Scholarship ApplicationA scholarship is a grant or payment made to support a student's education, awarded on the basis of academic or other achievement. Searching for a suitable scholarship can be a daunting task usually leaving many students discourage to follow through. In this post, I have provided useful guidelines to make your searching process a lot easier and to help you increase your chances of success. I have studied the process for about six years now, so I have some good understanding on how things work and I am thrilled to share that with you here.

NB: There is scholarship for just every type of student seeking a college/university education. Therefore, avoid the common misconception that scholarships are for the smartest students with the highest GPAs. I found this article useful in distinguishing the different types of scholarships available for students: Types Of Scholarships

In order to win a scholarship, you must first search and apply for a suitable scholarship. So, how can you do that?

1. Search for suitable scholarships

It is not every scholarship that you are eligible to apply for but rest assure that there is one out they for you and you need to dig it out. Searching on Google helps, but the fact that you get millions of results can be discouraging. A website that has been designed to facilitate the searching process is www.internationalstudent.com/scholarships. I have actually used it and found it useful. They you are required to select a program that you intend to study, where you are studying and where you are from, and relevant results will be returned to you from the search. Another way would be to go to the University website where you intend to study and search for available scholarships they. Lastly, you can check for scholarships offered locally in your country. You can do that by visiting the Ministry of Higher Education website or some government website for this purpose.

2. Create a scholarship tracking sheet

A scholarship is very competitive. Therefore, is not enough to apply for just one. You may think you have good results but there are hundreds or even thousands of students around the world with similar results like yours. I remember a scholarship that I apply for some time back. We were around 10, 000 applicants and only 500 was selected. In another scholarship, we were around 4,260 applicants and only 5 was selected. The more the pay out for a particular scholarship, the more competitive it becomes. Therefore, in your searching process, find about 5 scholarships or more and organize them in a tracking sheet as shown below.

Table 1. Scholarship Tracking Sheet
Scholarship Name DivoStar 1 DivoStar 2 DivoStar 3 DivoStar 4 DivoStar 5
URL divostar.com/index.php/scholarships        
Dead line 6th July 2015        
Amount Full Tuition Waiver        
Eligibility Requirements
  • You must hold a bachelor's degree with a first class honor or a second class honor upper division.
  • You must not be more than 36 years old prior to application.
       
Required Documents CV, Recommendation Letter, Academic    
Transcript, Motivation Letter
       

Note that you can win multiple scholarships for your college/university education. I read about a guy who won two scholarships, one covered his tuition and another covered his accommodation. Thus, applying for multiple scholarships does not only increase your overall chances for success but you equally have the possibility to win all. It is important that you invest enough time on each of the scholarships that you choose to apply for and not just throw applications around and see what happens. In order words, target your scholarships appropriately and provide outstanding documentations for each.

3. Write an effective resume / CV

If the scholarship require that you submit a CV, then it is important to submit an excellent CV. In fact, all your documentations should make you standout. If you have difficulties writing an excellent CV, then check out my post on Effective Resume Writing. For scholarships, your resume or CV should include such items as extracurricular activities while in college; honors, prizes, scholarships; offices held; athletic record; community service; etc. The activities list provides you the opportunity to enumerate accomplishments which may or may not be described more fully in your essay. Don't exaggerate or lie about your involvement/accomplishments as it may come back to haunt you during an interview.

4. Write an outstanding essay

Most scholarships will usually ask you to write an essay on a set of topics. It is important to write a killer essay. I mean the kind of essay that distinguish you from the competition. Other scholarships may ask you to write a motivation letter or a statement of purpose. Here is a general guideline to follow in your attempt to write these essays:

  • Read the essay question very carefully and make sure not to go off topic
  • Maintain some sort of theme or connecting concept throughout. That is, they should be some logical connection between your paragraphs.
  • Present your ideas in a way that encourages the questions you can best answer
  • Don’t use slang, abbreviations, or casual tones
  • Some issues that can be addressed in the essays include: an issue or cause about which you feel strongly or has helped make you who you are, or an achievement or contribution that you feel tells the reader something significant about you.
  • Be prepared to edit, revise, listen, change and re-write. Make sure your grammar is excellent and your essay is free from typos. If you are not a native English speaker, you can get one to proofread your essay. In the end, however, it is your essay and yours alone so you need to be comfortable with what it says about you.
  • Avoid plagiarism. Do not copy similar essays out they and submit. Let your essay be unique from other essays out they. Avoid clichés and use your own words. Plagiarism is pretty easy to check these days.
  • Do not exceed the required word count.
  • Avoid listing your resume in paragraph form.

The essay is where I will recommend you spent the most time. Therefore, it is important to start the writing process early. Also, do not submit identical essays for two different scholarships. Usually, essay topics may even be completely different across the different awards.

Common scholarship essay questions

  • Pick an experience from your own life and explain how it has influenced your development.
  • Who in your life has been your biggest influence and why?
  • How has your family background affected the way you see the world?
  • How has your education contributed to who you are today?
  • From a financial standpoint, what impact would this scholarship have on your education?
  • State any special personal or family circumstances affecting your need for financial assistance.
  • Choose a person or persons you admire and explain why.
  • Describe how you have demonstrated leadership ability both in and out of school.
  • Why are you a good candidate to receive this award?
  • Discuss how your choice of program will contribute to the development of your home country or community.
  • Why did you choose your choice of program?
  • Why do you want to get a college education?

5. Ask for letters of recommendation

If the scholarship require that you submit recommendation letters, then follow the general guidelines below to get it done.

  • Choose people who know you well – both in and out of the classroom, and personally. Your academic supervisor can be a good example here.
  • Your Recommender should be able to comment on your ability to carry out the proposed course of study and the suitability of the university or program chosen.
  • Identify your recommender's and meet with them as early in the process as possible. Brief them on the overall timeline, expectations, and opportunities with regard to the scholarship(s). If your recommender are familiar with your plans and the application process, they will be more helpful to you when providing feedback and constructive criticism.

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Additional Resources

Below are links to some websites that may add additional knowledge

www.fastweb.com
A free resource where you'll find thousands of scholarships at your fingertip.

www.scholarships.com
Find free scholarship money and bring your college dreams to life. They you are required to create a free profile and they'll list scholarships that match your profile

African Scholarships
Has a plethora of scholarship listings for African students

Cameroon Scholarships
Has some well selected scholarships for Cameroonians and developing countries.

Scholarship Tips
Has additional tips that can help you with your scholarship application

Scholarship Web Sites
Provide a list of websites where you can search for scholarships.

There is a plethora of useful information out they on scholarships. In this post I have focused on what matters. I have learned from mistakes and speak from my own experience. Some scholarships may have requirements other than the ones listed here. Therefore, I suggest you read other blog post as well to meet your specific requirements. If you find this article useful, I encourage you to share it with your friends so that no one is left uninformed. You can easily do that by clicking on any of the social media links below. You are also welcome to leave comments, ask questions etc. Remember to check back here often for updates. Good luck in your scholarship hunting. Remember to stay determined until you to make it. Cheers.