4 Reasons Why Applying for Scholarships Is Not A Waste Of Time
Ever wanted to apply for a scholarship yet you're worried you don't have what it takes? Have you ever felt like it's a futile attempt and that you're just setting yourself up for disappointment?
Applying for scholarships will surely take time and energy (and some money, let's get real here), but it isn't as far-fetched an idea as you think it is.
Not convinced? From an ordinary gal like me who's applied for four scholarships and won two, read on. It's not impossible... and definitely not a waste of time! Here are four reasons why.
Not all scholars are geniuses.
Yep. You heard me right. I sure am not, and neither is a good percentage of my fellow scholars. If I can just show you my transcript of records, you'll know what I mean. I got some pretty high grades (like Basketball P.E. and Communication Arts, ha!), but I almost flunked Anatomy and got barely passing marks on my internship.
And if by genius we mean insanely high IQ results, then I'm here to tell you that one's IQ doesn't really tell much about you. Remember MENSA, that exclusive group of people who's nailed their IQ tests? Well, you can find them working in a wide range of sectors: they’re businessmen, doctors, prostitutes, and government workers.
Really, there's no telling (based on your IQ results, at least) where one ends up later on, not the least whether he or she gets an awesome scholarship to live and study abroad.
So if you're not a genius: don't worry. You still stand a chance. Why? Because...
A Lot of the smartypants out there won’t actually apply.
Since people think that scholarships are so difficult and time-consuming to achieve, they just drop out of the game or not even try. And yes, that includes our genius, cream of the crop friends.
On top of that, information about scholarships do not travel nearly as fast as gossip, so not every person out there who's got better grades than us or have a more outstanding CV will know about the scholarship opportunity you're eyeing now.
I remember my straight-A classmate in college who went to become a doctor. He didn't even consider applying for a scholarship. Actually, he didn't know that my kind of scholarship even existed! Erasmus what?!
What's more, some of them just couldn't be bothered to go back to school when they're already earning enough, well on their way to having rewarding careers, or just not keen on uprooting themselves because of family circumstances/obligations.
Whatever their reasons are... THEY'RE NOT APPLYING.
What if you just make that decision to go for it? Really, the scholarships are there for the taking, and not everybody knows about them or would even try.
not all scholarships are based on merit alone.
You've got those competitive scholarships that require you to have crazy high grades, or those leadership grants that ask for a solid experience in community development.
But not all scholarships are equal, and there's more to it than just good grades and flawless grammar. It doesn’t mean that you’re your class valedictorian that you’ll be able to weave a narrative so compelling that the judges will be convinced it’s you that they’re looking for.
Many scholarship judges also look for a balance between achievement, passion, and potential.
Your application has to resonate to the scholarship judges and convince them that you’re their guy/gal. One way to do that is to draft a powerful motivation letter that effectively shows "the fit." Check out my sample motivation letter (with a free worksheet to help you brainstorm what to write) to know what I'm talking about.
On many instances, it also has to do with who you're up against - your competition. Be aware that the applicants' profiles change every year, and you might just find yourself being in the right place at the right time.
So imagine this: I've got so-so grades but I also have a solid background and work experience related to the master's I'm applying to. If I'm lucky enough to apply alongside a group of fresh grads with outstanding scores, I still do stand a chance.
And if you're that applicant with a rocking motivation letter (tailored, shows "the fit", impactful, and grammatically sound) and a pair of excellent recommendation letters who happen to apply the same year as those straight-A students who didn't really put much thought and care into these aspects of the application, then who do you think will get noticed more?
you'll gain relevant "adulting" skills and build material you can tweak later on.
I know the feeling of overwhelm that can take over as you prepare your documents, study for your TOEFL/IELTS exam, and whip up a persuasive motivation letter. Actually, it's quite tempting to just throw in the towel. How can you know for sure if your hard work will pay off in the end?
But think of it this way: whether you end up getting the scholarship or not, you’re going to learn some skills that will be valuable for you in other contexts.
Applying for a scholarship trains you to be organized and meticulous. It "forces" you to learn how to deal with paperwork and bureaucracy (trust me, it's just one of many).
Scholarship hunting is also a great way for you to learn to market yourself, show a perfect fit between you and the program you’re applying to, and to improve your communication skills. These will surely come in handy in other life contexts.
One really helpful way of looking at it is to think of the scholarship application process as another job hunting challenge. Does anyone really regret applying for a job they've always dreamed of?
And don’t worry… if you don’t get it this year, you can always build on what you already have (motivation letter, scholarship essay, etc.) for the next round of applications. You can even use what you learned in the process to draft your job application cover letters. Sweet!
So I say just go for it! You'll thank yourself later.