1. Carefully follow the scholarship essay prompt
One of the most important things we will tell students when asked: How can I get a scholarship? is to look closely at a study abroad scholarship’s criteria and essay prompt. The criteria are not random and are designed to help the right student match up with the values we want to promote in the world.
Many of our applicants ignore the essay question and are immediately disqualified. Even though you might be an outstanding candidate in other areas, reading and following the essay prompt is necessary for success.
An additional point on our list of scholarship tips is to strategically reuse parts of your scholarship essays to save some time. However, be sure to customize the essay meaningfully to address the essay prompt.
2. Don’t be afraid to share how challenges have shaped you, but make sure that you don’t just list hardships
Having a passionate reason to pursue your studies abroad is fantastic and most appreciate that emotion can help drive you towards your goals.
It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes an essay focusing on the difficulties you’ve faced can overshadow what you’re being asked to write about. Again, one of the best ways to get a scholarship is to tailor your answers to the prompt.
For example, in our Study a Master’s in Europe scholarship we ask “Why did you choose your study abroad country, and how will it help you grow as a globally-minded leader?” Some of our most compelling finalists had faced personal hardship or witnessed terrible effects of issues facing their community, country, or the world. This lit a fire in them to choose a program and country where they could improve their knowledge and give back to the world. They discussed how they plan to act on challenges through the public, private or non-profit sectors.
When you focus on the passion that your life challenges have ignited in you, you will be able to show the scholarship-giver how you will positively influence the world.
3. A scholarship application is not a CV
When learning about how to get a scholarship, it is crucial to know the difference between a scholarship application and a CV or resume. Sadly, some students who our ideal candidate attributes of being “academic achievers” and “involved in extracurricular groups” used their application essay only to give a chronological history of their grades, volunteer work, and career history.
After reading their scholarship essays, we still had no idea of whether they were globally-minded or how their program and country of choice were going to make a difference. One of the best ways to get a scholarship is to weave your experience into a narrative that tells your application-reader who you are, not just what you’ve done.
4. Follow the submission instructions to make sure your scholarship application makes it through the first round
Another simple yet often-missed factor when students are learning how to get a scholarship is to follow all submission directions from the start. Using the correct file format, attaching the correct documents, and making sure that you’ve hit the correct word count are all important scholarship tips for ensuring that your scholarship application qualifies to be considered.
A few minutes of time can make sure that your application is not disqualified.
5. Mind the details for a professional-looking application
While many scholarship awarding committees will not disqualify you for a typo or misspelling (we do not include this in our rubric), it’s still a great idea to have a trusted friend, family member, classmate, or mentor read over your application to give you feedback.
We also recommend choosing an easily readable font if one is not specified, and not getting too creative with images unless they are permitted and speak to the message behind your application.
For example, including photos of your volunteer work, or a photo with you presenting an academic project could bring your essay to life.
6. Make your scholarship essay unique
Another tip to learn about how to get a scholarship is to be personal and transparent in your application. Academic scholarships are extremely competitive with many applicants offering a good reason to be chosen. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd!
For example, if you’re pursuing a Master’s to further your dream of helping Mexico preserve its native bee population, don’t be shy about telling how you got interested in the first place. Scholarship reviewers would love to hear more about how your passion began and has developed over the years, and sharing these kinds of details will help you stand out from the crowd.
Just in case we need to mention it, be sure that your application is honest and the words you use are your own. Most scholarship committees have access to anti-plagiarism software, and the references you provide as well as the follow-up interviews that you do are important to confirming your honesty. Being dishonest is an easy way to completely disqualify your application.
7. Don’t miss your deadline!
The most important bit of information on how to get a scholarship is to make sure that you apply on time! Scholarships are typically run on firm deadlines. You may not think about it, but the administrative procedures necessary to review thousands of applications, choose finalists and ultimately a winner will mean that an application cycle will be closely choreographed.
If you’re applying for multiple study abroad scholarships, It’s important to keep track and schedule of all of the scholarships you’ll apply for in order to complete and submit applications before the deadlines. Although some scholarship awarders might be flexible and accept applications a few hours or days after the deadline, others will not be.