May 18, 2024

Scholarships: How To Increase Chances Of Getting One

(This article was first published on the New Vision website on March 31, 2023)

By Agnes Kyotalengerire

New Vision has published a University Guide with information that can help students joining university to find the right institution and start their academic journey through higher education with success.

Agnes Kyotalengerire shares tips on how to increase your chances of getting a scholarship.

Fulfill all requirements

Scholarships are usually awarded based on a set of criteria such as academic merit, diversity and inclusion, athletic skill, and financial need. For an applicant of a scholarship to be successful, they must submit compelling requests. 

Francis Wangi, an education advisor at VVBO Education for Development says some agencies offering scholarships target sporty applicants. If you are from a secondary school and you have represented your school at district or national level, when you present that certificate, it helps a lot.

If the scholarship is meant for needy or vulnerable students, a letter from a local or religious leader confirming that you are vulnerable is crucial. Wangi adds that the people who offer scholarships look at your motivation to serve your community. You should prove that the course you study will be used to improve your community. As such, some of the agencies request for a motivational letter and it is good to include all this information.

Interpersonal, communication skills

Additionally, they may also be interested in how well you do in regard to social relationships. Soft skills such as communication, creativity, initiative and expression are key. How well do you present yourself? Some of these organisations have physical or oral interviews to assess your eligibility for a scholarship, so you need to be a good communicator.

For the written interview, brief the people you indicate on your letters as your referees, to ensure that they know you and are trusted people. For example, if you put your former head teacher, there are increased chances that they know you, Wangi says. Alternatively, you can use one of the religious leaders of the church you pray from. 

Course selection

What are the reasons behind choosing that particular course? What do you hope to achieve? Ensure your career aspirations are connected to the course you have chosen. Once you have your facts together, your chances of getting it are automatically spread. Bernard Butale, the communications officer at Mastercard Foundation Scholar programme, says different scholarships have different eligibility considerations.

One of them is academic performance, especially if you are interested in getting government scholarship.

“Therefore, when you perform well academically, your chances of getting a scholarship increase,” Butale notes and further explains that Mastercard Foundation Scholar programme first considers academically bright and economically-disadvantaged applicants.

Others consider a track record in community work, leadership and creativity. “When talking about scholarship, it simply means funding, so for someone to extend funds to you, there must be something that is attractive about you,” Butale notes. 

How to stand out once shortlisted 

Butale says one should do a search online for tips and vital information to convince a panel of experts once they are shortlisted for an interview for the scholarship. “When shortlisted, ensure you have information relating to what you are applying for. Prepare fully in order to convince the panel that you are the perfect candidate for the opportunity,” Butale says.

How to avoid scams

Organisations, agencies, companies and even government ministries often advertise such opportunities in newspapers and their official websites, to ensure transparency. Any scholarship processes where you are asked to pay money is usually a scam, Butale says. He advises students to ask the following questions before applying for any scholarship;

  • Does the university or organisation exist?
  • Where does it operate from? Is it aware of the opportunities being advertised?
  • Does the Government know about the organisation offering the scholarships?
  • Has the organisation ever sponsored any students before?
  • What are the objectives of these scholarships?

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