Choosing a scholarship that’s right for you

Choosing a scholarship that's right for you

With so many scholarship options out there, deciding which ones to apply for can be a little overwhelming. Applying for multiple is great, as it increases your chances of receiving one; but each application takes time, and deadlines can sneak up quickly. So how do you work out which ones to apply for and which ones to leave? Let’s go through some things to keep in mind choosing a scholarship that’s right for you – you’ll save time and boost your chances of success.

Things to know about yourself

If you’re applying for a scholarship, there’s probably a reason, right? Maybe you’re a bit tight on money and need the extra support, or maybe you want access to an exclusive opportunity that could boost your career. Whatever the reason, before you apply for any scholarships, sit down and ask yourself these questions to narrow your focus:

Where am I going?

Scholarships are generally available for different study types and institutions. An opportunity for apprentices might not be open to university students, and vice versa. At the same time, some scholarships are often open to students studying in specific areas (e.g. if you’re studying design, you can’t apply for an engineering scholarship). Having at least an idea of where you want to go after school can ensure you don’t apply for scholarships you’re not eligible for.

What do I need?

Most scholarships offer money; some offer other opportunities too, like accommodation, work experience, mentorship, travel, and more. Once you know what you really need out of a scholarship, you’ll know exactly what to look for when you start your search.

What do I want?

Conversely, if there’s nothing you really need, think about what you want instead. If a scholarship includes a work placement at your dream company, you should definitely apply, even if you don’t think you’ll need the money – think of it like an extra perk instead (besides, reducing the costs of your education is always worth it anyway).

What am I good at?

For most scholarship applications, you’ll need to show that you’re the right candidate. You might be asked about your academic results, community work, leadership roles, or soft skills. Knowing your strengths will help you write a confident and complete application.

Have I faced disadvantage?

As well as achievement-based scholarships, there are lots of scholarships out there to support students who have been or are going through tough times. If you live in a rural area, come from a migrant background, are First Nations, are under-represented in your study area (e.g. women in STEM), or have been through a challenging family situation, there is probably a scholarship out there for you.

Things to know about the scholarship

Now that you know a bit about yourself and what you’re looking for, it’s time to start your search. If you think you’ve found the perfect scholarship, here are some things to check before you rush in and apply:

Who is it offered by?

Unfortunately, there are some opportunities out there that are just too good to be true. Before giving away any personal information, make sure you do some research into who is offering the scholarship and whether it’s legitimate. Safe bets usually include scholarships offered through a university or other education institution, or ones offered by well-known businesses and organisations.

What is the eligibility criteria?

If you run out and apply for every single opportunity that looks good, regardless of whether you actually meet the eligibility criteria, you’re just wasting your own time and that of the scholarship committee. Check the eligibility criteria and see if you tick all the boxes, then proceed with your application.

What are the terms?

Many scholarships have specific terms you’ll need to abide by after you receive the money. This can include things like only spending the money on certain items, needing to study specific subjects, or mandatory attendance at events. Carefully read through the scholarship terms before you apply and make sure you’re comfortable following all of them – failure to comply could result in the money being withdrawn.

What does it offer?

This one basically ties in with the second point in the first section – see what you’ll actually get from the scholarship and if it matches your needs. A scholarship that offers $10,000 towards accommodation might sound great, but if you’re still living at home it’s not what you need right now.

Applying for scholarships

Hopefully after following these steps you’ll have found the perfect scholarship (or two) and are all set to apply. You might be interested in reading our other blogs on writing a great personal statement, staying organised during the application process, and common application pitfalls to avoid.

If you still need some more information on choosing a scholarship that’s right for you, we have heaps of other articles and tips on scholarships on our website here.

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