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A scholar’s tips for a standout scholarship application

Written by Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International Relations student and Vice Chancellor’s Elite scholarship recipient, Andie-Lee Cilliers.

Grade 12 is busy, stressful, exciting and fun, and the process of applying to university and for scholarships can certainly add to this mix of emotions. However, I’m here to help you ace your scholarship applications.

I graduated high school in 2018, and was in the exact same position you’re in now – stressed about which scholarships to apply for and staring at a blank Word document, unsure of where to start. Thankfully, everything worked out the way it was meant to, and here I am with a year left of my degrees, grateful I made the decision to not only apply to Bond but for scholarships as well.

If you’re thinking of applying for a scholarship at Bond, I couldn’t recommend the university or the process enough – I’ve absolutely loved my time at Bond. Looking back to three years ago, the whole scholarship process really isn’t as scary as it seemed, but in case you need some inspiration (or are just looking for a reason to procrastinate your applications – I know I did!), here are a few pieces of advice from someone who’s lived it.

1. Start early and don’t rush

The best thing you can do for yourself when applying for scholarships is to take it slow. Give yourself some time to reflect on your academic past, whether that’s high school or other tertiary studies you’ve already undertaken. This might sound like a silly tip, but I promise it’s worth it – you will have done and achieved much more than you think; it’ll just take some time to really uncover it all. I’ve been at Bond just over two years (just a fraction of the time we spend in high school) and because life gets so busy, I often forget the things I’ve done.

Starting your scholarship application early will give you time to think, make changes and add elements as you go. Make sure that you’ve got ample time to draft, redraft and redraft again, because it’s important that your application is as professional and effective as possible. If you’ve finished early, don’t rush to submit just because your everyday life is super busy – the more time you give yourself, the better your application will be.

2. Be strategic

Your scholarship applications are an opportunity to put your best foot forward – every decision you make should be strategic and show off why you’re the best candidate. For instance, pick strategic references by selecting someone who knows you well and can talk to your skills and personal attributes.

Another thing that I’ve learned during my time at Bond is to use the STAR method, especially during written responses and interviews. For those of you not familiar with this method, STAR stands for ‘Situation, Task, Action, Response’ and is a preferred way of structuring your response to questions about yourself, your work ethic and your experience. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Situation – Describe the specific situation you were in (context, background etc.).

Task – Explain the task that is central to your response. For example, if the question is ‘tell me about a time where you displayed effective problem-solving skills’, discuss the task that presented the problem in the first place.

Action – Outline the actions that you took to resolve the situation. Using the problem-solving example, explain what you did to resolve the issue that arose as part of your task.

Result – Finally, conclude with the results of the actions you took and how they resolved the situation or challenge at hand.

The STAR method ensures you’ve answered the question posed to you thoroughly, that you’ve given appropriate context and, best of all, shows off your unique skills and how you implement them to address a variety of situations.

Our 2021 Advocacy Director and Bond Student Ambassador Andie-Lee shares her Bond experience.

3. Be confident!

Your scholarship application is a chance to sell yourself and highlight your achievements, but also to show how you’ve grown or overcome difficulties. Each of us has our own unique experiences and stories, so be confident about sharing what makes you stand out. Incorporate your own individual experiences into your application so it’s well-rounded and paints a picture of who you are as not only a student, but a person.

4. Ask for help if you need it

One of my top tips is don’t be afraid to ask for help with your scholarship application. Sometimes it helps to sit down with your parents, siblings, friends or even your favourite teacher to get some inspiration. This can also jog your memory of various achievements and attributes, and often, the people who love and support you will speak far more encouragingly and kindly of you than you do about yourself. It also helps to ask people to proofread your application; fresh eyes will ensure your application is free of mistakes and that you’ve covered all your bases. 

5. Be authentic

Even though scholarship applications are about selling yourself, it’s still important that you communicate who you are in an authentic way. The scholarship process is a way for your prospective university to find out who you are and get to know you, both within the scholarship criteria and more generally. Try to make it personal, but also ensure what you’re saying is always relevant to the question or the scholarship overall. Don’t write what you think would sound good – just be you!

6. Don’t limit yourself

There are a range of scholarships offered at Bond, so chances are you might be eligible for more than one! It’s crucial that you do your research and apply to as many as possible, because you never know which one might be the right fit for you. Just remember to check your eligibility and the closing dates so you never miss an opportunity!

Of course, it’s important to remember that if you don’t get a scholarship, it’s not the end of the road for you – there are always other options! Try to enjoy the process and learn as much as you can, because the skills you’ll develop throughout will come in handy in the future. I hope that my tips help you with preparing an incredible scholarship application, and that you’re feeling ready to embark on this exciting process. Good luck!

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