I:- Liam & N:- Natalie
I:- Should an applicant submit a typed (word-formatted) application form as opposed to a hand-written application form?
N:- It is not an absolute requirement that applicants must submit a typed application form. However, a neat application form does give a better impression for the screening panel. In other words, when 2 applicants’ credentials are similar, the application that is presented in a more clear and neat format may have an advantage over the other one.
I recall that one year the credentials of all applications were extremely close, and there was an applicant who submitted a neatly hand-written application form. Her exquisite penmanship has given me and other screening panel members a very positive impression. She eventually advanced into the interview round.
I:- How much weight is being given to academic credentials?
N:- We are looking for a student who is all-rounded. So while academic credentials are important, we don’t make decisions simply on this factor.
In fact, we often receive applications with very similar academic credentials. Hence we also put a lot of weight in other factors like students’ extra-curricular activities and achievements, and what kind of work they have done to contribute to the Society. We also read carefully the section “Statement of Interest” to trying to understand more about each candidate.
I:- What kind of extra-curricular activities do the Panels like to see?
N:- Again, there is no set rule on this. Applicants may simply tell us what they have done in the past years, for example, participated in certain volunteer projects, completed Grade 8 piano exam, or achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Award, etc. We would like to see evidence of dedication to a specific interest.
Applicants can also utilize this section to make an impact. One year an applicant stated that she has participated in some dramas and musicals, then went on to describe herself as a “creative and all rounded performer”, and how the experiences have changed her. It is a well-written piece that has provided us with a full picture of her extra-curricular activities, and left us with good impression.
I:- I thought that a good statement of interest is where applicants supposed to introduce themselves. So, what is a good statement of interest in the eyes of the Panels?
N:- A statement of interest is the applicant’s self-introduction. But a good one is beyond being just a simple introduction. A good statement of interest can help the Panels to explore further the applicant’s characters, to get an initial comprehension of the type of person the applicant is.
Gathered from what I’ve seen in previous applications, let me give some advice here.
We always like to know an applicant’s goal or their future plans, etc. One previous winners of the Scholarship told us in her statement about her “mission in life”, and also explained the correlation between her life mission and her career plan.
Of course we also want to know why the applicants have chosen Warwick. But equally importantly, we are also interested to know why they have chosen their subjects. I remember one candidate has used wordings from a then popular commercial advertisement to illustrate his strong interest for his subject. He has definitely succeeded in communicating his point in a clear and creative way.
And remember try not to repeat things as space is limited. Applicants should show us that they have thought about what to put in the statement. Tell us what is relevant, make it stand-out, yet easy-to-read. Your statement is to convince us you are a deserving candidate to be short-listed for the final interview.
I:- What is your final tip for students in their scholarship applications?
N:- Don’t forget to send a reference! A strong reference can make a real difference.
Thank you, Natalie! I hope Natalie’s advice has given some help to those of you who will be applying for the WGAHK Scholarship this year. Applicants should be aware that this Q&A is only for your reference purpose and does not in any part represent the Panels’ selection criteria.