Before spending too much time on an application, find out when it is due! Missing a bursary deadline is a major no-no and a surefire way to be turned down. Once you figure out what the deadline is, mark your calendar, review the requirements and map out how much time it will take to complete the application so you aren’t rushing and possibly missing that date. Even if your claim to fame is working well under pressure… this is not the time to do it. Besides, the further you get into your university career, the more important it will become to be deadline-driven so you might as well practice punctuality now.
Not Answering the Essay Question
It’s time to step away from those high school essays on which you wrote around the question, and start following the guidelines and being direct! Don’t be generic and don’t beat around the bush. Bursaries are intended to fund your higher education, during which you will be required to answer a lot of questions. This is a perfect time to hone in on your essay writing skills and really ask yourself what the prompt wants.
Additionally, if you are applying for many different bursaries, you may see some similarities in the essay prompts and want to “recycle” your hard work. Don’t let temptation get the best of you! Bursary committees are looking for applicants to directly address the question they were asked, so don’t be lazy by sending off an essay that you wrote for another committee. Each program is different with varying requirements, so each essay should be tailored to the bursary you’re after. Trust us when we say that they will know if you reused an essay. If you aren’t sure whether you have covered your grounds, ask someone to review the question and your essay to be certain that you addressed it properly.
Not Applying for Enough Bursaries
You aren’t going to win them all, and the ones you do win may not be enough to get you by. This is not to be cynical, but to be realistic. There are thousands and thousands of students vying for the same reward, so even if you have the utmost confidence that your application will be among the best, the chances of winning remain small… especially for the bigger bursaries that grant larger sums and to more individuals. You should apply for several bursaries, even if the application process is tedious or if you think your chances are slim. You should also diversify your pool, applying to popular bursaries as well as smaller, perhaps lesser known bursaries. Even if the reward is small, you’ll have applied to and possibly won a few other small ones that could add up to a sizable amount of funding.
Paying for Money
Don’t fall for bursary scams. If a bursary company offers to do all the application work for you for a “small price,” it is not legitimate. You’re asking for a donation of sorts, so why should you pay anything for it? If you are asked to provide credit card or banking details, if you are being rushed, if you don’t have to do any work, or if they claim you won a bursary you never even applied for… major red flag. Check out our post about bursary scams to learn more about how you can avoid them.
Not Checking Your Work for Errors
Word count or range limitations, spelling mistakes, poor grammar, sloppiness – this all falls under the error category. Like the essays you’ve written in school, checking your application from top to bottom before submitting is of the utmost importance. You are trying to prove that you deserve money to continue your education, so forgetting to edit your application may come off like you don’t care enough to do it right – which will definitely leave a bad taste in your committee member’s mouth. Think about it: if it came down to two applications that are basically identical in terms of quality and eligibility, but one has typos while the other reads perfectly… who do you think they’re going to pick? Ask a friend, family member or even an advisor with an eye for detail to proofread your essays AND application forms before you send them in.
Not Asking for Recommendations
You can speak volumes about yourself, but the word of a trusted professor, employer or mentor may go even further. Even if a bursary application doesn’t require that you include a recommendation, you should include one anyway. It shows initiative and could be the icing on your application’s cake.
Not Checking Your Eligibility
While we encourage you to apply for many different bursaries, we discourage you from applying to every bursary you stumble upon. There are thousands of bursary categories out there. There are those for people of a certain ethnicity, those going into university declared as a specific major, those who maintained a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) throughout high school, and more. Imagine applying to a program not knowing that it requires a 3.8 high school GPA but your average was a 3.4. You wouldn’t be considered, and you would have wasted your time. As mentioned, the application process can be very time-consuming, so be cognizant of each program’s requirements before submitting your case.
The application process may seem grueling but think about how much better you will feel when you get a letter stating that you have been rewarded funds to attend university! Keep these “don’ts” in mind as you prepare to apply! Good luck!