Things I wish all South African students knew before they applied for a bursary (scholarship) or to a college/university.
As someone who pours over school and bursary funding applications for Film School Africa College, I have a bit of experience with young people who desperately want something, but so many don't seem to know how to get it.
Let me start by saying that I assume most, if not all students are writing in their 2nd or 3rd language, so this isn't about perfection. It is however, about effort, and how you stack up against the competition, who is also writing in their 2nd or 3rd language.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I wish all young people out there would consider.
1. It's a school application, you're not writing a WhatApp to your chommie. This means that your sms/texting short hand doesn't apply here, and if you don't know the difference, I'm sorry to have to break this to you - but you're not ready for academics beyond high school.
While this might seem obvious, you'd be amazed at how often I read, "plz, i need bursary u my hope plz gv me" - which brings up another subject...
2. Punctuation. Believe it or not sentences are supposed to start with capital letters and sentences end with a full stop. If you're asking a question, then it should end with a question mark.
If I'm going to have to read your papers and tests in the future, I sure don't want to be reading a paper that can't be understood. So when thinking about whether or not to let you in, I will absolutely consider the time it will take to get you where you need to be academically.
3. One sentence isn't enough. (And I'm not just talking about your never ending sentence because you don't use punctuation.)
I'm not sure why anyone would think that writing one sentence, when you've been asked to write an essay is acceptable, it's not. For me, this is the first way I can completely eliminate your application altogether, because if I have 10 spots and 100 applications, then I'm certainly not going to waste my time interviewing someone who wrote one sentence.
Remember the goal! You're trying to sell me on something - you!
You're trying to demonstrate that you're the best person for this bursary or for this university, and I don't know how one sentence is ever going to help me truly know who you are and what you bring to the table.
4. Remember you have competition.
Some people out there actually care about studying and are desperate for the bursary, so it's pretty darn easy when you look at the essay of someone who tried and someone who didn't. I'll always eliminate the one who doesn't put forth effort.
5. If you've been rejected, it never hurts to follow-up and see if someone is willing to provide you some details as to why you didn't make the cut. However, if you don't learn from it, it's a waste of time.
Your response to situations demonstrates your readiness for what's next. And if you blame others, blame the institution, or blame your dog without first looking at yourself - you've missed something truly important and you'll spend your life waiting on someone else to change your future.
So if you're reading this, and you don't do things differently today so that your tomorrow will be different, I'm sorry to bring the harsh reality, but you don't deserve to move forward and get ahead.
Someone else deserves that spot and they're going to get it. There are so many people who have a similar background to you, who are in financial need and are doing the work of making their tomorrow different.
So join them! Stop making excuses and do the work - I promise that if you do, some doors will fly open and perhaps even some windows.