Acing your Scholarship Applications
Writing a Personal Statement
All applications have different requirements, but there is one component that is consistent; a personal statement. Personal statements are an essay that describes why you are deserving of the scholarship/award. It functions to help you stand out from other applicants in 4 key ways:
Describes who you are
Highlights your strengths & experiences
Expresses your goals
Illustrates your needs or meeting of criteria
Tips & Tricks for Answering Behavioural Questions
Behavioral questions are often put on applications to help the committee determine if you are a good fit for the scholarship. One example of a behavioral question is: Tell me about a time when you set a goal for yourself and how you achieved that goal? Here are some important things to remember when answering these types of questions.
Make yourself the focus of the scenario. If the question is about teamwork, it can be easy to focus on what the team did rather than what you did yourself. Really make an effort to outline your personal role!
Show your best side! If the question asks you to tell the reviewers about a situation where you didn’t show the best side of yourself, explain what you learned from the situation and how it helped you develop into who you are today.
Be clear and concise! It can be difficult for reviewers to see who you really are amidst grammatical errors. Having someone else read over your answer could help you catch any mistakes! See our interview skills workshop for some information on the STAR approach to answering questions!
Writing About Your Financial Situation
Some scholarships require you to meet financial criteria and might ask you to write about you and your family’s financial situation. Here are some tips!
Be honest. Do not fabricate details about your financial situation.
Be optimistic. Avoid self-pitying or negativity, and try to display resilience.
Be specific. Avoid broad, general statements that can apply to most people. Include relevant family circumstances and financial challenges. Include if you are an underrepresented or ethnic minority, or the first student attending post-secondary in your family.
Tips & Tricks for References
There are different types of references. Make sure you know what type reviewers are looking for (i.e. academic, personal, character, etc.)!
Not all references are good references. Choose people who know you well and can speak to who you are as a person and student.
Prepare your references. It’s important to give them a summary of your activities and an outline of what the scholarship reviewers are looking for. This allows them to tailor their letter specifically to you rather than submitting something that is generic.
Securing funding for post-secondary education is an important, but tedious task. We hope that today's blog post equips you with the knowledge and tools to search for and secure funding for your education. Remember that it takes time; so keep revising your personal statement, keep asking for help, and keep applying!