Competitive scholarships, such as Commonwealth Scholarship or Chevening Scholarships, receive many applications, often more than 30 per each available place.
To make sure your application has a good chance of getting shortlisted it is good to do additional research before hand:
- What are the deadlines? No late applications will be considered.
- What are the additional conditions? e.g. Do you need to have an offer from a University at the time of application?
- What are the scoring criteria? These are often published on the relevant websites.
- Apply to all relevant scholarships schemes you can find to maximise your chances.
Think carefully what evidence you can provide that you are the best candidate to be selected, this might include:
- Top class degree outcome (e.g. UK Undergraduate First class degree or equivalent), due to high competitiveness, students with lower class degrees are much less likely to be shortlisted.
- Further qualifications (e.g. a Master's degree), be careful here, some scholarships do not allow student with a Master's degree to apply for another Master's, for others you have to demonstrate that the new degree will provide a developmental opportunity.
- Other relevant experience, e.g. work placements, employment, study abroad
- Scientific and other publications, have the results of your research project(s) been published in a peer reviewed journal? Top applicants usually have two or more publications, sometimes in recognised international journals. Provide full references and links, so the referees can access and read your publications.
- Awards; this could include competitions (e.g. a Chemistry Olympiad) and awards for performance e.g. awards for Best Student in a Module, Best Student in a Year, Best Graduating Student etc. Extracurricular awards are also relevant (e.g. volunteering, sports, employment etc).
- Previous funding and scholarships; have you won any competitive funding? This could include funding for conference attendance, funding for a summer research project, partial or full scholarship for your degree study, etc.
- Ranking, have you graduated in the top 1%, 5%, 10% of your year group? What was the size of the cohort?
- Make sure not to miss out any relevant information.
- Make sure that your references corroborate information you have given in your application e.g. the reference from your University tutor should confirm any academic awards you have received, ranking within the year group, etc.
Many scholarship applications will ask you for a personal statement and the future career plans.
Make sure your personal statement explains your motivations; why do you want to study at Warwick? What difference will it make to you and to the others, e.g. your community?
Be realistic in your future career plans. Saying your ambition is to win a Nobel prize is great, but it is a fairly unlikely scenario. Having, maybe less ambitious, but more well researched career plans will score much higher with the reviewers e.g. rather than saying you will become the future Minister of Science or that you will set up a new University or a Research Institute, do some research on what the problems are in your country or community and how you can help addressing those as a Chemistry Master's graduate.
Some scholarship applications will ask you more details about your personal circumstances (e.g. financial situation, health, disability etc.) as some scholarships aim specifically to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Be honest, do not exaggerate, but also do not miss out details that you might find embarrassing. The scholarship applications are confidential and they will only be seen by the nominated assessors.
Ask for advice and ask someone to check and proof read your application. Have other students from your University/community successfully applied for a scholarship? Has your tutor/supervisor have experience with scholarship applications?
Scholarships are incredibly competitive, you will be competing against some of the top students, so even if you are the best student in your university, your application might not be successful, if there is another applicant from another university who scored just fractionally higher. Apply again and apply to more than one competition to maximise your chances. Try to improve your application if you are applying the following year e.g. get your research published, put yourself forward for awards, highlight your other achievements since your original application.
Scholarships are aimed to attract the best students from around the world and look for well rounded individuals. Just having a top degree is often not enough, try to show as many of the criteria listed above as possible. If you struggle with this, it might be a sign that you are not yet ready to submit an application, you can work on improving your experience and qualifications and apply the following year.
We wish you all best of luck with your applications!