6 top tips for applying for a scholarship

6 top tips for applying for a scholarship

Before you press the ‘send’ button, read this essential guide on how to apply a scholarship, from tailoring your application to asking for feedback before you submit.

1. Do your research

Do lots of research to find out what’s on offer. There is no single place where you can find all the information you’ll need, but our course search and scholarship tool is an excellent starting point. It’s also worth checking out your local British Council website and those of the institutions you’re interested in applying to.

2. Check the eligibility criteria

Check the eligibility criteria carefully to ensure you fit the scholar profile. Some eligibility requirements will be the same across different scholarships or bursaries, but not all. Pay attention to the details, and only spend time applying for things you are eligible for. No matter how good your application is, if you don’t meet the key criteria, you will not be considered and – in many cases – your application will not be read.

Female teacher sits with male student at a laptop.

‘Plan ahead to meet all the milestones on your application journey’ .

3. Consider timelines

Be organised. Keep on top of your deadlines for funding, courses, and even visas. Plan ahead and make sure that you have all of the timelines in one place that makes sense to you so that you can meet all of the milestones that you have to on your application journey.

It’s also worth setting yourself ‘internal’ deadlines to account for anything that might delay the application process. For example, you may need to wait for referees to prepare references or to find someone to read over your application with enough time for you to make any changes.

Female student sitting on a bench on her laptop at UCL with a blurred background.

‘Make an effort to understand the needs and requirements of each university’.

4. Write tailored applications for each scholarship

Always tailor your application based on the unique questions and requirements each scholarship provider asks for. Make an effort to understand, in detail, what is needed for each application. Although some may seem similar, they will never be exactly the same.

It will take a little extra time and effort, but it will increase your chances of getting funding. High-quality, tailored applications will stand out from those which have clearly been copied and pasted and don’t directly meet what the people reviewing applications have asked for.

Be very honest about your motivations for studying that particular course in that institution. What interests you about them, and what would you want to do with your UK degree in the future? Think specific, and think ahead. People will notice.

A student getting support from someone they trust.

5. Seek assistance before you submit

Wherever possible, seek out someone trustworthy to help advise you on your application and proofread it before you submit it. You could ask friends, teachers or anyone else who you trust will be able to help you.

There are other options too. Beyond your immediate network, you could reach out on LinkedIn to a current or former scholar from the scholarships or universities you are applying to and ask them to read your application and give you any feedback. They will also have direct insight into what people reading applications are looking for as they have already been through the process.

Two students at an arts university with their thumbs up.

‘Just go for it. Things happen when we push for them’.

6. ‘Just go for it’

Isabela Nieto from Mexico, a GREAT scholar who did her master’s in Political Economy at the University of Essex in 2021-22, said:

‘When I learned about the possibility of being a GREAT scholar I thought there was a very small chance that I’d get it. But I decided that if I didn’t try I would never know. The ‘why not?’ was my main driver. The no was already there, so I thought I might as well take my chances.’

She added:

‘It’s normal to think that there are many people who are more deserving of certain opportunities and certain awards but you might be surprised. [Scholarships] can open doors that we never imagined existed. So, just go for it. And, if you don’t get exactly what you’re looking for there are always other options and different ways to meet our goals. Things happen when we push for them.’

A large group of students throwing their degrees into the air.

‘Scholarships can open doors that we never imagined existed.

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