What is a Scholarship Writing Experience
The letter of motivation is perhaps the most difficult part of the scholarship application: You have little experience with it, you don't really know what to expect, and you sit in front of the screen without any preparation. Anyone who draws up a letter of motivation should not only have thought about the respective foundation, its mission statement and program, but also about themselves.
Why do I want a scholarship? Why from this foundation? And why should this foundation support me in particular? A letter of motivation in the scholarship application should answer this question. In essence, it is not unlike the cover letter in a job application: The applicant introduces himself and his special skills and relates them to the expectations of the addressee. "There has to be a correspondence between the foundation and you. If the hard facts like the grades are correct, you are very close to the goal," says Max-Alexander Borreck, co-author of the book "Der Weg zum Scholarship" .
However, a letter of motivation is far more personal, goes deeper and explains on one or two pages what the cover letter only touches upon. It is the basis of all further documents because the author explains here why he is applying in the first place, why he even bothered to put together certificates, forms and résumés for weeks or months. This effort already shows that there is motivation - the applicant only has to put it into words.
That is why every letter of motivation is and has to be different - but there are some basic rules that can be used as a guide:
Why do I want a scholarship? This is really about motivation: What do I expect, why do I apply? Of course money is a factor, but this motivation has no place in the letter of motivation. Rather, the applicant must be clear about the extent to which he can benefit from the non-material support. And should not only convince the foundation of this, but also be convinced of it yourself - because seminars, language courses, scholarship holders and alumni networks are not only worth a lot personally, but also professionally. That leads to the next question ...
Why do I want a scholarship from this foundation? The letter of motivation should already contain more specific reasons than general praise for the seminars on offer. Many foundations put their program on the Internet - here you can find information that can be related to previous course content or practical experience - or to future goals: When the Foundation of German Business offers a seminar on the subject of collective bargaining and social policy and the applicant accepts wants to deal with the minimum wage in his economics bachelor thesis, he can mention this accordingly in the cover letter. In the best case scenario, he has already researched so well that he has shortlisted this foundation because of the offers that match his own profile.
In addition to the non-material support, the letter of motivation should also show that the applicant has dealt with the work of the foundation and its values. This does not mean that the letter of motivation should pray down the story and the mission statement for paragraphs, but that the applicant picks out the aspects that overlap with their own ideas. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, for example, pays special attention to integration - in this context, it can be easily mentioned in the letter of motivation that the applicant has been a reading mentor for Turkish kindergarten children for some time. That leads to the next question ...
Why should this foundation support me in particular? In the letter of motivation, the applicant picks out some points from his résumé that particularly qualify him for a scholarship and that distinguish him from others. He explains what the Foundation can do with promoting him, and to what extent his and her goals coincide. He can refer to his consistently good academic performance, to the knowledge and experience he has already gained at the university or during internships and to what extent they fit the guidelines of the foundation. He can list his social commitment and explain how and why he wants to continue or intensify this - perhaps with the help of the scholarship. He can explain the study and career goals he wants to achieve and what these have to do with the foundation.
These questions cannot be clearly separated from one another and do not correspond exactly to three paragraphs of the one- to two-page letter of motivation; but they form the framework that is underpinned with personalities. Basically, beyond all tips and recommendations, there can be no instruction manual for a letter of motivation - and also no template in which only name, subject and data have to be exchanged.
In order for a letter of motivation to be good and credible, the applicant must actually go inside and put what he finds there on paper. Especially with a view to face-to-face interviews and selection processes, it is better to remain authentic than inflate details. Even running the spelling program over again is not a shame, says Sibylle Kalmbach, Deputy Secretary General of the German National Academic Foundation: "With some things that are handed in, one has the impression that it was just neglected."
For the application as a whole, but especially for the letter of motivation, it can be helpful to talk to current or former scholarship holders beforehand. If you don't know anyone personally, you may find contacts on Facebook; most foundations are represented here with groups. There are also university groups from some foundations that you can also visit.
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