The insiders take on what makes a good scholarship candidate
Applying for a scholarship can be a daunting experience. It’s often a complex process to navigate with potential pitfalls at every turn. With this in mind, Oh! asked several experts with considerable experience in selecting scholarship candidates to give us the view from the other side. They’ve provided some useful advice, from the initial application to the final interview. They’ve pointed out what makes a candidate stand out from the crowd, and what the big turn-offs are.
The Application Form
‘Be Prepared!’ Read all the instructions carefully in advance and include all the documents asked for. Major scholarship programs get hundreds of applications and anyone missing even one document will be rejected straight away – no matter how good a candidate you are or how strong your application is, you won’t pass the first hurdle.
‘Don’t undersell yourself.’ The application form is your opportunity to market yourself. Think about how you want to be perceived by the person making the decision and show that.
‘Know where you’re going.’ - Strong applicants are aware of where they are now, and have a vision of where they want to be and the skills they need to get there.
‘Get some advice when writing a CV.’ Amateurish CV’s are a big turn-off. Ask for help or go online, there’s plenty of good stuff out there.
‘If you get help in filling the form, keep it realistic.’ It’s good to get a native speaker to input some ideas, but forms which are totally the product of a native speaker are easy to spot and this often leaves you with a lot to live up to if you are selected for an interview.
I don't know is the kiss of death in an interview.
The Dreaded Interview....
‘Do your research’ – find out something specific about the country you are applying to that goes beyond merely ‘it’s beautiful’. Have interesting things to say about the people or the culture, as well as specifics about the universities or colleges you are interested in studying at.
‘Show that you are open, flexible and outgoing.’ These are the kinds of characteristics which will enable someone to thrive in a different environment which can often be challenging, so this is a huge factor in an interviewer’s decision.
‘Be passionate about what you do and what you want to do’. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to show that you’ve got a thoughtful approach which includes being able to see yourself and your role in the broader context of the development of your country.
‘Show your thirst for learning’. This isn’t so much about showing you have been on a thousand courses. The interviewer wants to hear about the skills you’ve got from learning and how you’ve used them.
And finally, remember ‘I don’t know’ is the kiss of death in an interview.
By David Fairhurst