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7 tips for gaining a university scholarship

There are thousands of university scholarships available to students each year and many go unclaimed. There is a good chance your teen will be awarded one if you follow our 7 tips from expert educators below.

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  1. Do your research

    The first step is research. Check out the scholarships each university offers. Most universities have a 'scholarship finder' on their website, which makes it easy to distinguish which scholarships your teen may be eligible for. Scholarships are awarded for many different abilities, not just academics. They can be awarded for overcoming adversity, showcasing leadership potential or being a talented sportsperson or musician. Search for a scholarship that plays to your teen's strengths.

  2. Get advice from those in the know

    Have your teen meet with the careers advisor and head of academics at their school - both staff members should have extensive knowledge about the scholarships available to your teen. They will also have advice about how your teen can secure this scholarship and will be able to suggest subjects and/or extracurricular involvement to make their application more favourable to scholarship selectors.

  3. The big $20k+ trick

    If your teen is aiming for one of the 'big' scholarships - usually worth $20,000 or more - then they should aim for 80 excellence credits at Level 2 and a well-rounded portfolio. It's an unwritten rule, but usually if they achieve this they are more likely to be awarded one of the major scholarships.

  4. Build a well-rounded portfolio

    Your teen should try to be involved in as many opportunities as possible while at school to create a well-rounded portfolio of academics, service, leadership and cultural/sporting pursuits. Service and regular volunteering will give your teen a major advantage. Universities often look for 'all-rounders' who have demonstrated commitments outside of the classroom. A strong academic portfolio with merit credits or higher in NCEA is also a must.

  5. Level 2 results must be considered

    Scholarship offers are made before NCEA Level 3 is complete so scholarship selectors usually look at a student's NCEA Level 2 results rather than their Level 3 results. Make sure your teen knuckles down during their Level 2 year.

  6. Meet the deadlines and criteria

    Once you have identified one or more scholarships to apply for, it's important you understand the application criteria and process. Identify the application deadline and have your teen start preparing their scholarship application well in advance. Check their progress throughout the year to ensure they are meeting the scholarship criteria.

  7. Find strong testimonials

    Strong testimonials set students apart from the rest. Testimonials from their headmaster, deputy headmaster, sports coach or head of music are all great options. Always let the referees know which scholarships your teen is applying for, so they can tailor the testimonial to different scholarships.


To help your teen meet the academic criteria to secure a scholarship download this FREE eBook - An exam marker's secrets for better NCEA results.

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