Maybe you just received an email back letting you know that you did not proceed to the next stage of the application. Maybe you are preparing your application materials right now and you want to make sure you have all your bases covered. Whatever stage you’re in the process, we are here to highlight several mistakes that you can avoid to prepare a successful application.
1. You do not observe the word count.
Have you been asked to write a 1000-word personal statement? Have you instead written only 300 words describing why you should be an awardee? Stop! Don’t pass up the chance to tell the application committee about why you deserve the scholarship. The words are there for you, use them!
2. You have numerous typos and grammatical errors.
What if your personal statement is being read by someone picky about grammar? Don’t give anyone a reason to give you a lower rating. Granted, an excellent application might still be considered excellent, regardless of a few typos. But since this is in your power, work on it. Get a friend, family member, or colleague to edit your essay. Print out your materials and read through them, aloud. You might not get all the typos (even award winning novels sometimes have typos), but you will at least do your best in eliminating obvious errors.
3. You don’t meet the eligibility criteria.
There are thousands of scholarships available, but that doesn’t mean that every scholarship is there for the taking. Some scholarships are based on merit only. Some are age-based. Others specify only certain nationalities to apply. Others say the kinds of courses you can apply to. Still others say that you need to have been resident in a particular place for a number of years before you apply. Pay careful attention to the eligibility criteria. No matter how awesome you are, you will not be a competitive candidate if you do not meet all of the eligibility criteria. In fact, you will make work easier for the selection committee because they can easily disqualify you for failing to meet the criteria.
4. Your recommenders are letting you down.
Your recommendation/references are an important part of your application, because they help to show the selection committee how others view you. Do your recommenders corroborate the information you have shared in your application? Do they praise you for your service to the community? Do they really know you? Did your recommender forget to submit your recommendation? Some recommenders can really let you down, by simply writing that they confirm that they know you, that you did well in class, and that they recommend you for the scholarship. These recommendations are akin to a confirmation of existence. They do not really portray who you are. Do your best to ensure that you recommenders are not letting you down. Read our post with tips on how to get great recommendations.
5. Your personal statement leaves much to be desired.
Your personal statement or scholarship essay is your chance to give your all. Don’t let this document let your down. Some applicants use the personal statement to reproduce their CV in narrative form. Others heavily focus on one aspect, such as their academics, without talking about their impact on their community. Do not miss the mark with your personal statement. For more tips on how to write a personal statement, read our personal statement blog posts on how to get ideas for your personal statement, how to write your first draft, and how to rewrite it.