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Avoid the Common Mistakes

Top 10 Mistakes Made By Fellowship Applicants

  1. Overstate accomplishments and/or experiences – Don’t claim to speak Swahili unless you are fluent.  Chances are that someone on your interview panel will be an expert in the subject.

  2. Use words or concepts that you do not fully understand – If you are not familiar with Kierkegaard it is probably not the best idea to write about how your Christian Existentialism course played a substantive role in your academic development.

  3. Use leadership and service examples from high school – Fellowship reviewers are interested in the timely and relevant, which, for postgraduate fellowships, means your college years.  High school examples may be acceptable for some study abroad scholarships applied for during the freshman or sophomore year.

  4. Write about a generic experience – You should develop a consistent story line that focuses on your unique aspects.  The best essays are unique, engaging, positive, and honest.  In short, you must get personal.  Remember, only those who take risks are rewarded.

  5. Go over the word limit – Just don’t do it.

  6. Have typos, misspelled words, and incorrect grammar usage – Edit, edit, edit…rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.  Have multiple people read your application for the aforementioned mistakes.

  7. Use formalities and generic phrases – Scholarship committees know that you “enjoy challenges,” “want to make a difference,” and apply for the scholarship “with great pride and respect.”  These formalities and generic phrases are painfully obvious and therefore useless.  Content should always be individualized and illustrate personal reflection.   

  8. Forget to remind recommenders about deadlines – They are busy people, and let’s face it, professors forget things.  Be sure to remind them early, and remind them often.

  9. Wait until the month before the application is due to begin – If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times, but it bears repeating.  A successful application is time consuming.  If you start early, your chance of success rises exponentially.

  10. Overuse jargon – When used economically and effectively, jargon shows that you have a comfortable command of the vocabulary and concepts of your field of study.  However, the overuse of jargon can leave the reader confused and annoyed.  The best rule of thumb is to use jargon sparingly and with a purpose.