Be prepared: First impressions count, so do your best to ‘sell yourself’ in your interview. *iStock photo
Be prepared: First impressions count, so do your best to ‘sell yourself’ in your interview. *iStock photo

This year the Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies (BFIS) received 101 applications for 13 scholarships.

The Scholarship Committee reviewed each application and picked 30 students to interview. Each had just 15 minutes to impress the six committee members, half of whom are former BFIS scholarship recipients.

A total $451,000 was awarded to the lucky 13.

But what made those applicants stand out, and what stood in the way of the others being considered?

Choice of scholarships

Each application was made online via  www.bermudascholarships.com. This enabled us to see each applicant’s profile and what other scholarships they were applying for.

This was interesting as some students just applied for every scholarship listed.

That is not good as right off the bat, the award providers feel that the student is someone who is too lazy to research which scholarships are applicable to them. 

If you want to enter the insurance sector, then you should not be applying for a ‘turf management’ scholarship. 

Photo

Your photograph makes the first impression on the committee members and so it is best to have a simple head and shoulders shot, in your school uniform or a nice shirt.

Spelling

You must check your spelling. Many scholarship providers deal with hundreds of applications and will not look any further at one if the student has not taken the time or trouble to check the spelling. 

Content

Grades, extracurricular activities, sports, interests, work experience, essays and references — these all count and should help those examining your application to gain a clearer picture of who you are, your values and your focus.

You cannot change some information, such as how much interest you took in your work and activities, but your essay is where you can shine.

You should pay attention to what the scholarship providers want you to write about, and at bermudascholarships.com you can write as many different essays for different scholarships as you like.

But make them ‘private’ so each provider only sees the one which applies to their scholarship.

But do make your essay interesting! You want the scholarship providers to read it and feel they would like to meet you and learn more about you. 

It will often make the difference between being called for an interview or not.        

The interview

By now you should know all about the usual things, such as getting there on time and dressing appropriately, but here are a few more tips.

Remember that the people interviewing you are there to give away money, so they are on your side and just trying to learn more about you as a person, and whether you are a suitable recipient who they will be proud to give money to.  

So talk — tell them about yourself, your ambitions, what you love to do, how you solve problems, how you stay focused on schoolwork, and so on.

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you have a bright student with great grades sitting in front of you and then they only give you one-word answers.

When it comes down to the final decision, the providers will usually give the scholarship to the student they feel they know most about, and who shows potential, even though they might not have had the best grades.

Don’t forget that once again first impressions count — so walk quickly into that interview room with your head up and a smile, and if the opportunity arises, give a firm handshake.

Just do it

If you plan to apply for a scholarship, get started on your profile at www.bermudascholarships.com now, while you still have time to perfect your information and essays. 

Don’t wait until the last minute — the first scholarship deadlines are around mid-March. Good luck!

Catherine Lapsley is the executive director of the Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies (BFIS).

Scholarship Recipients 2012