I am constantly getting DMs about scholarships and how to go about the whole process. I often review people's essays too and half the time it's not that people aren't good enough but its how you sell yourself. I am going to do a mini thread on how to write scholarship essays.
First of all, make Google your friend. There are no secret sites or links. Just by typing "scholarships for Zimbabweans" into google, you will find quite a number. Check due dates and eligibility criteria etc so that you don't spend time working unnecessarily.
Often if you are continuously searching you will know which sites always post opportunities. My favourites are Opportunity Desk and Twitter user @MomentsWithBren.
Once you have shortlisted start. Again google is your friend. Research what the scholarship is about, the university, alumni, the city etc. These are the things you will need to strengthen your application.
Read the essay questions and understand them. E.g. "Reflecting on your life so far, tell us your story and how this fits with the selection criteria for this Scholars Program". Take note of the keywords. They want a story and also your story has to fit within this specific prog.
I understand the default story is the usual sob story of how you walked barefoot throughout high school and studied with candles. While that is such a touching story, does it fit the selection criteria? Be careful of saying things that you haven't been asked.
If the scholarship is looking for transformative leaders, then your story should focus on that. Simple feasible things like how you started a small book club with 6 children from your street. How you used your social media influence to crowdfund sanitary pads for poor girls....
What influenced you to do this? What have been the results? You have been helping 6 kids learn how to read and one of them got a better report card compared to the last term. It's relatable and measurable too.
Even if the scholarship wants to sponsor those who cannot afford fees, many times you don't. How many of you have £40 000 lying around to fund a postgraduate study in the UK? Most people even kill their parents and lie about being hungry when in actual fact they cant afford.
When writing your essays, be specific. General responses are a sign that you either did not do something or you are just writing for the sake of it. You volunteered somewhere..tell us when, how, why and how it fits in the selection criteria
They ask you why you chose the program/the uni/the scholarship. Talk about the university rankings, the city, notable alumni, diversity etc. You wouldn't be able to write these things if you don't research.
Lastly, remember to take time to do your essays. If you read it and it sounds stupid, it probably is stupid. Have others review your work. Do not be unnecessarily poetic and always answer the question. Your responses should be feasible, measurable and relatable.
If I left out some stuff feel free to ask. Asante.
You can follow @Ndi_Sandra.
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