Am I able to apply for an academic scholarship?
This is the second of three chapters about Applying for Scholarships. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Review the concept of an academic scholarship
– Discuss the key questions that helps students decide whether to apply for scholarships or not
– Make a note of some useful scholarship websites
Finding out that scholarships exist is an exciting and tempting realisation for many students. The idea that part or all of your degree may be covered for free or that a one-off cash sum can be secured towards educational costs indeed sounds almost too good to be true. It is perhaps then no surprise to find out that the competition for many scholarships will be high and that it will likely take time, organisation and dedication to secure one, meaning that you should be particularly selective of which you apply for.
While searching and applying for scholarship will no doubt take considerable effort, this can be made more efficient and effective with a little preparation and self-reflection before the search begins. To do this, we therefore recommend that any potential applicant considers their answers to the following four questions. Doing so should better inform you as to whether a scholarship may be suitable or not.
Q1. What can I offer that others can’t?
It helps to know how varied scholarships can be. Looking at the most common types that were detailed in Chapter 1 may give you ideas of what you could offer in your application. Brainstorm your extra-curricular involvements, review your transcripts, speak with your tutors about your predicted grades, and reflect on your life experiences. Then ask yourself, do I qualify for any of the following?
- Academic Excellence
- Athletic Excellence
- Unique Talents/Skills
- Military Affiliation
- Field Experience
Q2. How much time can I commit?
To greatly increase the likelihood of scholarship success, it’s suggested that students submit up to ten applications per month. However, this could potentially be quite time consuming as a typical scholarship requires completion of an application form, resume, essay and accompanying educational transcripts and references. While being organised will expedite the process, you may need to manage your expectations (and accept your likelihood of failure) if you aren’t able to schedule in ‘scholarship application time’ each and every week. If your schedule is already tight, it may be best to admit that now isn’t the right time for you.
Q3. Do I know how to find scholarships?
The process of actually finding scholarships will vary greatly from country to country. Although the United States seems to offer more options to both domestic and international students than other countries such as the UK, the following advice can still be applied anywhere. One method if you’re already at university is to ask your school’s dedicated careers counsellor as this person should be able to provide you with helpful advice. Saying that, a counsellor will likely look online for their information, which is somewhere that anyone with the right key words can check too. Identifying where scholarships are advertised online isn’t always easy however, although the following search terms may help. Try typing one or many of the following search strings into an internet search engine and see what comes up:
- the institute of your preferred study + ‘scholarships’
- the degree type (BA/MA/PhD) + ‘available scholarships’
- the subject major + ‘scholarships’
- ‘scholarships in’ + state, country, province
- ‘scholarship testimonials’
The following scholarship sites are also popular, particularly in the USA:
Q4. Can I get by without funding?
For some, a full-tuition scholarship is perhaps the only realistic way of being able to afford higher education. Other applicants may qualify for an educational private loan but simply disagree about university education burdening students with so much debt. For the latter, it may be the case that any amount received is helpful and that applying for a scholarship is not an all-or-nothing situation. Either way, scholarships are competitive, and it’s advisable to calculate whether the application process is worth your time and energy. Many students will be applying for university placements at the same time as scholarships. If you’re in this category, consider whether or not you can get by if you don’t succeed in your applications as this may determine the level of effort you’re willing to put in.
Hopefully, these all-important questions will have helped to prepare you mentally for the long road ahead, bringing you one step closer to scholarship success. To next find out about our top ten tips for securing a scholarship, continue reading with Chapter 3, and don’t forget to unlock and complete our worksheets too.
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