Students who have been successful in their scholarship applications are the best people to ask for advice on how to write a winning scholarship application. We asked some of this year's QS Scholarship winners to share their top tips for finding and applying for scholarships in order to help others in the same situation. Here's what they had to say...
1. Submit your application as soon as possible.
This is one of those pieces of advice that you're probably tired of hearing by now, but our scholarship winners have stated that it was critical to their success in the program. "Schools have a specific amount of funding available, and the earlier you apply, the more you will receive and the easier it will be to get a scholarship," says Alexis Csizmazia, who was awarded one of this year's QS-IE University Scholarships. "The earlier you apply, the more you will receive and the easier it will be to get a scholarship," says Alexis Csizmazia.
2. Look for opportunities on the websites of universities.
In the event that you already know which universities you want to attend, visiting the websites of those institutions is a good place to begin your scholarship search. In the words of Doris Fang, winner of the 2015 QS Connect Masters 1-2-1 Scholarship, "I would recommend looking through the website of the university you intend to apply to." Typically, the university's website will provide a wealth of information on scholarships, financial aid, and other forms of financial assistance."
3. Look for additional scholarship opportunities.
Additionally, our scholarship winners emphasize the importance of looking outside of universities to find alternative scholarship providers, such as the QS Scholarships program. "Research is essential," says Thuy Phamova Thanh, who was awarded one of the QS-Manchester Business School Scholarships after submitting a competitive application. Speaking with people and researching funding opportunities through various resources, such as libraries, the internet or books, are both recommended.
4. Pay careful attention to the topic of the application essay.
Once you've identified relevant scholarships to apply for, the next step is to make sure that each scholarship application you write is well-targeted for the opportunity in question, as described in the following section. Salimatou Balde, another QS-IE University Scholarship recipient, advises applicants to "take the time to analyze the topic of their application essay." "Identify all of the key words, take the time to understand them, and make sure that your answer is strictly related to the question."
5. Have a second person read through your application.
In addition to assisting you in identifying typos or other errors, constructive feedback can also assist you in becoming more aware of your own relevant strengths and achievements, which can be extremely beneficial. "Having someone else look over my scholarship applications has always made them significantly better," says Stephen Jarvis, who was awarded the QS Academic Excellence Scholarship for the 2015 academic year. In addition to helping you tighten up the text and double-check your grammar, "if it's someone who understands where you're coming from, they can often think of things that you hadn't considered."
6. Maintain good time management.
When you're juggling multiple scholarship applications, time management skills are especially important to master. Plan ahead of time by creating a calendar with all of the deadlines and allowing yourself plenty of time to complete each application while making sure you submit all of the required documents. This year's scholarship winner Valentina Sandulova was working full-time while also pursuing her studies through the QS EDHEC-Business School Scholarship program. "Be patient, keep applying, and make sure you manage your time well so that you meet all of the deadlines," she advises applicants.
7. Apply, apply, and more applications!
Final words of wisdom from our scholarship winners: stop second-guessing yourself and get started on your scholarship application right away! According to Lee MacPherson, the recipient of the QS Leadership Scholarship, "I wasn't sure whether or not to apply for this and other scholarships at first because they are extremely competitive." The decision to make the effort, on the other hand, was one of the best decisions I've ever made."
Indeed, all of our scholarship winners have stated that they received a large number of rejection letters prior to being awarded a scholarship, demonstrating that it is critical – and worthwhile – to keep applying for scholarships. Nobody knows which scholarship application will be the one that is accepted for consideration. As a final note, Thuy emphasizes the importance of "never giving up on your dreams."
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