Q: How do I write a motivation letter in order to win a scholarship?
Great to know that you are applying for a scholarship – and are seeking to secure it. :) As you may know, the approach to writing a motivation letter for a scholarship differs slightly from that to writing one for a college/university application. When applying for a university course, you focus on why you’re a right fit for the course (academically). But when you apply for a scholarship, you need to focus on why you deserve to win that particular scholarship, and this may or may not always mean highlighting your academic achievements. So, here’s how you can go about it…
Choose to provide information about yourself depending on the type of scholarship you are applying for
Visit the website of the scholarship-awarding body and understand who they are looking to give the scholarship to. For example, if the scholarship is intended for academically gifted individuals, focus on the best of your academic achievements. If it is meant for those excelling in certain sports, talk about your achievements in this area. If they’re looking for individuals who have a background in social services or are potential leaders in certain fields, discuss any activities and achievements that demonstrate your skills and commitment in these areas. Check what type of information they are looking for and build your letter around it.
Highlight your goals and how receiving the scholarship will help you achieve those goals
Describe your long-term goal, how the course you have applied to/secured a place in is important to that goal, and how the scholarship will eventually help you achieve that goal. Also keep in mind the objective of the scholarship-awarding body and ensure that your goal ties in with theirs. For example, if the aim of the scholarship body is to support future women entrepreneurs in a certain field (and if you’re a woman), they are likely looking for a female candidate who has clear entrepreneurial goals and demonstrates commitment to them, appears to have put considerable thought and effort into choosing the right course/approach to reach her goals, and makes a convincing case for herself as someone who will benefit greatly from the scholarship.
Also, if the website of the scholarship-awarding body lists past awardees and what they are doing now, review this section. This might give you some insight into which attributes they are looking for in applicants.
Aligning your motivation letter with the objectives of the awarding body should not mean forcing yourself to be someone you are not. Do not oversell yourself and do not repeat yourself just to emphasize your point if you don’t have much to say. Those who will review your letter will probably have seen the applications of hundreds of students, so avoid clichés. To stand out, be as true to yourself as you can while focusing on your strengths and the reasons you deserve the scholarship.
Ensure that your writing is clear and engaging
Aim for a simple and engaging writing style. Avoid using flowery/vague language, wordiness, and complex writing styles. Be specific and clear.
Proofread your letter carefully
Finally, ensure that there are no typos or obvious errors in your letter and that it contains everything that the awarding body has said you should include.
Hope that helps. As additional help, you may find the following resources (providing tips for better academic writing) useful:
All the best for the letter and the scholarship!