BlogUniversityWhy Your Uni Scholarship & Early Entry Applications SUCK [And How to Fix It!]

Why Your Uni Scholarship & Early Entry Applications SUCK [And How to Fix It!]

Receiving a scholarship means you actually get PAID to go to university. And early entry offers mean you can say goodbye to the stress and anxiety of waiting for your ATAR!

Pretty awesome, right?

But with THOUSANDS of students applying, how do you stand out and get those scholarships & early entry offers?

In this video and article, I’m going to show you how you can stand out among the crowd using a simple 3 step Framework!

Step #1: How to tell stories to create pattern interrupts
Step #2: Why you need to be specific and how you can do this
Step #3: Why and how to show and not tell

When universities receive applications from thousands of students competing for the same scholarships and early entry places, they all look the same.

Most applications talk about leadership experience gained from SRC, being House or School Captain or Prefect; or they talk about doing Duke of Edinburgh, volunteering for the Salvation Army or Barnardos.

All of these achievements are amazing, but when the selection committee has seen literally hundreds of the same experiences on applications, they don’t stand out and your application won’t be particularly memorable. 

So when you’re applying for a small amount of coveted positions, you need to make sure your application is standing out from the crowd and helping you distinguish yourself as the best applicant. 

“But how do I do this?”

Step 1: Tell a Story

Most scholarship and early entry applications read like a boring list of achievements. Even if they’re impressive, no one wants to read pages and pages of text.

And that’s why you should always start your applications with a story!

There are 2 main reasons for doing this:

Reason #1: Create a pattern interrupt

If you are the only applicant (or one of few) to start your application with a story, it’s immediately going to make an impression on the reader, simply by being different!

Reason #2: Enable you to connect personally with the selection committee

This is really important because it’s going to allow the selection committee to get to know you on a personal level much more easily. Secondly, it gives you an opportunity to powerfully communicate WHY the selection committee should pick YOU!

Step 2: Be Specific!

So many applications simply list all the amazing achievements students have done, but they are really general.

For example, applications will say:

“I raised money for charity”


“I taught school children”


“I volunteered at a shelter”


“I participated in a community event”

These activities are all great and really incredible achievements, but they are not specific at all. These examples don’t really tell you anything about what this person actually has done and aren’t particularly impressive.

Here’s how to be specific in your scholarship and early entry applications:

Step 1: Quantify your achievements

This means putting an actual number or figure on the achievement. Instead of saying “I raised money for charity”, say “I raised $2,000 for charity”.

Step 2: Explain how you did it

Explain to the reader what you actually did to achieve this. Instead of simply saying “I raised $2,000 for charity”, say “I raised $2,000 for charity by holding a bake sale at my school once a week in Term 1 2018”

Step 3: Show the impact of what you’ve done

In this step you need to give the reader a tangible sense of what your achievement means or what it has done for the community.

Using our example above, you could say “I raised $2,000 for charity by holding a bake sale at my school once a week in Term 1 2018. By donating this money to the Salvation Army, this money supported 5 homeless people to develop skills in training programs to help them find employment.”

Now that sounds much better, doesn’t it?

Step 3: Show, Don’t Tell!

Here’s the good news:

If you’re starting with a story and being specific in your application, you’re already 80% of the way there!

Here’s an example to show you what I mean about showing and not telling!

Prudence, one of our Future Leaders from 2017 was really passionate about learning Asian languages and about Asian cultures.

Prudence could have simply said in her applications “I am passionate about learning about Asian languages and culture”, which is true, but anyone could say that about something they’re passionate about.

Just because you say that you love doing something or are passionate about something on an application, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are.

This is why it’s so important to show and not tell. Back to our example:

Instead of simply writing “I am passionate about learning about Asian languages and culture”, Prudence told a story, was specific and showed her passion by writing about when she was standing on the steps of the Chinese Embassy, rapping in Mandarin!

Doesn’t that give you a better sense of Prudence’s passion and love for Asian language and culture?

Recap: How to Make Your University Scholarship and Early Entry Applications Incredible

To recap what we’ve learned today:

#1 Tell a story in your application: This gives you the opportunity to stand out from the hundreds or thousands of applicants who simply list their achievements like a grocery list! It creates a pattern disrupt for the person reading your application and help you make your application memorable

#2 Be specific: Make sure you’re being specific about your achievements by quantifying, explaining how, and showing the impact of your activities. This will make your achievements more memorable and more impressive!

#3 Show, don’t tell: Don’t just tell the selection committee what you’ve done or what you’re passionate about. Anybody can say they’re passionate about something, or that they love doing something, but it’s better to actually show the reader that!

Looking for a tutor to support you while you ace the HSC?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a large variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!

Isabella Hanley loves science. She loves science so much she’s making it her career. While completing her Bachelor of Medical Science she is also a Coach and Digital Content Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the HSC herself in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and hanging out with her awesome rescue dog, Ruby.

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