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How to Get a Scholarship

Are you wondering to yourself: How can I get a scholarship? After figuring out where in the world you want to study, we know that the you will be looking for scholarships tips and funding information. So, we’ve compiled an article with everything you need to know about how to get a scholarship.

Aug 23, 2022
  • Study Abroad
  • Student Tips
How to Get a Scholarship

Are you wondering to yourself: How can I get a scholarship? After figuring out where in the world you want to study, we know that the you will be looking for scholarships tips and funding information. So, we’ve compiled an article with everything you need to know about how to get a scholarship.

1. Focus on best-fit scholarships for you

The first thing to know in terms of the best ways to get a scholarship is to look for study abroad scholarships that you qualify for and sound like a good fit for. There are many scholarships you can apply for, but most are competitive. There are also many different kinds of scholarships that you may apply for. For example, scholarships in the United States might be awarded for academic merit, or could be awarded as an athletic scholarship.

Make sure that you reserve your time and effort for scholarship applications that you have the best chance of winning, and spend remaining time casting the net wider for less likely fits.

2. Speak to the values of who is awarding the scholarship

When you’re thinking to yourself, ‘How can I get a scholarship?’, make sure you’re also asking yourself, ‘What do the scholarship providers want to see from me?’ Our scholarship tips can’t give you the key to the heart of the institution offering the scholarship, so do your research!

At the top of the list of the best ways to get a scholarship is to convey that you’re a student who is an ambassador for the best attributes of the university, organization, or company offering the scholarship. Check out their mission statements to see what they hold dearest and look for examples of how you live and breathe these values to include in your essay.

3. Share your vision for the future

Study abroad scholarships will make a meaningful difference to many students in their personal lives, but few students are able to articulate how this scholarship will help them make meaningful differences in the world.

Whether it’s making a change in academia, NGOs, the national government, the private sector, or your hometown, you need to explain your “why.” So, one of our scholarship tips is to figure out what drives you forward and how it is special. If you’re struggling to frame this, take a look at our article on studying abroad and global citizenship or Simon Sinek’s lecture for leaders on how to start with the “why” to inspire others to get invested in your mission.

4. Carefully follow the scholarship essay prompt

One of the most important things we will tell students when asked: How can I get a scholarship? is to look closely at a study abroad scholarship’s criteria and essay prompt. The criteria are not random and are designed to help the right student match up with the values we want to promote in the world.

Many of our applicants ignore the essay question and are immediately disqualified. Even though you might be an outstanding candidate in other areas, reading and following the essay prompt is necessary for success.

An additional point on our list of scholarship tips is to strategically reuse parts of your scholarship essays to save some time. However, be sure to customize the essay meaningfully to address the essay prompt.

5. Don’t be afraid to share how challenges have shaped you, but make sure that you don’t just list hardships

Having a passionate reason to pursue your studies abroad is fantastic and most appreciate that emotion can help drive you towards your goals.

It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes an essay focusing on the difficulties you’ve faced can overshadow what you’re being asked to write about. Again, one of the best ways to get a scholarship is to tailor your answers to the prompt.

For example, in our Study a Master’s in Europe scholarship we ask “Why did you choose your study abroad country, and how will it help you grow as a globally-minded leader?” Some of our most compelling finalists had faced personal hardship or witnessed terrible effects of issues facing their community, country, or the world. This lit a fire in them to choose a program and country where they could improve their knowledge and give back to the world. They discussed how they plan to act on challenges through the public, private or non-profit sectors.

When you focus on the passion that your life challenges have ignited in you, you will be able to show the scholarship-giver how you will positively influence the world.

6. A scholarship application is not a CV

When learning about how to get a scholarship, it is crucial to know the difference between a scholarship application and a CV or resume. Sadly, some students who our ideal candidate attributes of being “academic achievers” and “involved in extracurricular groups” used their application essay only to give a chronological history of their grades, volunteer work, and career history.

After reading their scholarship essays, we still had no idea of whether they were globally-minded or how their program and country of choice were going to make a difference. One of the best ways to get a scholarship is to weave your experience into a narrative that tells your application-reader who you are, not just what you’ve done.

7. Follow the submission instructions to make sure your scholarship application makes it through the first round

Another simple yet often-missed factor when students are learning how to get a scholarship is to follow all submission directions from the start. Using the correct file format, attaching the correct documents, and making sure that you’ve hit the correct word count are all important scholarship tips for ensuring that your scholarship application qualifies to be considered.

A few minutes of time can make sure that your application is not disqualified.

8. Mind the details for a professional-looking application

While many scholarship awarding committees will not disqualify you for a typo or misspelling (we do not include this in our rubric), it’s still a great idea to have a trusted friend, family member, classmate, or mentor read over your application to give you feedback.

We also recommend choosing an easily readable font if one is not specified, and not getting too creative with images unless they are permitted and speak to the message behind your application.

For example, including photos of your volunteer work, or a photo with you presenting an academic project could bring your essay to life.

9. Make your scholarship essay unique

Another tip to learn about how to get a scholarship is to be personal and transparent in your application. Academic scholarships are extremely competitive with many applicants offering a good reason to be chosen. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd!

For example, if you’re pursuing a Master’s to further your dream of helping Mexico preserve its native bee population, don’t be shy about telling how you got interested in the first place. Scholarship reviewers would love to hear more about how your passion began and has developed over the years, and sharing these kinds of details will help you stand out from the crowd.

Just in case we need to mention it, be sure that your application is honest and the words you use are your own. Most scholarship committees have access to anti-plagiarism software, and the references you provide as well as the follow-up interviews that you do are important to confirming your honesty. Being dishonest is an easy way to completely disqualify your application.

10. Don’t miss your deadline!

The most important bit of information on how to get a scholarship is to make sure that you apply on time! Scholarships are typically run on firm deadlines. You may not think about it, but the administrative procedures necessary to review thousands of applications, choose finalists and ultimately a winner will mean that an application cycle will be closely choreographed.

If you’re applying for multiple study abroad scholarships, It’s important to keep track and schedule of all of the scholarships you’ll apply for in order to complete and submit applications before the deadlines. Although some scholarship awarders might be flexible and accept applications a few hours or days after the deadline, others will not be.

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.