How to Win a Scholarship

Scholarship Study

Sometimes, a bit of extra study assistance can go a long way. If you are interested in winning a scholarship, firstly see our regularly updated list, then here are our steps to help you out.

1. Do your research – prepare and apply early!

Research intensely! Some scholarships require application essays on research topics, whilst others require Academic Portfolios – focus on the criteria. The earlier you research, the earlier you’ll prepare, compile, submit – and the more organised you’ll appear!

2. Write to impress – tailor your application 

Research your audience – become aware of the goals, values and aspirations of the organisations, institutions or academics sponsoring this scholarship. How well do you match up? Scholarship providers will be wanting to know exactly if, and in what specific ways, you fit their criteria. Write with the judges in mind.

But think outside the box!

Research your competition – how do they write? How can you differ?

Remember, the committee will be reading countless applications from students just like you, studying similar degrees. Sure, you can meet expectations, but what about exceeding them? What factors make you more unique, driven or passionate about this specific scholarship over all the rest?

3. Engage in volunteer/extra-curricular activities

Why not volunteer,  join a local sports team or kickstart a university society?

Engaging in extra-curricular activities and/or community service is a fantastic way of gaining professional experience, enhancing your portfolio, demonstrating leadership/teamwork capabilities and standing out.

Plus, it’s a personally rewarding experience which benefits your community.

4. Assemble an academic portfolio

An Academic Portfolio is a collection of documents (electronic folders divided into sub-sections, curated websites, printed paper portfolios, etc.) showcasing your individual academic record – highlighting your achievements, research activities, volunteer work, professional developments and involvement in academic life.

In general, you should address:

Teaching and Learning Activities – include self-reflective statements on your teaching/learning philosophies, methods and goals, evidence of your educational development, peer evaluations from supervisors or mentors, etc.

Research Activities – include reflective statements demonstrating your areas of research interest,  your CV/resume, your research achievements (publication details, documentation of accredited research funds or awards you’ve received), etc.

Service Activities –  evidence of any extra-curricular, community service or other leadership/team experiences.

Academic Portfolios are highly individualised – the UTS website provides great examples of two differing Academic Portfolio setups. However, different scholarships may require different elements in your Academic Portfolio. Always tailor your portfolio to meet criteria.

5. Attach a Cover Letter

Cover letters should encourage readers to browse your application and/or Academic Portfolio. You should include:

Personal Details.
Use the format:
<Your First Name, Surname>
<Home Address>
<Phone Number>
<Email Address>

Open politely with a Personalised Greeting.
Don’t know specific names? Ask around, or politely address your letter to the organisation, institution or scholarship committee.

Explain – concisely – why you are right for the scholarship.
Sum up exactly how you fit the scholarship criteria, why you are chiefly interested in and applying for this specific scholarship, as well as what you feel you could personally – uniquely – offer as a scholarship recipient. Here, highlight your most relevant skills, qualifications and interests in answer to the scholarship criteria, evidencing specific examples.

In the Closing Paragraph, Reinforce your Interest
Show enthusiasm! End by (concisely) reiterating your interest in and motivations for the scholarship. Use confident phrasing in a humble manner (eg. ‘I believe’ over ‘I think’). Summing up, acknowledge judges by thanking them for their consideration.

Remember – check your Presentation and Formatting
Is your cover letter well spaced and easy to read? Whilst style guides vary, generally cover letters are expected not to exceed 1 page in length, written using a 10-12 size font. Opt for clear, commonly used fonts like Helvetica, Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri.

6. Proof-read Everything!

How’s your grammar, punctuation and spelling looking? Perfect, right?!

Are you sure?

Before sending off your application, ask a friend, classmate or family member to proofread your documents to catch any mistakes you might have missed.

7. If at first, you don’t succeed – apply, apply again!

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just miss out through no fault of your own.

The secret is: keep applying!

If you’re dedicated, thorough and passionate enough to keep trying, with persistence you’re highly likely to win yourself that scholarship.

Good luck!