Ghana Writes experts in admission and scholarship applications recently sat down with one of our clients, “Ivan” to review his rejected application to the Stanford University Scholarship program. And below are some of the useful points they raised;
Your essays should answer all the questions or prompts
Concerning his essays, the team criticized him constructively. First, they advised him to go straight to answer the essay prompts whenever he sits to write application essays. As charming as it can be to start with a quote (don’t do it!), story, or drawn-out metaphor, clearly and directly answering the prompt should be the top priority for an application essay. This way, the reader won’t feel lost about whether or not the applicant answered the prompt. Sometimes, an essay sufficiently answers a prompt, but the applicant buries the lede with preceding paragraphs, and the reader gets lost along the way. The smartest approach is to make sure this doesn’t happen by being clear and upfront. Once you have answered the prompt, you can then go into a story, metaphor, or a very carefully selected, not overused quote. And speaking of quotes…
Don’t start your essays with a quote
Many applicants choose to begin their essays with quotes, but this approach has its faults. Namely, it relies on another person’s words to convey your thoughts from the very beginning of the essay instead of relying on your voice. It’s better to spend the first few lines of your essay answering the prompt clearly than to share a quote that may be overused and may not even get your point across.
Be mindful of your biases
Though this point is arguable, please, to make a successful application, be mindful of displaying gender bias. If you made reference to interest in particular courses at the school you’re applying to, it is notable to admissions committee members if you only name men, which is a persistent problem in scholarly research, academia, and the corporate world. Our simple advice is to make sure to list at least one course taught by a woman in the subject area that interests you. Many applicants name only courses taught by men without even realizing it. Keeping an eye on how your biases might pop up can help you avoid this common mistake.
Finally, we’ve all heard this last piece of advice, but it remains true. Avoid typos as much as possible. Misspellings or incorrect phrases happen to the best of us, but they can also taint an admissions committee member’s opinion of an applicant. Make use of spell check and ask friends, colleagues, or hired experts like us to proofread your materials to avoid leaving a bad impression on the admissions committee.
Ghana Writes Literary Group has a strong team of former scholarship winners and alumni of various international universities. We help persons who are interested in education abroad apply for admissions and scholarships. We would be glad to assist you in this regard.