Things to Prepare Before Applying a Scholarship

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 232 comments

by Damry, University of Tadulako, Indonesia

Getting a scholarship for an overseas study is a competitive process. This is because many people like you want the scholarship, but not all can be awarded. The cholarship money is simply not enough to fund all at once. Also, the scholarship providers want to ensure that only the best, well prepared applicants are selected and so the money is spent rightly and efficiently to what it is intended for. So, you have to be a winner!

Lots of people have won scholarship. You hear this every time. But how have they done this good job? Are they luckier or more superior or intelligent than others? No, they are not! If you ask them about the winning secrets are, they may simply give you the following lists: things to prepare or consider before applying a scholarship.

Academic certificate and transcript
Soon after graduation, do not wait. Obtain your original academic certificate and transcript, and make some copies of them. You need to certify them and, remember, that people at university are some times going somewhere when you need their signatures. More importantly, you need to translate both your academic certificate and transcript. Check around, there maybe some people have done the same. This will ease the task. If not, they are yours anyway. When you are done, it is wise to get other people to see them. They may give you valuable inputs, even correcting misspelled course names. Again, you need signatures of dean and rector on the translated version of your academic certificate and record.

Research proposal
You need to decide earlier which study route you are going to undertake - course or research or both. If you prefer a course-based study, you do not need a proposal. But if you are going to do a research, you definitely need a research proposal.

Good research proposal require time and energy to construct. So it is always better to prepare it earlier. Basically, the proposal will not be much different to the one you have done previously in your research as part of your undergraduate study. This will include background, objective, problems or questions to answer, hypothesis, methodology, and references. These are the essences of a proposal.

When you are done with those basic requirements, ask suggestions from others. When the application is open, check if the scholarship provider requires a bit more to what you have prepared.

Letter from intended university and supervisors
Download application form from the university website and fill it before send it back to the university. The university will respond you and issue you with a letter of acceptance. You may indicate in the form that you will begin your study next year, waiting for a scholarship which you are now struggling for. Most likely they will issue you with a conditional acceptance. They will keep reissuing this until you succeed with your scholarship application.

While your are in the website, go to your targeted department or school to find your potential supervisor. Even, this needs to be done first before filling in a admission form. The reason you will not studying in this university unless you have got an academic staff willing to supervise you. So get their email address, and make contacts with them. In the first time, you just need to introduce yourself, mention your academic background and your research proposal, and ask if he/she is available to supervise you. If they are busy because there are many students already under their responsibilities, don't panic. Ask him/her if they know people around there who are still able to take additional students.

The good with the letter from university and supervisor when you have them at hand is that you can attach them to your application form and present them to the interviewers. These letters will increase your chances of winning the scholarship because the interviewers will so impressed that you are better prepared and have taken more advanced steps compared to other candidates.

For those who are married, this must not be overlooked. Not all scholarship providers allow you to bring family members (spouse and children) with you. The majority is yes, but you need to ensure whether additional funds for family members are available or not. If not, this means you have to be prepared to fund them yourself. Even if they do provide additional funds for family members, there are always cost to be funded using your own money. This is because the scholarship, usually, will only fund basic needs such living expenses, health insurance, health clearance before departure and visa. Other than these such as cost of transportation - international or domestic - are usually not covered and so funds for these have to be prepared.

More need to think if your spouse is working, especially if it is in a government institution or department. Will she be allowed to go with you or not? If, how are you going to overcome this. A discusion with spouse is needed here.

If you are currently working, you need to check if your employer support you for a further study or not. If yes, it will allow you to go and may provide you with financial supports as well. Generally, government bodies support for human resource development of their employees and so this is not usually a problem for public servants. This is not the case for private enterprises, so many candidates working in these commercial bodies have had to maka a tough decision.

Health status is another consideration for successfully obtaining a scholarship. Some people are fail or at least postponed to start their study because of health problems. So, if you intend to apply for a scholarship, keep practicing those healthy habits. Most scholarship providers will provide a health insurance to their awardees, but you need to make sure about what all this insurance covers. Does it cover dental and eyes-related health problems? If it not, then it is cheaper for example going to a dental practitioner or buying glasses here than there.

Driving license
It is advantageous to have a car there, not only to support your daily academic activities but also for your leisures. This is especially true if you are going there with your family members. But to do this, you need to have a valid license. Check with the scholarship or with experienced people whether a foreign license can be used in the intended country or not. This include different policies from one state to another. If students are allowed to use a foreign license, get one here or revalidate your old one. Obtaining a driving license there is expensive and time demanding.

So, these are things that you may prepare or consider before applying a scholarship. Remember that a good preparation equals to halfway through the whole process. Be prepared and win the scholarship!

University of Tadulako, Indonesia. He is an Australian Development Scholarship (ADS) alumni and can be reached at:

5 Essential Elements of a Great Scholarship Application

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 3 comments

An Articel by Shah J. Chaudhry

Okay, after going through the various types of scholarships you’ve completed your scholarship search and finally narrowed down your options to a selected few scholarships that completely suit your needs. Now the next step is to develop a first class scholarship application. In order to create a great scholarship application, the first thing you need to do is get organized. Start out with creating a file and start compiling copies of all the work you have submitted. Secondly, start making your resume. Your resume should list details of your high school career, work experience and any social groups you belong to. Next, you sort all the scholarships available according to the scholarship application due dates and finally, make a list of requirements that each scholarhips application asks for.

There are four basic elements of the scholarship application process:
# Letter(s) of recommendation
# Transcript
# Personal statement (essay)
# Activity Sheet
# Interview
The rest of the article explains in detail about the 5 essential components of the scholarship application.

Letters of Recommendation:
Most scholarships require (as part of the scholarship application process) you to submit a letter of recommendation as part of the scholarship application. This letter of recommendation can come from your high school teacher, an alumni, some prominent member of your community, or your employer. These letters are basically needed because the scholarship sponsors want to analyze your strengths and attributes from a point of view different than your own.

The first thing you should keep in mind is to make a request of a letter of recommendation early so you aren’t panicking on the time of submission of the scholarship application. It should be well before your deadline so that the person who is writing the letter of recommendation has plenty of time to write a good and strong letter. You should notify the person when the scholarship application deadline is and contact them a few times before the deadline to remind them and see how the letter is going.

When you are selecting someone to write a letter of recommendation for your scholarship application, it is a wise decision to ask someone who knows you very well and admires you for the person you are and for what you have achieved. A person who knows you well can talk about your strengths and weaknesses better and can describe your accomplishments in a proper manner as compared to someone who does not know you very well.

As part of your scholarship application, make sure that you provide information about yourself to the person who is going to write the letter of recommendation. Give them your resume, your writing samples and other documents that display your talents and abilities. Talk to the writer and discuss the kind of image you are intending to portray and which part of your personality should be emphasized. Another thing you can do in order to help the person in writing a letter of recommendation for your scholarship application is to provide a written description of the scholarship so that the writer knows what you are applying for. As mentioned before, clearly inform the writer of the deadline of your scholarship application.

Lastly, donĂ¢€™t forget to write a thank-you note to the person who has written the letter of recommendation for your scholarship application.

Often, scholarship applications require a transcript from all of the schools you have previously attended. You should request this information from all of your past educational institutions as soon as possible. Sometimes, schools charge fee to issue official transcripts. Once you have contacted your past schools and requested a transcript, call them after a couple of weeks and make sure that they have mailed the your transcript to the proper address. In case you are delivering the transcript yourself, then make sure that you let it remain sealed and do not tamper with it because it may make the transcript invalid and ruin one of the most important elements of your scholarship application.

Personal statement (essay)
Several scholarship committees require students to submit an essay along with their application. There are several purposes due to which the scholarship committees require an essay. One of the main reasons is that these scholarship committees want to see a sample of your writing, and that they want to get to know the applicant. Another purpose is to enable the applicants to share something about themselves that may not be reflected in the statistics and facts they have provided. The essay is also very important because it allows the applicants to express their individuality and gives the scholarship committees an opportunity to know them.

The only way students can improve their chances of being selected from a huge pool of applicants competing for scholarships is by writing a stellar personal essay as a part of their application.

The way you write your application essay distinguishes you from the other applicants. It provides information about you that your quantitative data cannot.

The application essay is a result of hard work, often requiring countless drafts and several weeks of writing and rewriting. There are many approaches to writing the essay. There are some people who can sit down for six hours before the deadline and come up with a good essay, while others have to work laboriously for months writing and rewriting before turning in the finished product.

A good essay will distinguish you from the other applicants. Reviewers looks for essays that are consistent and reflect your life experiences, commitment to education and personal characteristics. Sometimes a common experience can also be memorable and influential. You may also decide to write about your knowledge about a certain ethnic groups or about some hardships you overcame. Essays should show the depth of your accomplishment and the quality of your character. It does not depend on what experience you choose to write about as long as it is appropriate and you should elaborate on the insights you have gained from that experience and they way it has influenced your life.

The people on the scholarship committee will be looking for reasons why you would be a good candidate, and why should you be granted the scholarship. Therefore, to present yourself in the best possible light, you could start out by making your essay flawless and following all the standards and requirements.

Your essay should be typed, double spaced, and should preferably use a twelve-point font with a standard font such as Times New Roman, and the margins should be standard size. It is very much preferable if your essay length is within the given limit, but if it is longer make sure it is no longer than ten percent. Try to make your essay as clear and concise as possible. Avoid sloppiness and stylistic errors. Make sure your essay satisfies certain basic requirements; you should pay attention on answering the essay question. Answer the question directly and address all its parts. Your essay should be well organized, logical, written with flow and easy to follow. The tone should be appropriately serious, sincere and modestly confident.

The first step in writing the essay is brainstorming. It is the process of coming up with ideas spontaneously from free flowing writing or talking. To brainstorm, you can simply sit down with a pen and jot down every idea that comes into your head. Another approach is to simply start writing and see where you end up. Record as much information as you can recall, such as schools attended, courses taken, jobs held, research projects undertaken. After you have jotted down the most basic and raw information possible, work on taking yourself deeper into the introspection process by tackling more specific topics.

Once you have completed the brainstorming process, you'll have a rough idea of what you actually want to write about. So after that, you have to select the essay topic. When selecting a topic, you should keep in mind to choose a topic that allows you to demonstrate your skills and individuality, a topic that answers the essay question while telling the reviewers what they really want to know. While deciding on the topic of your application, keep in mind that you have to keep the reader interested while at the same time, revealing something about yourself in a way that makes you an ideal applicant.

After you have selected the essay topic, get down to actual writing. The key to a good essay is revising and re-revising. Revising is an integral part of essay writing and it is only after a great amount of revising that you can come up with an excellent essay. Once the revising is done and over with, you have your final draft before you. Be sure to avoid sloppiness and poor English. Also avoid biases against any religion, sexist comments, whining and politics. And of course, be sure to keep a printed copy of your final draft.

Activity Sheet
As mentioned before, some scholarships committees ask you to provide an activity sheet. An activity sheet is simply a list of all the clubs you have belonged to, all the sports you have played, all the hobbies you have, all the awards you have gotten, all the volunteer work or paid jobs you have done et cetera. Make sure that all of these things are stated clearly on your activity sheet, some committees ask you to list them down in a chronological order while others require you to list these activities down in order of importance. The purpose of the activity sheet is that the scholarship committees want to know how much time you devote to the other things in life and how important extra curricular activities are to you. You should list down all the things that hold importance to you even if they are not organized is proper clubs or committees. The scholarship committees want to know all about your activities.

Some scholarship committees take interviews, usually as a part of the final selection process. This is because the scholarship committees want to meet you to make sure that you are a personification of all the values and activities and academics you have discussed in your application. You can use this interview as an opportunity to talk about your interests and your plans for future education. You should dress formally and arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled. Do not let the interview make you nervous, just remember at all times that all the scholarship committee wants to do is try to get to know you better.

There are many different scholarships and each scholarship has its own specified criteria. However, there are a few factors that are common in most scholarship applications. Those factors are listed below:
# Academic standing (class rank)
# Weighted GPA
# Standardized test scores
# Extra curricular activities
# Submitted essay
# Letters of recommendation
# Financial need
# Work experience
# School and community/civic participation
# Attendance record
# Potential for success
# Higher educational and vocational aspirations
# Written communication skills
# Character strengths (such as motivation, persistence, resourcefulness, etc.)
# Demonstrated skills, aptitudes or experience

As mentioned before, different scholarship committees look for different things. Some scholarship committees might consider your academic records and do not even ask you for your educational aspirations, while others might only consider your financial needs and not ask you for your work experience. Scholarship committees might sometimes only consider one or two of the factors listed above or sometimes, they might consider all of these factors.

Most students seem to believe that the competition amongst people applying for scholarships is so fierce that it is only the most brilliant and outstanding students who are granted these scholarships. And due to this misconception, a lot of students fail to apply for scholarships. The truth is, that scholarships are not awarded to students who are brilliantly outstanding; it is true that some scholarships consider academic brilliance but there are a lot of scholarships that concentrate more on extra circular activities and special talents of students.

Apply to as many scholarships as you are eligible for, and make sure that you complete your application well before the deadline. Have your application proofread before you send it. Good luck!

Scholarship Applications that Win!

Monday, July 9, 2007 1 comments

by Bill Reynolds

Bill, whose son won 10 scholarships, shared seven excellent tips on how to make your scholarship application stand out. I liked his tips so much, I've given them their own page! Many thanks to Bill for sharing his experiences!

Try and have your application arrive EARLY as possible, absolutely not after the deadline date! I like to send applications with a "return receipt requested" or "registered" to make sure they get there. I think that this also conveys a positive characteristic about the sender.

Sample Packet Cover Letter

1111 WinOne Street
Pensacola, Fl 32503
9 September 1999

Mary Smith, President
Whatever Scholarship Committee
Orlando Central Parkway
Orlando, Florida (zip code)

Dear Ms. Smith,

This letter is an introduction of myself, (your name), and my desire to participate in the (whatever it is called) Scholarship Program. I have been accepted to (Name of your College) for the 1999 fall term.

I would like to thank you and the (whatever) Scholarship Committee for supporting college bound students with an opportunity for financial assistance through your scholarship program. Enclosed you will find my application form, high school transcript, ACT results, letters of recommendation, and other pertinent information. Again, thank you for your interest on my behalf and for the youth of our state.


(your name)

While this seems obvious, you must construct your application to make it EASY for the committee to see that you have provided every thing that was required. I like to provide items in the order that they are listed in the application. If possible, do not mix items on the same page. In another tip I am going to tell you to add extra items that were not requested to give your application that something extra. However, DO NOT add extra items if you are specifically told not to add anything extra. This means that you can not follow directions if you add items when your are forbidden to do so.

Tip #4 ADD EXTRA ITEMS TO YOUR APPLICATION (if not forbidden).
This is where you get to be creative to find ways and things that present you in a positive light to the selection committee. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Write a short essay on MY EDUCATION/CAREER GOALS. Try to keep to one page but no more than two.

2. Write a paragraph or two on how this scholarship award will help you reach your education/career goals.

3. My son's guidance counselor gave him a paper that congratulated him on being in the top 10% of his class and acknowledged his hard work to get there. We included this because it put him in a "positive light" and his hard work at his academics was recognized.

4. Before my son reached his 18th birthday, he registered for the Military Draft as required for all males when they reach the age of 18. He received a letter from the draft board congratulating him for doing his civic duty prior to his 18th birthday. You guessed it, this was also one of our "extra items". A lot of scholarship committee members have military backgrounds or see this as good citizenship for this applicant.

5. One of the best extra items is a letter of acceptance for admission to "any" college. If the scholarship application is not for a specific college, you will be able to use the award at "any" college. You do not have to use it at the college you used in your application. Later you can get more college acceptance letters and when your make your selection you can notify the scholarship award committee of where to send the award. Therefore, any letter of acceptance shows that your are serious but it does not "lock" you into using the award at that college.

These are just a few examples to get you thinking. I would limit my extras to three or four at the most. Too many and you "sour" your application. Again, MAKE SURE you are not forbidden to add extra items before you do so.

Be creative to find things that make you look good and share them with the committee.

This is a tip that conveys you took the time to make this application special. When you have a letter of recommendation addressed to the specific organization or person that is administering the application process it says that you took the time and effort to make this letter "Special" for them. If all you have is a letter that starts "To Whom It May Concern", it is better than nothing. But if you can personalize the letter it says you cared to send the very best.

SUB TIP #5a Offer to do the work for the writer of your letter of recommendation. For example, you want to apply to twenty scholarship programs. When you ask someone to write you "1" letter of recommendation they say sure. When you say you need twenty letters they say "sorry" I don't have the time. Once they write you one letter, ask if you can put it on the computer so the TO ADDRESSEE can be personalized for each application and your writer only has to "sign their name twenty times". Now your writer is happy to help you because you have done the work and make it easy for them to help you. If they have nice letter head, ask for blank copies to be used in this process.

SUB TIP #5b This is an "ADD EXTRA ITEM/s" when the application does not require a letter of recommendation.

SUB TIP #5c Try and get three to five letters of recommendation in your files. This will let you pick and choose which one or ones to send in for a specific application. I would never send more than three for an application unless the directions ask for more. I will cover some tips to give your recommendation writer in a later TIP.

When you write anything you must use correct grammar and spelling. If you have a problem in this area ask your English teacher to help you with proofreading your essay, cover letter, extra items you have included, and even letters of recommendation prepared by others. When there are hundreds or thousands of applications to review, correctness and neatness become the first screen out factor. Only when the "pile" is smaller does the content of your application start to become a factor in the selection process.

Now that your application is complete, the final "presentation" tip is to place all of your items in a clear plastic folder, with a slide locking binder. I like the cheap clear ones so that your "Thank You Cover Letter" (Tip #2) is on top. For that final "touch" I also like to include a wallet size picture of the student in the lower left side of your packet. The next item/s in you application packet are those required in the application (Tip #3 Answer the mail). Next I add any extra items (if not forbidden) and finally I place any letter(s) of recommendations.
If "extras" are forbidden, you should consider NOT using a plastic folder, however, this can be a judgement call on your part. Read the application carefully again regarding extras. Some judges feel the plastic folders "give them more work" (to remove the applications from the plastic folder) while others have no problem with it, even though they may forbid extras. I know, this can be confusing!

Your application packet is a great looking presentation of YOU, don't mess it up by folding it to fit a small envelope. Use an 8X10 type envelope so your application arrives looking great. Consider sending it "Return Receipt Requested" so you know it arrived!

Source: FreSch!

Top Ten Tips for Winning Scholarship Applications

Sunday, July 8, 2007 20 comments

-- by Kay Peterson, Ph.D.

Before you submit your scholarship application, check out these tips, provided by scholarship sponsors nationwide.

TIP #1: Apply only if you are eligible.
Read all the scholarship requirements and directions carefully and make sure you're eligible before you send in your application.

TIP #2: Complete the application in full.
If a question doesn't apply, note that on the application. Don't just leave a blank. Be sure to supply all additional supporting material, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation and essays.

TIP #3: Follow directions.
Provide everything that's required. But don't supply things that aren't requested—you could be disqualified.

TIP #4: Neatness counts.
Always type your application, or if you must print, do so neatly and legibly. Make a couple of photocopies of all the forms before you fill them out. Use the copies as working drafts as you develop your application packet.

TIP #5: Write an essay that makes a strong impression.
The key to writing a strong essay is to be personal and specific. Include concrete details to make your experience come alive: the 'who,' 'what,' 'where,' and 'when' of your topic. The simplest experience can be monumental if you present honestly how you were affected.

TIP #6: Watch all deadlines.
To help keep yourself on track, impose your own deadline that is at least two weeks prior to the official deadline. Use the buffer time to make sure everything is ready on time. Don't rely on extensions—very few scholarship providers allow them at all.

TIP #7: Make sure your application gets where it needs to go.
Put your name (and Social Security number, if applicable) on all pages of the application. Pieces of your application may get lost unless they are clearly identified.

TIP #8: Keep a back-up file in case anything goes wrong.
Before sending the application, make a copy of the entire packet. If your application goes astray, you'll be able to reproduce it quickly.

TIP #9: Give it a final 'once-over.'
Proofread the entire application carefully. Be on the lookout for misspelled words or grammatical errors. Ask a friend, teacher or parent to proofread it as well.

Tip #10: Ask for help if you need it.
If you have problems with the application, don't hesitate to call the funding organization.

Visit The Winner's Circle Scholarship Handbook for more expert advice.

Source: FastWeb!

Top Ten Mistakes Made on Scholarship Applications

Saturday, July 7, 2007 23 comments

by Laura DiFiore

How you can guarantee that your scholarship application will NOT win!

Forget to include your name and/or address! You would be surprised how many students do not include their name or address on an application!

Submit an incomplete application. Make sure you include all required references, photos, transcripts, and essays.

Be rude or abusive to the judges. Telling the judges that they will burn in Hades if they don't pick you, or that they are idiots because they don't accept applications from students in your major, is a sure-fire way to guarantee you will NOT be considered for this application, and that the judges will tell all their judge friends how nasty you are.

Submit a dirty application. Use a plate for your lunch, not your application. Don't spill beer on your application!

Apply when you do not meet their minimum requirements. If they require a minimum 3.0 GPA and you have a 1.2 GPA, don't waste your time!

Send it "postage due." Oops!

Mail the envelope but forget to put the application in it. Surprisingly common!

Submit inappropriate supporting documentation, such as including a picture of you at age 6 months when the application asks for you to include a photo, or including a copy of your arrest record as a reference! (this really happened!)

No one can read your application. The use of fancy, hard-to-read script typefaces on your essay, or handwriting that even a doctor would be ashamed of.

Spelling errors! Even ONE spelling error can doom your application! Remember, if you do not take the time to spell-check your application, the judges won't take the time to read it!

YES, I know that these seem like common-sense mistakes, ones that very few students would make... but these ARE the most common mistakes, made by 75% or MORE of all applicants! Last summer, I sat on a judging committee, and fully 96% of the applications contained THREE or more of the above errors. Why so many students make these mistakes is beyond me - but I hope after reading this, you will not be one of them!

Source: FreSch!

Winning the Scholarship Award

Friday, July 6, 2007 0 comments

Searching for and finding scholarships is only the first half of the process. You still need to apply for each scholarship you are trying to win. Applying for scholarships can be time consuming and takes dedication and motivation. But the thousands of dollars you could receive makes the effort worthwhile. Below are some hints to help you apply for and win scholarships.

Be proactive. No one is going to track you down to give you a scholarship; you need to do the legwork yourself. So when you find awards with eligibility criteria that you can meet, contact the provider and request a scholarship application packet. Whether you have to request the application via email, phone or by sending in a self-addressed stamped envelope, do it. There's just no other way to get the ball rolling than to be proactive and assertive in requesting information for yourself.

Be timely. Almost all scholarship providers set deadlines, and you MUST adhere to them. Make sure you have all materials submitted before the deadline. If the scholarship deadline is approaching and you have not yet even received the application packet that you requested four weeks earlier, follow-up with the provider and request the application packet again. You do not want to miss a deadline, as most scholarship providers do not consider late applicants.

Be organized. Good organizational skills can really pay off - literally! Keep your applications ordered by deadline date and give yourself plenty of time to complete them and send them in well before the due date. Keep letters of recommendation and transcripts on hand so you don't have to obtain new ones every time they are required for an application. Make copies of your completed applications before sending them in, and file them in folders labeled with the deadline date and the mailing address and phone number of the scholarship provider. Call before the deadline to see if your scholarship application was received. If it got lost in the mail, (the postal service is not perfect!) you still have an extra copy you can send in.

Be persistent. The scholarship search process doesn't just happen overnight. You must be diligent about looking for new scholarships to apply for. Plan to spend several hours each month reviewing the scholarship programs with deadlines approaching, preparing application packets, and getting the applications in the mail on time. And then the cycle should begin again - finding scholarships, sending away for application information, and applying in an organized, timely manner.

Be positive. Finally, believe in yourself and in your chances of winning a scholarship. Hard work and time spent on the scholarship process will pay off eventually. Keep your chin up and think about how great the reward will be if you can land even one of the scholarships you're trying for! After all, your education depends on it!


Finding Scholarships on the Internet

Thursday, July 5, 2007 0 comments

Expert Advice provided by Scholarship Experts.

Okay, so you are ready to tackle that daunting task of finding scholarships to pay for college. And you want to use the Internet to expedite the search process. But there are so many scholarship search services out there - which ones should you use? How do you know what qualities and features to look for in a scholarship search service? Should you use a fee-based service or a free one? And how do you avoid getting scammed while looking for awards? Use the following guide to determine what to look for and to assist you in finding the service that will best fit your scholarship search needs.

Profile Matches Are Key
First and foremost, find a scholarship search service that has sophisticated matching technology. A good scholarship search service will match the personal information you provide to them with scholarships that you are eligible to apply for. This will minimize the time you spend browsing through lists of awards, and will give you more time to actually work on the application process itself. Beware of simple keyword search services or services that only ask a few questions about your background. Many such services will return hundreds of scholarships for you to wade through, wasting valuable time that you simply don't have. Look for services with easy-to-use, thorough profile pages that generate results closely matched to your profile.

Up-to-Date Scholarship Information
Secondly, find a scholarship search service that provides accurate and up-to-date scholarship information. Reading requirements for scholarship programs from two years ago will not help you at all; in fact, using outdated information will simply slow your progress in actually securing scholarship funding for college. Remember, you need to find a service that offers scholarship information for the current academic year. Don't waste your time on websites with out-dated contact lists, broken application links, and discontinued programs.

The Privacy Policy
Do not become part of a spamming list! When you fill out a profile with a scholarship search service, the service collects and stores your very personal information; such collecting of profile information is necessary for accurate scholarship matching. Make sure you read the privacy policy for any service you use so you know what happens to that personal information once you enter it into the website. Some websites actually make money by selling your information to third parties that want to advertise to you. Be very careful about giving out your personal information to companies without credible, clearly stated privacy policies - the last thing you need is an email inbox full of spam and a mailbox full of unwanted solicitations.

An Easy Process
Make sure the service is set up to save you time. If you take the time to fill out the profile, make sure the information is saved so you don't have to start from scratch each time you want to look for more scholarships. Also, make sure there is a way to edit and update your profile, in case you change your major or improve your test scores or change your mind about the college or university you want to attend. Search services with such customer-oriented features will save you time and frustration in the search process, and that's what you should be aiming for - saving time, avoiding scams, and finding money to pay for college!

For additional information about this topic, visit

Scholarship Search Engine

Wednesday, July 4, 2007 0 comments

by: Vanessa McHooley

Getting scholarships for college is not the hard part - butactually going out and finding scholarships that fit your requirementsis! For years, high school guidance counselors used to suggest possiblescholarships to students or give them large booklets filled withhundreds and thousands of college scholarships. Going through thesebooks and actually finding a scholarship became a task all in and ofitself. With the popularity of the internet though, finding ascholarship for college through a search engine has never been easierand has even been made simpler through the usage of specific searchengines tailored just for college scholarships!

Starting Your Scholarship Search
The first thing to do before using a search engine to findcollege scholarships is to make a list of all of the skills orqualities about yourself that might appeal to someone handing out acollege scholarship. Are you athletic in some sport that some collegesoffer? Do you write poetry that would make Walt Whitman smile? Can youname all of the states in America in alphabetical order in under 2minutes? Chances are, if you have some talent or skill, someone will beoffering a scholarship that could put you into college.

Finding Your Scholarship Matches
Next, go into any search engine and start searching for websites that offer scholarships. You may be able to find entire sitesdevoted to finding and searching for scholarships that are tailoredaround your needs. Try and be fairly specific, as the term"scholarship" is likely to bring up thousands of sites that do notapply to you. If you want a scholarship for those interested inwriting, type in something like "creative writing collegescholarships." This should at least bring up some more options for you.

Apply For The Scholarships Now!
Finally, start applying for scholarships that you find through asearch engine. Sign up for more information from sites that hostadvertisements for various scholarships. These sites will then e-mailyou the latest scholarship opportunities in your field of interest. Thescholarships may be out there somewhere for you. Just make sure to turnto your favorite search engine to find out exactly where they arelocated.

This article is distributed by NextStudent. At NextStudent, webelieve that getting an education is the best investment you can make,and we're dedicated to helping you pursue your education dreams bymaking college funding as easy as possible. We invite you to learn moreabout Scholarship Search Engine at

About The Author
Vanessa McHooley
My goal is to help every student succeed - education is one ofthe most important things a person can have, so I have made it mypersonal mission to help every student pay for their education. Asidefrom that, I am just a pretty average girl from San Diego California.

How to Apply for a Scholarship

Tuesday, July 3, 2007 0 comments

So you have decided to apply for a scholarship lasting one year or longer. This implies a long, difficult and exhausting process. We have put together a time schedule that should help you work your way through the application jungle. Your preparation should start more than one year in advance than the date when you actually want to start your studies. When building this schedule, we have taken into account for reference a university that starts in the autumn (August - October), but many universities around the world admit students also in January and April. In case you are going for one of these dates, please take into account the intervals explained below rather than then the dates provided in this schedule.

Summer, one year in advance

Since you want to study at a university, the first and earliest step should be deciding where you want to study. In some cases, you have friends that went abroad earlier and from the info you have gathered from them and other sources you are certain about the place where you want to study. Happy you. You just saved a lot of work. Let's see what happens if you don't get so lucky. First, you should figure out what subject you want to study, like anthropology, mathematics, etc. It should have some connection with the subject you have studies so far, or have a good argumentation for the change of direction you intend. Also decide the kind of program you want to follow: undergraduate, master's, PhD, etc. If you don't have a master, you still can apply for a PhD directly, but usually your first years of study will be a master. In US, Master's programs (MA - Master of Arts, MSc - Master of Science, differs according to the subject) typically last for two years, while in the UK the program lasts for twelve full months, with the summer reserved for writing your thesis. You will of course meet exceptions from this classification. In both cases you will have to write a thesis as part of the graduation requirements. The MPhil is a degree strongly oriented towards research, usually done as the first part of PhD studies. The MBA - Master of Business Administration - is a graduate business studies program with a strong practical orientation. A few years of job experience are normally required when applying for an MBA.

Once you have identified the subject and the kind of program you want to go to, you can start searching for universities. It will be relatively easy to find on the Internet a ranking of those programs at universities in the US or UK. Such a ranking is useful for two reasons: first, you can use it as an index that directs you to the websites of the programs/universities listed. Second, it gives you a fair idea about how competitive those programs are. The logic is simple: the more competitive those programs are, the more prestigious your title will be. Famous universities are rich, so more money is available for financial aid. On the other hand, competition for admission and financing is tough. You will make the decision that suits you best, but we suggest you a few tips on how to make that choice. Choose more universities, it means more work with the application papers, but it increases your chances. We know cases when students handled up to 20 applications, but over 10 it usually gets tough. Split the ranking in top 10/15 and what's under, and choose universities from both categories. Your scores at the standardized tests should influence the final proportion of universities from each category. Compare your results with those listed as average by the respective programs.

Read carefully the information posted on the websites and application booklets. You will find a lot of reasons to influence your options there. Identify the financial aid possibilities - make sure you are eligible for a number of scholarships that can give you full financing. Check the applications/admitted ration and the scores at the standardised tests to get an idea about competition. Check the classes offered and the research interests of faculty in order to make sure they match your own interests. Last but not least, read about the living conditions in the universities. It might seem this doesn't make much difference when you're applying, but you're applying to get admitted, don't you? Remember, you're going to spend a year or more in that place. You might end up in a campus or in a city-center skyscraper, in the desert or at the ocean, amid corn fields, in a cosmopolitan city or in a rural area. You should chose in such a way the destination that you won't get bored to death in the environment where you are going to study.

A section you should read with special attention is that containing admission information. Find out whether you meet the conditions that make you eligible for the program, and read until you have understood well the admission process. Write on a sheet of paper the deadlines and the tests required, plus any unconventional requirements. In the end, when you have decided upon the programs, make a list with them, the deadlines and application documents. It will help you meet the deadlines and not miss any application documents. You should have this list ready by October, one year in advance from the proposed date of starting the study.

September, one year in advance

Once you have the list with the programs of your choice, you have completed a long, resource-consuming and more difficult than usually considered phase of your application process. Somewhat simultaneously, you should take care of another one: the standardised tests (TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.). Universities use such widely acknowledged tests in order to assess your potential and knowledge in different areas. Tests cost (TEOFL - USD 100, GRE general - USD 125, and so on), and is practically impossible to avoid them. See what tests you need, go on the websites related to those tests, and read about costs, scheduling, scores interpretation, etc. Try a few sample questions, or even mini-tests. If the results don't look to well, it is a good idea to schedule one of the tests in spring, one and a half years in advance of your proposed course of study, in order to have enough time for preparation. Tests tend to be difficult and preparation in advance is strongly recommended. You should start as early as two months before the testing date and dedicate 2-3 hours daily to practice in order to be well-prepared for the test. A good knowledge of English language is required for any of them. Plus, each of the tests will present you with a few types of problems. The main goal of the preparation is to familiarize you with that kind of problems. Some preparation material is available on the Internet, while books tend to be expensive, but generally unavoidable. Essays are part of most of the tests, so practice on writing them as well, and take a look at our guide about how to write a structured essay. After taking the tests, about a month is needed in order to have the scores reported to universities. This means you should have taken the tests until the end of November, since the first big round of deadlines comes in January. The ETS, the organisation running those tests, reports your scores for free at 4 or 5 universities, depending on the test. That is, on the condition that you are ready to specify those universities on the day you are taking the test, so be ready! Attention at TOEFL, universities in US are arranged according to the state, so do some research before taking the exam, unless you want to spend endless time on the computer after taking the test, checking your geography knowledge. Any score reporting after that day costs. You can try to avoid the extra costs, by attaching a copy of your own score reports to the application, and explaining that you cannot afford to pay to have the scores officially reported. Still, in some cases, you will have to do that, eventually.

Scheduling the tests takes time, unless you have a card in international currency. When you apply by mail and use a check to pay, you can't even fix the date, but you only can write a number of dates when you would like to take the test, and the final option will be made by ETS. Allow, therefore, some time for the processing of your request. If you want to take the tests in November, as we recommend, send your check and application around mid-September, at best.

October and November

Once you're done choosing universities, and while you are preparing for the tests, start working on you application essays, including the statement of purpose. They are difficult to write, and almost for sure some intensive re-writing will be needed until you get a good final draft. For detailed advice on writing them, see our sections on how to write a structured essay, and how to write a statement of purpose.


In November, close to taking your tests, talk to the professors about letters of recommendation. Allow them 2-3 weeks to write those letters, but not more, since they might forget. You ask for ten days, but be ready if it takes more. See our guide on how to handle this delicate proceeding.


In December, with your essays almost written in final draft, your tests taken, and the forms for the letters of recommendation given to professors, start filling in the application forms and request transcripts from your current school. Make copies of the application forms and fill those in first, to avoid mistakes. Use a computer, if possible, or write in block capitals. When attaching transcripts, or any other documents originally issued in another language than English, you need to have them translated by an authorized translator and that translation authenticated by a notary. A few tips on this: make the translations yourself, if you feel confident. It will save you time and allow you to try to negotiate a price deduction with translator. Give him/her the original and a floppy disk with the translated document to allow any modifications needed. You can ask the translator to seal the documents with "true and certified translation", and avoid the notary, also saving time and money. Don't do that if the University expressly requires "authenticated translation at a notary". We know one case where the home university accepted to sign transcripts in the English language, making them documents originally issued by the university and which did not need translation. Try your chance with the dean and see if it works. If it does, have each transcript signed and sealed, put in an A4 envelope sealed and signed over the seal, in a way similar to recommendation letters. In case you attach translations after any document, have the translator put the seal on a copy of the original document in your language, and attach this copy to the translation. It will increase the credibility of your application. Pay attention to the number of copies in which the university requests each document and attach the right number of copies.


At the end of December you should have your application ready for those programs which have deadlines in January. Be careful with the way in which the deadline is specified: if it is the date of postage, your application has to be sent by the specified date. In other words, it needs a post seal with the date prior or equal to the date of the deadline. If it is the date if arrival, your application should have arrived at the university until that date and if you are sending it from Eastern Europe to the US, this may last as long as three weeks. Send the package in due time and prepare to restart the cycle for recommendations, essays and application forms for programs with later deadlines.


Once you have the application put together and sent, you might think there isn't much left to do than wait. You still should know what and when to wait. For programs with the deadline in early January, answers can come as early as March. In some cases you will receive a place and financial aid offer, in other the financial aid comes later. Universities send offer letters in waves, so don't get scared if the answer comes later for you than for your friend who applied for exactly the same thing. This does not mean a no, automatically, you can receive offer letters until early summer.

If you get more offers and have to make a decision, first look carefully at the financial aid offer, in order to make sure there are no hidden costs that are not covered, like flight, medical insurance, etc. Or even if they are, that you will be able to cover them somehow. Then, just choose what you would love most to do. Even for when you have received the offers and made a decision we have a suggestion: start your fight with the bureaucracy early. Apply for a visa well ahead of your date of departure, search a place to stay on or off campus, fill in and send quickly any other documents the university asks you to. And, good flight!

Your future just started!


How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Monday, July 2, 2007 0 comments

The CV (resume, in American English) is meant to introduce you and your background to somebody who does not know you and barely has time to get to know you. It should present you in the best possible light, in a concise and well-structured manner. There are plenty of resume-writing guides out there, that can teach you to the smallest details how to write one. Their regular problem is that they do not agree with each other when it comes to details. This is why we have put here together a number of generally agreed guide-lines, plus some specific details that could help EE students. A regular CV for business purposes should definitely not go over one A4 page. If you intend to use it for academic purposes and not for a job, the CV can pass that limit, on the condition that you use the extra space to describe academic activities, like conferences, publications list, etc. A well-written CV shows first what is most important, but contains all relevant information. To this goal, we advise you to adapt it to your target (specific type of job or scholarship). Cut information from your CV only as a solution of last resort, but pay attention to the order in which you present it in your CV.

Print the CV on plain-white A4 paper, save some of the same type for the cover letter - did we say that you should never, but never! send a CV without a cover letter - and find matching A4 envelopes. If the announcement does not say anything about a cover letter, you still should send one. It introduces your CV to the reader, attracts attention to certain parts of it that you want to bring to light, or mentions aspects that for some reason could not be listed in your CV.

To make it look neat, we suggest you use one of the Word pre-made formats, unless you are a computer-savvy and feel confident that you can produce an even better-structured and easier-to-read format. You will be able to introduce you own headers in that format; below we have a word of advice for those most-often met in a CV.

Personal details - here you should include your birth date, contact address, email, telephone number and nationality. In case you have both a permanent and study address, include both, with the dates when you can be contacted at each of them. Personal details can be written with smaller fonts than the rest of your CV, if you want to save space. They do not have to jump in the reader’s attention - you will never convince somebody to hire you because you have a nice email alias! If your CV managed to awaken the reader's interest, he or she will look after contact details - it is important that they be there, but not that they are the first thing somebody reads in your CV. You should write your name with a bigger font than the rest of the text, so that the reader knows easily whose CV is he or she reading. If you need to save space, you can delete the Curriculum Vitae line on the top of your CV. After all, if you have done a good job writing it, it should be obvious that that piece of paper is a CV, no need to spell it out loud.

Objective - this is a concise statement of what you actually want to do. It's not bad if it matches the thing you are applying for. Don't restrict it too much "to get this scholarship", but rather "to develop a career in... " the thing that you're going to study if you get the scholarship. If you apply for a job, you can be even more specific - " to obtain a position in... , where I can use my skills in…". You can use a few lines to describes that specifically, but keep in mind that you should show what you can do for the company more than what the company can do for you. Writing a good objective can be tough; take some time to think about what exactly are you going to write there.

If you, the visitor of our site, are who we think we are - a young student, or a person who has just graduated, you should start your CV with your education. Very probably, at this age it is your most important asset. We suggest you use the reverse chronological order, since it is more important what master’s degree you have rather than that, very probably, you went to high school in your native town. No matter for which order you decide - chronological or reverse - you should keep it the same throughout the rest of your CV. Try to give an exact account of your accomplishments in school: grades (do not forget to write the scale if it may differ from the one the reader of your CV is used to), standing in class (in percent), title of your dissertation, expected graduation date if you think this is an important aspect. There is no need to write all of the above, but only those that put you in the best light. Are you not in the best 20% of your class? Better not to mention ranking then, maybe you still have good grades, or your school is a renowned one. In any case, do not make your results better than in reality - you cannot know how this information may be checked and the whole application will lose credibility. Cheating is a very serious offense in Western schools.

Awards received - you should introduce this header right after the education, in order to outline all the scholarly or otherwise distinctions you have received. Another solution is to include these awards in the education section, but this might make the lecture difficult - the reader wants to get from that section an impression about the schools you went to and the overall results, not about every distinction you were awarded. Still, these are important! Therefore, here is the place to mention them - scholarships, stages abroad you had to compete for, prizes in contests, any kind of distinction. Here, same as everywhere in your CV, write a detailed account of what happened: do not just mention the year and "Prize in Physics", but rather give the exact date (month), place, name and organiser of the competition. For a scholarship abroad, write the time frame, name of the University, Department, the subject of classes there - e.g. managerial economics - name of the award-giving institution, if different from that of the host-university.

Practical experience - here you should include internships as well. Don't feel ashamed with what you did, don't try to diminish your accomplishments! Nobody really expects you to have started a million dollar business if you're still a student - even better if you did, though! Accountability is an important criterion for what you write in this section. The account should show what you improved, where, by how much, what your responsibilities were. The idea is that when you apply for a job you have to show growth-potential. That is, that you proved some kind of progress from one job to another and that especially at the last one you were so good, you could obviously do something that involves more responsibility - like the job you are applying for now. The overall result should portray you as a leader, a person with initiative and creativity - don't forget you have to convince the reader of your CV that you are the best pick for that job.

Extracurricular activities - if you're writing a professional, and not an academic CV, this is the place to mention conferences or any other activities outside the school that for some reason did not fit in the CV so far. A good section here can help a lot towards that goal of portraying you as a leader, a person with initiative, not just a nerd with good grades.

Languages - list here all the languages you speak, with a one-word description of your knowledge of that language. We suggest the following scale: conversational, intermediate, advanced, and fluent. List any certificates and/or results like TOEFL scores, with date.

Computer skills - write everything you know, including Internet browsers and text editing skills. There is no absolute need to know C++ unless you wanna be a programmer or something. List certificates and specialty studies as well.

Hobbies - list them if space is left on the page. They look fine in a CV, showing you are not a no-life workaholic, but a normal person. There is no need to have a 20,000 pieces stamp collection, you can mention reading or mountain tracking as well.

You can introduce other headers that suit your needs. Some CV's, for example, have a summary heading, that brings in front what the author considers to be the most important stuff in his/her CV. A references section, where you can list with contact details persons ready to recommend you can be added as well. If it misses, the recruiters will assume they are available on request.


How to Write a Motivation Letter

Sunday, July 1, 2007 217 comments

The Cover Letter (CL) is the document that accompanies your CV when you are applying for a job. For academic purposes, the document used is typically called statement of purpose, and is laid out after somewhat different rules. The CL is short (200-250 words), with a quite rigid structure and has the layout of a letter. Its goal is to introduce the CV, to bring to attention aspects of your activity that can help your application and are not listed or not presented in the proper light in the CV. In short, its goal is to answer the recruiter's question: "Why should I hire this person?".

Layout. The layout is that of a formal business letter: your address and contact details come under your name, in the upper right corner of the page. Underneath, aligned left, write the name, function, organisation and address of the person you are writing to. It is a lot better to know the name of the person who is going to read your letter. You should address the letter directly to him or her. In the case you do not know the name, an email, a little digging in the net or a phone call should help you get that name, in case it is not mentioned in the official announcement. Under the receiver's address, but aligned right, write the date of the day when you are writing the letter. You should spell the name of the month and use four digits for the year. You can put in front of the date the location, like Sofia, 2nd December 2000.

If you do know the name of the addressee, start with Dear Mr (Mister), Ms (Miss), Mrs (Mistress), Dr (Doctor), without the full stop that you might expect to follow the abbreviation, and the surname of the addressee, followed by comma (Dear Dr Smith,). In this case, you should end the letter with the salutation Yours sincerely. If you do not know the name, start with Dear Sirs, or Dear Sir or Madam and close with Yours faithfully. In American business correspondence, Yours truly is acceptable in both cases. Do not start the body of the mail with a capital letter, since it follows a comma.

Structure. Ideally, a cover letter has no more than four paragraphs. The goal of the first is to specify what you are applying for and how did you find out about that opportunity. The last one outlines your availability for an interview, suggesting in this way a concrete follow-up for your application.

The second paragraph should list your skills and qualifications that make you the right person for the position you are applying for. Read carefully the announcement, identify the requirements and see how your skills match those required. Do not simply state you have them, prove it. Ideally, you should start from your experience and show how you have developed those qualifications by doing what you have been doing/learning. Same as in the case of your CV, the result should portrait you as an independent, creative person that can take initiative and deal with responsibilities, apart from the specific skills needed for the job. In short, the second paragraph should show why you are good for the job.

The third should point out why you want it. You should outline your interest for the skills you are going to learn if you get the job. The impression left should be that you can make a genuine contribution to the company's operations, while simultaneously deriving satisfaction from your work.

After the fourth paragraph leave a blank space, same as you should do in the beginning, after the salutation (Dear). Write the proper closing, as described above and your name. Do not forget to leave a blank space between the closing and your name and to sign the letter in that space.

Enclosure. It is customary for formal letters to mention whether you have enclosed any documents accompanying the letter. Simply mention enclosure, or write curriculum vitae under the heading enclosure at the end of the letter.

Print the letter on A4 white paper same as that on which your CV was printed, and put both documents in an A4 envelope of matching color. If you are emailing it request a notification that your documents have been received. Wait at least two weeks since the day you sent your application or after the deadline before writing again in the case you did not get any answer.


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