forms you fill-up during your university admission process. This is because your university may use these forms to award you academic-based scholarships.
Whether you like it or not, writing essays is going to be a frequent activity while applying for scholarships (wow, maybe I should apply for scholarships!). The good news is that every essay you write gets an easier time and experience. It is okay to reuse at least some parts of your scholarship essays; however, you will need to tailor the essay and application to each scholarship you’re applying for.
While writing an essay your main motive should be to set yourself apart from other applicants. The key to a good essay is to be genuine, honest and reflective. Don’t try to downplay your accomplishments, but at the same time, you want to show some humility.
Beyond this, you’ll want to ensure the following –
Be Prompt In Your Answers
Your polished vocabulary won’t have any bearing if you fail to answer the given question. So make sure you read any scholarship essay prompts carefully and respond accordingly.
Connect With The Scholarship Organization
Every scholarship organization has its own set of mission, values, and goals. Get them familiarised and highlight them in your essay.
Essays give students an opportunity to convey their unique stories to the scholarship committee. After reviewing the essay prompt, think of anecdotes from your life that are both particularly meaningful to you and distinctive so your essay stands out from the crowd.
In conclusion, you will need to convince the scholarship committee that their scholarship money is being well spent. The best plan of action is to be genuine, perhaps even a little vulnerable – just take care to see that you do not let your essay stray into territory that might be perceived as overly dramatic or entitled.
Most scholarships do away with an interview process, as winners are primarily chosen based on academic performance, extracurricular activities, sports, or any other parameters. However, for high-value scholarships, this will be the last step for you while applying for scholarships.
Always remember that in a scholarship interview, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers, per se, but you want your answers to reflect positively and accurately on you. In preparation for the interview, think about your past achievements and future goals. Also, think about how your university experience is connected to you achieving those goals. Here are some frequently asked questions during scholarship interviews –
- Why do you deserve this scholarship?
- Who are your role models?
- Tell us about yourself.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
- What activities are you involved in and why?
- What are your academic and career goals?
- Describe a time you overcame an obstacle.
Make sure you dress appropriately to the interview (look up “business casual outfits” online), shake hands, maintain eye contact, speak clearly, try not to fidget, and send a thank-you note or email when you are done.
Our Top Tips On Applying For Scholarships
Follow these simple tips, tricks, and secrets while applying for scholarships to study abroad.
Constantly keep an eye on the scholarship deadlines, as a missed deadline is a missed opportunity! Most scholarship providers are very strict with their deadlines, so do not expect any leeway in this regard.
Answer All Questions
In order to improve your chances of bagging a scholarship, make sure you answer all the questions on your applications, including the optional ones. These questions could be tied to awarding of scholarships, so don’t risk not answering them.
Stay Calm And Organised
Maintain a spreadsheets, keep your calendar nearby and stay on top of your deadlines.
Read The Directions Carefully
There’s nothing worse than ignoring directions and doing your own thing. You might think that adding “extra” credentials in your application would help you but this just shows that you don’t pay attention, or that, you don’t care.
Keep Proofreading Your Application
Pesky grammatical errors are not always found on the first proofreading session. Keep rereading your application to make sure your application is error-free. Also, ensure that you have answered all questions fully and thoughtfully.
Have A Respectable Online Presence
Since scholarship providers are going to have their names attached to you (if you win), they’re going to do a comprehensive check on your background. So before applying for scholarships, do an online search for yourself and ensure nothing untoward shows up.
Have A Professional Email ID
Though this is a small thing, it can help your scholarship application go a long way.
Be Respectful And Patient While Communicating With Scholarship Providers
Whether you are sending an email or having in-person interactions, it is essential that you remain professional, polite and respectful.
Make Sure Recommendations Come From People You Know Well
There’s no point asking an unknown person for a letter of recommendation, just because you think it will impress the scholarship committee. Get recommendations from people who you know well and will be able to speak freely and honestly about your character and abilities.
Do Not Apply For Scholarships You Are Ineligible For
You might think that your dazzling application will wow the scholarship committee, despite your apparent ineligibility. This is almost never the case. Most experts say this is a waste of time because the competition is just too tight.
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