Writing Applications

Applying for Awards – Hints and Guidance

There are a number of things to consider when applying for scholarships and completing the necessary forms. A set of “good practices” might include the following:

  • Start well in advance – a last minute application is very obvious to committee members and says that you are unprepared, disorganized or do not care much about the award.
  • Read and understand all the directions – ask questions if you are unsure.
  • Follow the format and typesetting guidelines – the reviewers read many such applications and the guidelines help them in the review process.  Not following the guidelines may make your application hard to read and difficult for reviewers to find the information they need.
  • Fill in all information – even if you have nothing to provide in some category, say “Nothing to provide” so the reviewers know you did not miss the category. 
  • Look at other successful applications if you can – this tells you what has worked before.
  • Have your application proofread – multiple times, by different people, if possible, since different perspectives are important.
  • Paint a full picture – GPA certainly counts for a lot (particularly at the M.Sc. level) but it is not the whole picture. Be sure to describe all of your research skills, abilities and contributions to date.
  • Write a strong and detailed research proposal that includes some indication of how you will do what you propose.
  • Frame your proposed work in the big picture so your work doesn’t appear narrow.
  • Space permitting, explain how your research environment (lab, group, etc.) will help you complete your work.
  • Ensure that your writing reflects your own interest and enthusiasm in your work.