Scholarship applications can be daunting.

You open the application and see a long list of criteria. The deadline is fast approaching. It might be tempting to whip something together, use ChatGPT and…fingers crossed.

But that’s a surefire way to have your application skipped over.

Especially when there are sometimes hundreds of other applicants, you want to make sure you take the time and effort to put your best foot forward.  

Scholarships offer prestigious and life-changing opportunities

So, instead of going into panic mode - or procrastinating until it's too late - here are 10 scholarship application tips to help you stand out and make the process a little easier. ✍️ 

10 tips for applying for scholarships

1. Start early

You’ll want to start early - both on your scholarship application and the search process. 

There are so many scholarships out there you may have never even heard of. In fact, there’s over £20 million of additional funding available in the UK every year! 

So, start researching and gathering information about potential scholarships as early in the academic year as possible. Once you’ve found a scholarship you’re eligible for, give yourself plenty of time to review and edit your application. 

You can search for available scholarships on the Funding Hub.

2. Check the eligibility criteria

Before writing an application, carefully read and understand the eligibility criteria and ensure you meet all the requirements for each scholarship you're applying for. 

Pay attention to the details of each scholarship and only spend time applying for the ones you’re eligible for. 

No matter how good your application is, if you don't meet the key criteria for a particular scholarship, bursary or grant, you won’t be considered and - in many cases - your application won’t even be read. 😬

3. Pay attention to deadlines 

Missing the scholarship deadline will mean, well, missing your chance of getting the scholarship.

Some committees may be slightly flexible and still take your submission - but don’t bet on it. Check the deadline and pop the due date into your calendar so you don’t miss it! You can set reminders leading up to the due date as well. 

It's also worth setting your own 'internal' deadlines to account for anything that might delay the application process. For example, you may need to wait for references (if they’re needed). Or for someone to read over your application and give you enough time to make any changes before the official deadline.

4. Tailor your applications

Avoid using a one-size-fits-all approach for your scholarship applications. 
The scholarship application committee wants to know why you out of all the applicants should get this specific scholarship. Customise each application to highlight your unique strengths, experiences and achievements relevant to the specific scholarship criteria. 

If you’re applying for multiple scholarships, it can help to create a spreadsheet with the scholarship name, criteria, deadline and those particular details you want to include for each one.

5. Include personal story

A scholarship essay is a chance to showcase your personality, aspirations and accomplishments. Again, the scholarship committee will be reading so many applications - what can you write that will help yours stand out? 

Your personal story is your chance to communicate your ‘why’. 

Dig into your reasons for applying, what this scholarship would mean to you and how you’ll benefit from the money. 

This personal touch will set your application apart from the rest. 

6. Proofread & edit

Always proofread and edit your scholarship application. 

It’s important to give yourself time to edit your own work as well as get feedback from peers and mentors. Always give yourself a week or two away from your application before looking at it again with fresh eyes. 

Then, ask someone else to proofread and edit your application - whether that’s a lecturer, mentor or family and friends. They can provide valuable insights and help spot those errors you might’ve missed after reading over your application for the hundredth time. 

AI tools such as Chat GPT and Grammarly can be helpful for proofreading. But if you’re using AI, be sure to read our guide on using AI for scholarship applications.

7. Hype yourself up

Your application should highlight your best qualities. 🙌 

This is your chance to share the accomplishments and successes that make you a deserving candidate. 

Try to also highlight any leadership or volunteer experience you have. Scholarship committees often look for candidates who demonstrate leadership potential and who’ve committed to giving back to their communities.  

8. But also...be genuine and authentic

While you want to blow your own trumpet - you also want to give an accurate representation of yourself. 

Authenticity will resonate a lot with scholarship committees. Be genuine and let your passion and enthusiasm shine through in your personal story. Avoid exaggerations or embellishments - as the saying goes: honesty is the best policy. 🙏

9. Interview for scholarship tips

If your scholarship application includes an interview component, preparation is key.

Practise common interview questions, research the organisation offering the scholarship and find out about the person interviewing you, if you know who they are.

And be ready to articulate why you're the ideal candidate. This is the time to speak about your application and show your passion through your personality. 

10. Be resilient

Lastly, rejection is a natural part of the scholarship application process. Don't be discouraged by setbacks; instead, use them as learning opportunities to improve future applications. 

Applying for scholarships is a competitive and challenging process, but by following these scholarship tips you’ll increase your chances of success.

As mentioned, there are over £20 million worth of scholarships available in the UK. If you don’t get one, keep researching and applying. Hopefully these scholarship essay tips will help you get the financial support you need to be successful in your degree.

Discover scholarship opportunities on the Funding Hub and sign up for our scholarships newsletter.

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