7 Insider Tips for a Strong Scholarship Application

When you become a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, you join a network of young people embarking on a journey toward inclusive and equitable socio-economic change in Africa.

In our series Scholars Application Tips, we asked our partners the questions we receive the most about applying for a scholarship. In our latest #ScholarsApplicationTips video, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program partners share seven insider tips on how to build a strong scholarship application.


1. Be specific about your skills

When higher education institutions are reviewing your application, they want to know what your skills are and how they are relevant to the program you are applying for. They want to know how you will use your technical and educational skills to improve your community. Be specific and elaborate on your skills and experience, making that direct connection with what you hope to take away from this next phase of your education.

2. Craft a compelling statement

Each scholarship application requires a statement about why you are applying. Our partners recommend that you make this statement strong and compelling. Write about what you have done, how you have helped people and what you are doing for your community and country. Take time with your statement to effectively communicate who you are and help your application stand out amongst the others.

3. Be authentic

Our partners like to see authenticity in applications. Tell your story: who you are, what experience you have and what you are looking to accomplish. Take the time to reflect on your life story. What makes you a strong academic and personal candidate? Show your true colors because you are exceptional.

Related: 9 Common Scholarship Application Mistakes

4. Reach out to your networks

When working on your application, an insider tip is to scan your social and personal networks. Look for people you can talk to reach out to for help. Our partners encourage you not to be shy. Those in your network can offer valuable tips for the course that you are interested in. Ask them for their advice. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help you!

5. Ensure you have strong references

A great tip from our partners is to manage your references. They encourage you to provide your references with an outline of what you would like them to highlight. Provide your references with an overview of your strengths and goals. This can help them focus their reference to ensure that you are well-represented.

6. Start the application process early and don’t miss the deadlines

Our partners emphasize the importance of starting your application early and ensuring you meet the deadlines. Starting your application early will allow you the time to review, edit and revise. It helps make the application more thoughtful and can help reduce any gaps. To help you meet the deadlines, gather all of your documents so that you can complete the application on time. A reminder: continually check the deadlines of the institutions you are applying to for any unexpected changes.

7. Be yourself

Our partner institutions want to see who you are. They want to understand your passion and your visions. The best version of yourself is the strongest case for why you should get a scholarship.

Remember to showcase your diversity, conduct thorough research, and meticulously prepare your documentation to stand out in the competitive selection process. Good luck on your journey toward becoming a Mastercard Foundation Scholar!


Get more Scholarship Application Tips here.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

To stay up to date with the Mastercard Foundation, sign up for our monthly newsletter. Get youth voices, impact stories and news and announcements all direct to your inbox.

*By signing up for the Mastercard Foundation’s newsletter, you accept our privacy policy.