Scholarship Fails

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Scholarship fails? Why so negative?

We often write about how to succeed in applying for a scholarship and give you great tips on how to write the best scholarship application essays, but what about scholarship fails? They deserve some attention too, because we learn from our mistakes and we can learn from others’ mistakes as well. So what went wrong and caused a student not to get a scholarship he or she applied for and was really hoping to get? What do you need to do to prevent scholarship fails?

scholarshipfail Scholarship Fails


As we live in an age of lists, here is a list of 10 things that went wrong and caused the scholarship fail:

1. You don’t qualify for the scholarship

Every scholarship has very specific requirements. There is no use applying if you don’t meet the requirements, because you are up against a ton of students who do. For instance:  don’t bother applying if they require a straight-A student and you generally get C’s. Or of a scholarship is for women and you re a guy. Or if the scholarship is for post-grad students and you’re studying a diploma. There are many more examples of course. It’s just not going to happen, and you’ll be wasting your time.

2. You forgot to research all the options

It takes time to prepare a good scholarship application, and the first step is research. You need to know all the options available to you and get as much information as you can on what each scholarship is looking for.

Almost every university and college has some kind of scholarship or bursary system – usually based on merit and always very competitive.

3. You only applied for one or two scholarships

That’s just never enough! When it comes down to scholarship applications, it’s the more, the merrier. That gives you more chance of success. Applying to only a very few definitely belongs on the list of scholarship fails. We know it takes up a buck load of your free time, but if you want the money, you need to do the work.

4. You left it until the last minute

Oooo, big mistake! After doing your research, you need time to get organized. Find some appropriate referees and let them know what you need them to do and say. Arrange for the required documentation such as transcripts – they may need to be certified. There’s no point in sending off the application unless it is complete, so don’t run the risk of forgetting something important.

5. You missed the deadline

You’ll be surprised to hear how much this actually happens. Every scholarship has a different deadline, so don’t assume they all fit to the same intake schedule. Once that deadline passes, that’s it. All your hard work was for nothing. And if you do submit it late, it doesn’t reflect well on your organizational abilities, so you’re still don’t have a chance to win.

6. You didn’t answer the question

Not reading the questions well and writing about whatever you please is among the biggest of scholarship fails.  The scholarship committee has designed the questions to find out whether you have the abilities they are seeking. If you fail to follow the specific directions or answer the questions fully, the committee assume you have just submitted the same copied and pasted application to every scholarship. Straight to the bin, I’m afraid.

7. You fell for a scholarship scam

That sounds awful doesn’t it? You didn’t win the scholarship because it never actually existed. Beware of online sites offering ‘guaranteed’ scholarships for a small fee, or agencies that want your bank information or money in advance. You should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. So don’t do it.

8. You lost your audience on the first page

Don’t turn your application into a big snooze fest. If you’re applying for a post-graduate or research grant, don’t assume your reader will understand every technical detail of your planned PhD. Avoid the jargon and acronyms – unless you’re willing to explain them. Ask yourself, would my mum understand it? And if you’re not sure, get her to read it first.

9. You forgot to check your grammar

Your application can be the best story ever, but if it’s full of mistake it reflects really bad on you as a student. Some committee will put your application on the reject pile if it has just one spelling mistake. It needs to be perfect, and it demonstrates your language ability too.

10. You didn’t get it proof-read

Ask a grammar crazy friend or family member (preferably both) to check it over for spelling mistakes, structure and whether the questions are answered. It’s also good to show it to your referees, as they’ll then know what abilities to emphasize if they are asked for a referral.

With this list of scholarship fails, you should be well prepared not avoid all of them and write a good, clear, comprehensive winning scholarship. And of course there is always more to read about scholarship fails and how to make sure you don’t make any.

Lots of good luck to you!

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