October 8, 2015, by International students
A scholarship winner shares her tips for making a successful application
I have to state this before I continue writing: I have no guarantee that following my ideas will 100% get you that scholarship, but I do hope they help you on your journey to scholarship success.
On June 10, 2015 I received a mail that I had been waiting for since November 2014. I had won the 50% Developing Solutions Masters Scholarship. Unbelievable! When I converted the money in pounds to my local currency I was astonished and humbled. I realised that until that moment in my life I have never won anything that humongous. I couldn’t believe it (I still can’t believe it). My eyes welled up with tears and my heart was so full with gratitude. From believing that other people were lucky in getting things like this and you were not meant to be lucky, to having a scholarship and bursary given to you without leaving your country is more than amazing.
So how do you win a scholarship? I am no expert at all. Applying for the Developing Solutions masters scholarship (and the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship) was my first time applying for a scholarship. However I have a quite a few classmates who also got scholarships so I decided to ask them about their scholarship application experience so that together with my experience I can write a better article.
- Get an admission: It seems so obvious right? But people don’t know that. Except for the Chevening Scholarship which allows you to start the application before getting an admission, the majority of scholarships require that you have an admission before applying. You need to know what you want to do and why you want to study that course.
- Apply before the deadline: I would have rephrased it this point as ‘apply early’ but my definition of early might not be your definition of early. Personally I tend to give myself a deadline earlier than the stated deadline. For example the deadline for the Developing Solutions Scholarship was April 2015 but I had submitted my application in February 2015. Talking to my classmates I found out some applied in March and April 2015. The month you applied doesn’t matter but the fact remains APPLY BEFORE THE DEADLINE.
- Sell yourself: When I was filling my application I was really confused about what the scholarship panel wanted from me. I asked a friend who happens to be an alumnus of this university that was also awarded a scholarship when he was here and he said ‘you have to sell yourself’. You have to show that you are worth the award. Some of the guys I interviewed said you need to show all that you have done in terms of experience, previous awards if you have been given, any volunteer work, how good you were during your undergraduate studies (for example if you were in the top 10% of your class when graduating). I had written the answers I thought were perfect when I asked him and I was like ‘wow! I have to hype myself’. It was strange for me because I usually like my work to speak for me.
- You need be straight to the point: That was a struggle for me because I like to yap (talk) or write a lot (that is one of the reason I started blogging. Facebook and Twitter’s words restriction was not doing it for me…lol). So having to convey my message in 50, sometimes 100 words, was really hard. I can say I rewrote my answers more than 50 times. I kept writing, editing, rewriting, editing over and over. I wanted to convey my thoughts without losing any part of it. I think that a dictionary or Google is helpful with rephrasing words.
- Know your course: This is so obvious to me but I found out that some people don’t know their intended course. Some people have chosen courses because of reasons like ‘I just want to travel out of my country’, ‘I want to make lots of money’, ‘I want an easy course’ and so on. I personally think that is wrong. You have to love your course and see how studying that course can impact the lives of people round the world.
- Answer the questions truthfully: This is a point that I personally believe in. I know some people are very good with words but I believe that you need to answer the questions asked as truthfully as you can. You never know if your answers could be brought up against you. I didn’t complete some scholarships because I didn’t agree with their terms and conditions and I just couldn’t continue with it. I didn’t want to lie. And there was a question where it was asked ‘how would the scholarship help you?’ One of my reasons was ‘I won’t be able to afford to study here’. There was no need beating about the bush. It was the plain truth.
- Check your spelling and word phrasing: I cannot overemphasise that. Even if you have been speaking English since you were born, there is still a tendency to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistake but this is a time you don’t want to make any mistakes. I re-read my answers over 30 times. I would write them then close my computer for days then re-read it again at a very slow pace to check for errors. It is better to take a long time to write your application answers than to make silly mistakes.
Like I said I am no expert and I am sure that there are other helpful tips that I didn’t write here. However I advise you to research how to answer scholarship questions online. Some of the articles and forum answers helped me a lot.
And forgive me but for religious people like me the last advice I would give would be to pray, a lot after you have submitted your application. Pray and have faith, those things were what helped calm me down when I started to feel anxious. Another thing that calmed me down was talking to the International Office staff that came to Nigeria for an educational fair. She was really helpful and after speaking with her I was much calmer than I had ever been since I started the application journey. She didn’t assure me that I would get the scholarship but she answered a lot of the questions I had.
For those who don’t know what type of scholarship to apply for, I would have to recommend taking a look at the scholarship page of the school’s website. There is an amazing amount of scholarships for different countries/geographical regions and levels of study.
Here are some of the links:
I hope you enjoyed my article and would share it with someone you know would benefit from it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it.
A special thanks to Dr Ayokunnu Raji, Dr Samuel Enokela and Dr Ben Lawrence Kemah for answering my questions when I interviewed them.
Before I sign out, I have to say that I rep The University of Nottingham because it was #meanttobe.
Omowunmi A Osinubi (but I go by Petite Diva online: www.journalofapetitediva.com) is an international student from Nigeria and is studying Master of Public Health (International Health).