10 Reasons Why Your Scholarship Application Was Rejected
Everyone wants to be awarded a scholarship. Even those who may not need the money all that badly still apply for scholarships. Why? Besides the financial aid, getting a scholarship is recognition of your merit and achievements. It is something to be proud of, for sure. Besides, it will look great on your CV when you apply for an internship or job later on.
Here’s a story about two people who were both hoping for a scholarship. Let’s call the first person Emil – a top student at school (always straight As), active in several extra-curricular activities in leadership roles, and has represented his school in debate competitions. Chances are Emil could be feeling quite confident about his application. On the other side we have Tikri, an average student with reasonably good grades, member of two student clubs that he’s passionate about, and plays football with the neighborhood guys. Of course, Tikri is also hoping for a scholarship.
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Would you be surprised to learn that Tikri was shortlisted for the scholarship while Emil wasn’t? Do you feel a great sense of injustice for Emil? Well, hold your horses and let’s have a look at what could’ve gone wrong.
Many people are surprised when someone with a less impressive list of achievements is called up for a scholarship interview or ends up being the next scholarship recipient. Although the scholarship selection process is quite subjective in some areas, there are some things you can (and should) do to make sure your scholarship application doesn’t end up in the ‘reject’ pile.
Although these tips may seem really basic, getting them right will help make sure your application gets off on the right foot (and into the ‘shortlist for interview’ pile). So, let’s look at 10 reasons why your scholarship could be rejected:
1. You did not qualify under the terms of the scholarship.
Most scholarships specify the terms under which prospective candidates are eligible. This could concern the applicant’s age, academic achievement, area of study, level of study, and many other things. As an example, if the scholarship is offered only for disciplines in engineering and business, you can be quite sure of getting rejected if you indicate your choice of degree as ‘Bachelor of Marketing Communications’.
2. Your application was incomplete.
If you’ve applied for scholarships before, you’ll understand how lengthy some scholarships forms can be. From details of all your family members to every last thing you did in school, some applications request enough information for you to write an autobiography. Tedious as it may be, you have to make sure you provide all the info they want, and if for some reason you can’t, be sure you include a short explanation why.
3. You did not include a valid contact.
Make sure you give a phone number at which you can be contacted. Now’s the time to make sure your pre-paid line is active. Also, now is also not a good time to change phone numbers. Some organizations may contact you via email, so make sure you check your email daily.
4. You missed the deadline.
Think it won’t happen to you? Think again. Many candidates start out with great gusto when filling out their application but they may get distracted along the way, or dawdle at the difficult parts where they need to write an essay. If you’re late, you’re out.
5. You did not include enough postage.
If you’re sending out your application by mail, make sure you put the correct amount of postage on your envelope. Double check to make sure the address is the right one too. If your application doesn’t reach them, you have zero chances of moving to the next stage.
6. You submitted a dirty or torn application.
Don’t laugh. It happens. In the process of compiling your application form, academic transcripts and other documents, who knows: you may have spilt coffee on them, sat on them, or even ripped them. If that happens, start over with clean crisp copies. There’s nothing that puts off a potential interviewer more than dirty, crumpled or torn applications.
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7. Your application contained several spelling errors.
When you don’t stop long enough to correct the spelling mistakes in your application, you’re telling them that you don’t care all that much about whether you get the scholarship. So do read it through to catch typos that spell-check miss. And while you’re at it, check the punctuation and grammar too. Get help if you think you need a second opinion.
8. You copied your personal statement or essay from the Internet.
It’s too tempting sometimes…. There you are surfing the Internet to get ideas for your personal statement or essay and there in front of you lies a sample essay that fits you to a T. You may be thinking, “Should I use it? Oh, who would know?” If you’re copying essays from the Internet then most likely another student will be doing the same. Getting caught is risky and not worth it. Write your own – you’ll be glad you did.
9. You submitted irrelevant or inappropriate supporting documents.
There may some of you who are simply the kiasu type. Well, try to control yourself. If the application requests for only 4 types of documents, then please don’t supply 10! You don’t want to annoy the people in charge of vetting through applications. If they have to go through an entire stack of irrelevant documents to approve your application, chances are they won’t.
10. Your handwriting is illegible.
These days, most applications can be done online. And even if they need to be sent in my snail mail, you can always complete your application on a computer and print it out. However, there will be instances where you’ll be requested to submit a handwritten essay. Or perhaps you have no option but to submit a handwritten application. In these situations, do make sure your writing is neat and legible. You don’t want them to get frustrated trying to decipher your writing.
If you want to boost your chances of success in your scholarship search, keep these tips in mind even though they may sound overly simple. Begin early in your search and prepare a few strategies along the way. Here’s one to get you started.
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ESSENTIAL TIPS WHEN APPLYING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
Applying for scholarships can be a time-consuming process and scholarship applicants often face stiff competition. By using the tips below, you will increase your chances of success. It is important to recognize that most scholarship funds support full-time students rather than those studying part-time.
- Search, search, search…… and don’t wait for the perfect scholarship Persistence is the key to getting a scholarship. Stop waiting and start applying. Do a web search; use the AUT scholarship’s web pages and national scholarship databases a list of places to start is at the end of this document. The more difficult it is to find a particular scholarship; the less competition you are likely to have. While you should avoid applying for scholarships that you are clearly ineligible for, you must also avoid waiting for the perfect scholarship.
- But do only apply if you are eligible ………
Check the eligibility criteria carefully and select scholarships that fit your skills, personal attributes and research interests. Is there a minimum GPA required? Does the scholarship require demonstrated financial need? If you apply for every scholarship you stumble upon, you will submit weak, off-target applications and waste a lot of valuable time. Spend your time perfecting those scholarship applications that match you and you will then produce strong, relevant applications.
- Write an up to date resume (CV)
Focus on your strengths. Before you start applying for scholarships, write a resume and then keep it up to date. This resume should include all important information such as dates, academic history, a summary of your work experience, publications and your extracurricular activities and interests. Even if a scholarship application does not require a CV writing one will help to focus your thoughts and remind you of what you have accomplished so far.
- Participate in extracurricular activities
In most instances grade point average (GPA) will be important, however, many scholarship committees do not simply choose the student with the highest GPA. That is only half the story; committees may be equally interested in your extracurricular activities. Are you involved in the community? Have you volunteered your time to assist others? What jobs have you had? Have you published any articles? What are your goals? Involvement in other activities shows an ability to manage your time and a willingness to become involved. Many scholarship committees are interested in awarding to students they consider well-rounded and who demonstrate leadership qualities.
- Identify the funder’s goals
The student who best meets the funder’s requirements is awarded the scholarship. As simple as this may seem, many students don’t take time to ensure they know what these requirements are. Read through all the scholarship information and scan the funder’s website carefully for details and clues about what the funder’s goals are.
- Arrange your references early
Ask key people now if they are available to provide you with written references or to act as your referee. You may need both academic and personal referees. Many applications have failed due to reference statements not being received on time, or the referee being unavailable or unprepared to comment. Ensure that any written reference
statements are generic i.e. they do not refer to any specific scholarship. Most referees are happy to provide a reference; however, they may not be happy to write a separate statement for each application.
- Watch deadlines carefully
Scholarships panels will not accept late applications. Make a calendar of closing dates and display it in your workspace. Once you determine which scholarships to apply for, begin your applications immediately. Arrange for copies of academic transcripts well before the submission dates. Set yourself a personal deadline to complete an application two weeks before the official deadline and mark this on your calendar. This precaution will guarantee that your application will get there in time and you will have time to carefully proofread your application and to ensure all documentation is available. Your application will be stronger if it is not rushed and last minute.
- Writing your application
Follow all instructions carefully. If you don’t follow the specific instructions exactly, your application may be rejected in a preliminary check. Most scholarship committees would not even consider applications that have major errors. Did you get the scholarship name right? Have you included all the information asked for? Did you provide the correct contact information? If an application is unreadable, it will be rejected. A neat, clean application is far more appealing than an illegible, food-encrusted and sloppy application. Write your application in draft so you can
make all the changes you want on the rough draft while still maintaining a clean, fresh final draft.
- Proofread your application
By proofreading your applications carefully you can easily increase your chances of success. Once you have verified the information on the application, read through any personal statements or research outlines again. Are there any spelling errors? What about grammatical errors? Is it formatted correctly? Finally, check your application again the day after you wrote it. By checking the next day, you will gain a fresh perspective and notice things that you might have missed the day before. Simply spending a little more time can vastly increase your chance of being successful.
- Ask someone else to proofread your application
After you have proofread your application ask someone else to proofread it. This may be a colleague but should preferably be someone who is experienced in both proofreading and has knowledge of scholarship applications.
- Send by certified mail
Send you application by certified mail or courier or hand it in directly and ask for a receipt. After all the hard work, it would be very disappointing to have your application lost in the mail system. I would be willing to pay slightly extra for the peace of mind!
- “Never, never, never, never give up “. (Winston Churchill)
Don’t be surprised if you are not successful with your first application. Rather, be surprised if you are! Once you submit your first scholarship application, begin the next one. Remember to treat each application individually and give it the same level of care. The key to winning a scholarship is determination. If you refuse to give up then you exponentially increase your chance of being successful.