A university education doesn’t come cheap, and earning income through scholarships is one way to help cover the costs. This can be a time-consuming process and scholarship applicants often face stiff competition, hence I’ve put together my top tips for applying to scholarships and staying organised.
Start Applications Early
Schools have a specific amount of funding available and the earlier you apply, the more you will receive and the easier it will be to get a scholarship. That’s not the only reason to start early though: as the academic year moves closer, the more things you realise you need to do.
You don’t want to be juggling funding around with exams, personal statements and coursework.
Create A Scholarship Log
Time management is especially critical if you’re juggling multiple scholarship applications. Make a calendar of all the deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to work on each application, and ensuring you submit all the required documents. Speaking of which, you may find creating a scholarship binder helpful. You not only keep your scholarship applications in one place, but also your scholarship portfolio, submission materials, deadlines, notes, and so much more.
Apply to all Eligible Scholarships
Only applying to scholarships your university offers is a mistake. Don’t forget thousands of scholarships outside of your university exist. Applying to these outside scholarships allows for you to apply to much more money (and potentially win more money) as well.
Often, students won’t apply for small reward scholarships either, and immediately turn towards the higher paying one and this is a bad approach to have! Since people often turn away from these smaller scholarships, not as many people apply for them, which means you have a higher chance of winning! So, although a £500 scholarship prize may seem small, when you apply for multiple of these scholarships, they definitely start to add up!
Set Up Calendar Reminders for Critical Deadlines
As you search for scholarships, you might not apply to them all right away. Instead, you might bookmark a page to get back to it later, allowing you to continue your search.
While that approach to managing your scholarship search is acceptable, it doesn’t necessarily ensure that you will actually come back and apply. If you want to make sure you don’t miss your chance, jump to your calendar and create a reminder!
Create a new appointment on the day the scholarship application is due and, in the notes section, add a copy of the link to the website. Then, schedule an alert for one week before the deadline and another for the day before the deadline, ensuring you get two reminders to handle your application.
Be Prepared to Provide Letters of Recommendation
Ask key people now if they are available to provide you with written references or to act as your referee. Let your referee no of the closing date for references – this will, in most cases, be a day or two before the closing date. You may need both academic and personal referees.
Many applications fail due to references and supporting statements not being received on time or the referee being unavailable or unprepared to comment. Most referees are happy to provide a reference; however, they may not be happy to write a separate statement for each application so ask them to save a copy in case you need to use them again.
Double Check Your Application
Before you turn the application in, make sure that you have included every piece of supporting documentation necessary to complete it. If you don’t have a document, your application may end up in the trash. Don’t expect the scholarship committee to contact you if you are missing something.