Being accepted onto one of the top MBA programs in Europe is no easy feat, and anyone who gets offered a place deserves a hefty pat on the back and a raucous celebration party (or at least a Facebook like).
Perhaps even harder than proving you’ve got the talent to succeed in an MBA program is getting the funding together.
Many of us rely at least partially on financial support to prop us up during our educations. For some, a scholarship provides extra monetary relief and helps with living costs. For others, bagging a scholarship could be the difference between accepting a place and not studying at all.
There are lots of scholarships available, but the competition is incredibly fierce. Securing one of these lucrative awards is a significant challenge.
So how do you make sure YOU bag the scholarship you feel you deserve? Let’s take a look at how to make your application shine like the stars with our 5 top tips.
1. Understand Why a Scholarship Is Being Awarded
If you don’t understand why a particular scholarship exists, you won’t be able to tailor your application accordingly. You need to make sure you know exactly why you need a scholarship, and then make sure you work hard to sell yourself and get in front of the right people, at the right time.
Scholarships offered by the business school itself are awarded on one of three grounds:
If you are so awesome that you’re head and shoulders above all the other applicants, you can bet that a top business school is going to want you.
It’s like being paid a meritocratic salary because you’re doing a grand job. If a business school feels you’re worth investing in, they will be inclined to offer you a scholarship.
Other times, scholarships are awarded because a student really needs one. They’re good enough to study at the business school, but they just can’t afford it. If they don’t get a scholarship, they’re not going to be able to study at all.
The problem with both of these types of scholarships is their rarity. Lots of students and their families overestimate how eligible they are for either a needs-based or merit-based award. Applicants have a tendency to also think there is an abundance of scholarships to go around.
Scholarships are also awarded to minority groups in an attempt on the part of the business school to improve diversity. Unsurprisingly, this is either something you’re eligible for or you aren’t.
2. Apply For More Than One
Applying for a scholarship is a bit like applying for a new job: it takes time, it’s a lot of hassle and it can be really stressful.
You’ve always got to keep your eye on the prize because the opportunity that these scholarships offer – getting your MBA – is a powerful incentive.
Taking the time to apply for as many scholarships as possible is recommended, because it improves your chances of landing one. Make a list of the ones you are eligible for and then apply.
3. Ask Someone To Read Your Application
When you’re writing out a scholarship application after going without sleep for 48 hours, it’s very hard to stay focused.
Or even sane.
As such, your first draft application is unlikely to be in the best shape.
For this reason, ask a friend or a family member to read through the application and point out any mistakes or anything that can be improved upon.
Another pair of eyes is great for objectivity, and they can spot areas for improvement you might not have noticed. More than anything, they should be able to spot grammatical errors that would land you in hot water. With business schools receiving so many applications, spelling and grammar mistakes will likely result in immediate dismissal of your chances.
4. Focus On Your Well-Rounded Qualities
You know what the business world is looking for. They’re looking for people with grit, determination, innovation, creativity, resolve, leadership skills, communication skills, management skills, and so on.
You know all this, which is why in your last application for a job you listed them all. But have you included these well-rounded qualities in your MBA scholarship application?
Business schools already know that you’re a little bit green at the moment. You wouldn’t be applying otherwise. They don’t want to see you write on your application, “I’m a bit green, can you help me improve?”
They want to see evidence that you’ve got what it takes to make it. List your top qualities and present yourself as the well-rounded candidate they want to see on their campus.
5. Give Yourself Plenty Of Time
It’s not enough that you think about your finances for just a few months before you embark on arguably the biggest two years of your life.
Instead, the sensible student after the best possible chance of being awarded a scholarship always plans in advance. This means they think about their finances at least 18 months before applying.
To do this, you should know exactly how much money you will need, which also ensures that you apply for a course-specific scholarship that suits you down to the ground.
If you apply these five tips, your application will not only be in great shape when you send it out the door, it will stand out from the crowd and land you that MBA scholarship you really need.
This post is written by Gretchen Shaw. Gretchen is an author, blogger and entrepreneur with a penchant for baking. She is passionate about communication, continued learning and connecting people. You can follow her on Twitter: @shawgret