Guest post: Isabel Ara López
When deciding who to grant a scholarship to, scholarship evaluation boards have a lot of information to take into consideration. In some cases, the decision will be based on academic excellence (high grades, language skills, good overall academic skills and record) or on economic factors (low income, family difficulties).
In many cases, you are required to attach a scholarship application cover letter, in which you should explain why you are applying for this specific scholarship and how it could help you achieve your education and career objectives. This is one of the best tools you can use to make your scholarship application a success, together with the correct submission of any other required documents. Here are some tips on how to write a compelling scholarship application cover letter.
1. Explain why you’re a good match for the scholarship
The scholarship application cover letter is an opportunity to outline your main strengths from an educational and professional perspective, your plans for future career growth, why you would be suitable for this scholarship, and how you would benefit if selected. Make sure you cover all of these points, using specific examples where possible.
2. Establish a formal tone, use a clear structure and check spellings
The cover letter should be written in a formal tone, and have a clear, concise, structured flow. Each applicant should also make sure to check for and correct any accidental spelling or grammar mistakes. To make sure you submit a successful cover letter, ask another person, with an objective eye, to read it before sending. This will minimize the risk of any spelling or grammatical errors, and can also help you eliminate any information that is unclear, redundant or irrelevant to what you are asking for.
3. Match your cover letter to the context
There are various situations of scholarship applications in which you would be requested to attach a cover letter. You may, at the same time, be applying for admission to an institution or a program. Or you may be requesting a grant or scholarship to cover tuition fees or other costs for a program you have already been admitted to.
If your letter is intended for the initial case, you should start with a formal address and greeting, followed by a short paragraph presenting your academic skills, achievements and strengths. The following paragraph should explain the reasons you would need a scholarship to fund your studies. The third paragraph should talk about how the specific program, course or project you are applying for will help you achieve your objectives, and how you can contribute during your studies. Do not forget to close with a formal, polite farewell.
If the letter is requesting funding for a program you have already been accepted to, there are a few aspects you should consider. The introduction should be similar to the structure above, emphasizing your academic skills. In the second paragraph you should emphasize your financial condition, and the reasons why you need the funding. In a third paragraph you can explain your interest in studying at that specific institution and how much you will be able to benefit from it.
In such cases, the institution may actually provide you with guidelines for the information to be included in the scholarship application cover letter, such as income data, career background etc.
To conclude the scholarship application cover letter is meant to highlight your strengths, academic skills and goals, and you should ensure you fully communicate all of these in order to ensure your success.
Get more tips on how to write a winning scholarship essay here.
You can browse our various scholarship listings here, and QS also offers its own scholarships.
Isabel Ara López is a Spanish journalist, graduate of the University of Navarra in 2002, and currently working with the team at BecasEstudio, a website dedicated to providing information about scholarships for bachelor’s, master’s and MBA programs. The portal also provides information on how to apply for scholarships, how to improve your studies,and how to prepare for job interviews after graduation.
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What to Say Along with the Resume?
If you think that you can just send out copies of your resume to all your preferred companies then sit back and wait for them to call or email, you’re mistaken. You need to write a cover letter to send out along with each resume. This will complete the statement that says, “I want to work for you.”
Ask every manager experienced in dealing with those seeking jobs in Singapore, and they’ll tell you the same thing: the cover letter is a must. Fail to provide one, and your chance of getting one of the more desirable Singapore jobs will go down considerably.
Don’t worry, it’s not hard at all. You just have to follow a tried and tested format:
First part (one paragraph): your purpose in writing.
Obviously, you are writing because you want to apply for a job. But there’s a little more to it than that. For example, you can mention a professor, friend or relative who referred you to the manager.
My Economics professor, Mr. Lee Chen, strongly recommended that I apply for a job in your department. Thus, I am now writing you in the hopes that I may become a part of your team.
This type of opening paragraph will pique the interest of your recipient, knowing that you have a common acquaintance.
Another approach is to indicate where you learned about the opening in question.
I am writing in response to your ad in jobsDB.com.sg, which states that you are looking for an entry-level architectural draftsman. I am very much interested in this position, as I have just completed my degree in BS Architecture at National University Singapore.
When the manager reads an introduction like this, he’ll know right off that you’re not a “shot-in-the-dark” applicant, that you took the time to do your homework.
Second part (two or three paragraphs): what you have to offer.
This is where you prop yourself up with your qualifications. If you are responding to a specific “want” ad, state how your skills, abilities and background make you a suitable candidate to fill the needs of the company.
I am especially interested in working in your firm because I finished degrees in both Finance and Law. Since your outfit specializes in taxation laws, I believe my background qualifies me for the job.
Again, the manager will see that you have done your homework, this time by researching on his company beforehand.
The second part is also an opportunity to expound a bit on some of the points in your resume that you could not expound on for lack of space. Just be sure not to repeat words from the resume verbatim.
During my two years as Sports Editor of our school organ, I conducted interviews with professional athletes and other prominent sports personalities who are alumni of our university. Hence, it was during my stint that the student body first got to read about these personalities in our school newspaper.
Once the manager gets to read the attached resume, he’ll see a broader picture of the bullet points you have included there. Definitely a plus for you.
As an option, you may also include special skills or traits which, though not really needed for the job, may be relevant in some way.
I was an active member of our community art club, and did most of the poster designs for our activities. I believe that as Marketing Assistant, I will be able to put this skill to good use when evaluating our ad agency’s creative output, particularly layouts.
This falls under the “little things” category. But as they say, little things can make a big difference down the line.
Third part (one or two short paragraphs): how you will follow up, and final thank you.
Once you’ve let the manager know who you are and what you can do for him, your next step is to indicate how you intend to follow up, and close with a thank you. If you indicate that you will call, set the date and time. Or you could indicate a time frame, like “within the next three days” or “either Monday or Tuesday next week.” Whatever the case, follow your set schedule strictly. Be aware, though, that some employers prohibit calls of this nature. Do your research. These companies explicitly state these rules on their websites. When in doubt, ask around.
With such companies, there’s nothing you can do but wait. Revise your final paragraphs to a simple “I look forward to hearing from you” and a closing thank you.
Below is a good sample cover letter:
Dear Mr. Davis,
I am writing in response to your advertisement in jobsDB.com, stating that your agency has openings for entry-level Account Executives.
I have just graduated with honors from Duquesne University with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, which I believe makes me a strong candidate for a position in Stellar Advertising.
Your ad states that you are in need of people with strong leadership and analytical skills. As President of the Duquesne Marketing Association for two years, I was able to implement professional enrichment activities for students, a first at the school level. I also got straight A’s in my nine units of Market Analysis, and won first prize at the State Marketing Plan Open Competition. Aside from my leadership and analytical skills, I also have a strong thirst for knowledge, as evidenced by the number of seminars and workshops I attended while still in college.
I would like very much to begin my career in Marketing with your agency, and I am confident that I can make a solid contribution as part of your Account Management team at Stellar Advertising.
I have enclosed my resume, and will call within the next week to see if we might arrange a schedule for an interview.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
That’s it. Just one intro paragraph, three body paragraphs, and two closing paragraphs. Looks simple enough, but you have give each of these parts careful thought. Make a good cover letter, and it will stand out among the piles and piles of mail your prospective employer receives every day. And you’ll ultimately get closer to getting one of those ideal jobs Singapore has to offer you.
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