Advice on how to fill in scholarship applications

If you’ve never applied for a scholarship before, it can be quite daunting when faced with the application form, knowing what to put. How do you answer the questions? What are they looking for?

To help you, we have put together our top tips on what to do and what not to do when applying for a scholarship.

1. Read the instructions – Might sound obvious, but just like exams, if you do not do what is being asked of you, you will be rejected. The terms and conditions of scholarships are always laid out clearly and they are there for a reason. If you are not eligible or do not follow the instructions you will not be considered, so take time to read through them before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!).

2. Make sure you are eligible – double check that you meet all of the criteria. Don’t waste your time applying if you don’t meet all the criteria. Or if you believe you have justification for applying without meeting them all, then call the scholarships administrators first and double check your particular circumstances. There is no point in wasting your time applying just to be rejected.

3. What are they looking for? – You can often get an idea of what the scholarship administrators are looking for if you read between the lines. It is not just about what they say in the terms and conditions or eligibility criteria. Look around a bit further. What is the organisation or company that is offering the scholarship about? Who are they? What are their aims and objectives? Why do you think they might offer a scholarship and can you get an idea of who their ideal scholar might be? Have they run the scholarship before? Can you find out who has won it before and what their situation/background/experience was that might have made them stand out.

4. Show how you meet their requirements – just as you might write an application for a job, address all the points that they require and show them how you meet those requirements. Don’t just say it; give examples, if you have space.

5. Be yourself – try and make your personality shine through. Remember the selection committee will be reading through hundreds of applications and if they are all written without feeling or passion and are formulaic, they will soon get bored of reading another one that doesn’t show any individuality. Show them who you are what motivates you.

6. Don’t make mistakes – yes we all make mistakes, it’s easily done, but do check your application for spelling and grammatical errors. It doesn’t take long to double check what you have written and shows a degree of laziness if there are still errors in it. Don’t rush your application. If you don’t have time, wait until another day, when you do. Most scholarships have at least a few weeks’ timeframe in which to apply.

7. Don’t miss the deadline – again, another obvious statement but you would be surprised how many people apply late and of course won’t be considered.

8. Don’t go for the sympathy vote – there are lots and lots of people who are financially disadvantaged or have other circumstances which make life hard for them and you will certainly not be the only one applying. Telling a sob story, when the trustees will be reading many, will not necessarily help. Of course you will need to tell the circumstances which make you eligible, but make it factual, not emotional and try to show what you are doing to overcome these difficulties and make life better. Demonstrate how winning the scholarship will make a difference to you and help you achieve this.

For a full copy of our "Step by step guide to finding scholarships" plus additional tools and resources, find out about our Membership Benefits.

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