Are you considering applying for the GREAT Scholarship? 2021-22 GREAT scholar Diona from India shares her top tips with you, based on her experience of the application process, to help increase your chances of success.

1. Make sure you’re eligible and stick to the word limit

To get through the first round of applications, you must fulfil two simple requirements. If you meet the scholarship’s eligibility criteria and you stick strictly to the word limit, you will automatically proceed to the next stage, where real people read your application.

2. Share your achievements to prove your worth

If you don’t share your achievements with the people reading your application, they won’t know your worth. Don’t worry about ‘talking about yourself too much’ or ‘boasting’. To decide whether to grant you the scholarship, they want and need to know your achievements.

Diona, who recently completed her master’s in Education, Inclusion and Special Needs at the University of Hull, says: ‘Don’t be ashamed to talk about all of your achievements and the extra activities you have engaged in over the last few years. I wrote a lot about different activities that I’d done in school. I was wondering if I should, but then I decided there’s no harm in sharing what you’ve done. I put it out there. It could be something as simple as being part of the school dramatics association. Just make sure you show how this has been beneficial, and how being involved has given you different skills and how you want to embrace them.’

GREAT scholar at the scholar’s event in London, 2022.

3. There are no right or wrong answers

There are no right or wrong answers if you talk candidly about your experiences. Share your story, your capabilities and your ambitions in the best way that you can, and try to structure your answers in a way that makes the most of the limited space you have.

To learn from the process, Diona asked the assessors – after being offered the scholarship – why they had chosen her. She says, ‘They said that one of the best things about my application was that I was totally honest about who I am. They liked my flow of writing. Remember to make your writing like a story that reflects all of the positive ways you’ve been involved in different activities’.

Two female students sit by side on seats at The Kia Oval cricket ground at the GREAT scholar's event in London, 2022. The student on the left is wearing a burgundy headsarf and smiling widely while holding a snack in her left hand. The student on the right is slightly out of focus and is laughing. She is wearing a white suit jacket.

‘There are no right or wrong answers if you talk candidly about your experiences’.

4. Talk about how the scholarship will impact your life

People reading your application will want to know what you hope to gain from receiving the scholarship, personally and professionally. Your answers are the chance for you to show them how receiving the scholarship would impact your life.

In Diona’s application, she wrote about how getting her master’s in the UK would be the first stop on her journey to achieving her career goals. The course she applied for at the University of Hull focused on job building, leadership and management. After graduating, she wanted to stay in the UK to grow her experience within the field of education before returning to India to found and run a special education institution.

‘I’m hoping to start my own school one day where there is inclusive education and a proper platform for special needs. Just teaching in schools is not going to prepare me. I also need to understand the management, the admin and the marketing side. There is so much that goes into it’, she says.

A student sits writing by hand in a work book. She is wearing a blue top and we can only see her hands and her work book. She writes with her right hand and her left hand is decorated with an intricate mehendi pattern.

‘I’m hoping to start my own school one day where there is inclusive education and a proper platform for special needs’.

5. Show how getting the scholarship will benefit people in your home country

In your application, you should try to highlight how the knowledge, skills and experiences you will gain through your education won’t just help your own personal and professional growth but also the growth of your nation. You will be assessed on your ambitions, including in the longer term, and in relation to the value you receiving a GREAT Scholarship will add to your home community.

In her application, Diona emphasised that beyond her career ambitions, she hopes the school she wants to set up will ‘make education in India more accessible and inclusive for differently able students, and not just those who can afford it’. She also emphasised that she wanted to ‘create opportunities for women, and other disadvantaged groups, to find stable and meaningful employment and ensure they are given equal opportunities’.

6. Go for it, and if it doesn’t work out the first time, keep trying

Time and time again, students talk about the ‘why not?’ factor when applying for scholarships. It’s normal to get intimidated when thinking about how many people can be applying from all over the world who you might feel are more deserving of certain opportunities than you. They are probably thinking the same thing. And if you don’t try, you will never know. So it’s worth taking your chances. And if, at first, you don’t succeed, or you don’t get exactly what you’re looking for, there are always other options that will help you to achieve your goals.

Diona suggests, ‘If you don’t get accepted for the scholarship, don’t be upset about it. Instead, see it as a learning experience. ask for feedback from the panel who received your application and implement what they’ve told you in future scholarship applications.

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