Step 3 in "Get yourself to Holland": scholarship application

In this blog, I want to share with you some information about the scholarship application assessment from a member of a scholarship committee (Amsterdam University College). And as a recipient of AUC scholarship for my bachelor and Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship for my master, i also note down some advice to help you build a strong case for your scholarship application

Posted by at Feb 03, 2017 05:55 PM

In the interview that i had at AUC at the end of last year with Dr.Belinda, i learned a lot about the scholarship, it purposes, the sponsors, and different aspects of the assessment process. The vid is pretty long, but i hope you will give you somewhat of an idea what happened behind-the-scene to your scholarship application. Enjoy! 


A lot of the time the scholarship committee only has your grades, CV and motivation letter to evaluate, compare and decide on whom to give the scholarship to. And of course, scholarship applicants all have good grades (this is the necessary condition); so your chance of standing out and convincing the committee that “you are the one” is pretty much riding on your CV and motivation letter. Therefore, it is crucial that you understand your story. 

What do I mean with “understanding your story”?

+ Know where you come from: I realize from my personal experience that every application, either for a job, a study program or a scholarship, is a great chance to dig deep and evaluate your background, supporting system and passion. In a motivation letter, it is very important to clearly state at the beginning your passions, explain a bit of why you develop these passions, and talk about how you nurture your passions. The motivation letter is like a autobiography and what makes one captivating is the journey. Take the readers on a journey of your development!   

+ Know what your strengths are: as the motivation letter is your one shot to sell yourself to the committee, you need to showcase your 'killer applications’. These selling points are what make people remember, appreciate and need you for. In my opinion, confidence is attractive,  and you can show that by, for example, mentioning a couple of skills that you are good at. Besides academic related-skills such as analytical and numerical skills, one of the most important skills in a scholarship application is leadership skill. Because probably all applicants mention this term in their letter, you should try to personalize it with your personal experience. A person with leadership quality will probably have in his/her CV a couple of leader roles, either in community service, sport or student association. 

+ Know what your weaknesses are: it is always good to be honest and acknowledge any of your shortcomings in the past. But never ever address your weaknesses without any justification. For instance, if you may fail your graduation exams and have to repeat your senior year, it is worthwhile to address this in your letter. Perhaps this failing experience is actually a turning point in your life where you finally find the drive and passions for something. Everyone fails and makes mistakes, but what more important is how you learn and use the experience to better yourself. So don’t be afraid to share your failure, as long as you think it will contribute to the story.

+ Have an idea of what you want to do in the future: it is a lot of money that you are asking from them, so the scholarship committee is very interested in what your career goals are and how the scholarship would enable you to reach those goals. Be realistic and specific with your goals. A generic statement like “I want to find a job in a big international firm after graduation” is unlikely to catch the attention of the committee. Instead, you can mention “My future plan after graduation is to gain some experience in the pharmaceutical industry either as an intern or a paid employee in the Netherlands. However, subsequently I would like to pursue a doctorate, as this higher academic pursuit will allow me to truly contribute to the ongoing search for effective cancer therapies”. Always try to make a connection between your goals and passions.

 => Build a story with your motivation letter: a convincing case is always a case backed up with real stories and real experiences. For example, don’t just simply state that you are a motivated and result-driven person, but also give examples and stories that demonstrate those qualities of yours. Would you believe someone when they say they have a passion for scientific research, but in fact have low grades in all science subjects or zero research experience?  But you may wonder: “but hey, I don’t have any experience or examples that demonstrate my skills”. Then the answer is simple: you should go out there, get involved, work hard and chase after what you believe in, be it academic work or extracurricular activities. 

=> Polish your CV: the CV shows your professionalism and it should allow the reader to understand your life journey within a quick scan. Don't put things in random order, but think about what you want to highlight and impress the committee with. Crowding your 2-page CV with tons of irrelevant subjects will distract the committee from what is truly representative of you. And most importantly, the motivation letter should not be a repeat of your CV, but you should only pick out significant things and evaluate them. 

Here are some of the full scholarship offered to international students: AUC scholarship, Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship and Amsterdam Merit Scholarship, and Utrecht Excellence Scholarship. There are also many more other partial scholarship at most universities in Holland 

I hope that you find the blog helpful. If you still have any questions, please leave them in the comment below and i will try to help you as much as possible. 

Don't forget to check out my other blogs and follow me on instagram (click here -> chungle92) to see what this little Vietnamese guy does with his life in Holland. See ya in my next blogs. 

Posted by at Feb 03, 2017 05:55 PM
Carolina Zelaya says:
Feb 05, 2017 11:08 PM
Me gustaria por favor obetener informacion sobre las carreras de estudion para pre grado y nombres de las Universidades . Gracias
Mai says:
Feb 17, 2017 07:45 AM
Hi anh Chung! My name is Mai. I also come from Viet Nam. I'm really glad to have found your blog! I have just submitted my application to AUC early this month and am waiting for the result. Thank you so much for sharing the tips! It's very helpful to me as I also apply for AUC Scholarship. If you don't mind, could I ask do you remember when did you receive your admission result from AUC?
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Chung Thanh Le says:
Feb 17, 2017 03:17 PM
Hi Mai, I am really happy that this year AUC may potentially have another Vietnamese student ;) The Vietnamese squad at AUC is definitely in need of more members haha.
to answer ur question, i remember that the committee will meet up somewhere in April to evaluate and decide on whom to offer the scholarships. Then i think at the end of April or early May you should get an email to notify if you re offered a scholarship or not.
But really, i wish you the best of luck and i hope to see you in Ams.
Alex says:
Feb 18, 2017 06:20 PM
Very nice blog here I have got thanks
Mai says:
Mar 02, 2017 05:28 PM
Thank you for your response and all of your kind words! They really serve as a motivation for me. I just want to inform you that I've passed the first stage of AUC admission and been invited to the AUC Admission Day. (However, I'm not living in the Netherlands so I may attend an online interview). I'm both excited and nervous now. Could you give me some advice on what to expect on that day and is there anything I should prepare in advance? Thank you so much. I really hope to hear from you.
Chung Thanh Le says:
Mar 24, 2017 10:03 AM
Hi Mai, sorry for getting back to you this late. I totally forget to read your comment. I hope you had a successful interview. In case you havent had that interview, dont worry too much. the interview is just a way for them to get know you in person and a chance for you to make sure that AUC is a good place for you. This interview, as far as i know, is not really about assessing your qualification or anything formal. usually if you are invited for an interview, you are already 95% in :D
Mai says:
Mar 24, 2017 04:25 PM
Hi anh Chung! I've just received an email from AUC. It says that I'VE GOT ADMITTED! OMG I can't believe it, it's a dream comes true! I will definitely join AUC as this is my first choice. Right now I'm still working hard on the motivation letter as the deadline is approaching. But it's quite a relief to receive an official admission from AUC. Thank you again for your tips on writing on motivation letter. If you don't mind, could I make friend with you on FB? I have several concerns regarding the letter that I really need your help. I think it'd be easier to communicate on FB than here. Thank you again.
Chung Thanh Le says:
Mar 24, 2017 05:19 PM
Hi Mai, nah, i dont mind. you can add me on fb.
but what motivation letter are u working on? the one for the scholarship ?
Mai says:
Mar 26, 2017 06:52 PM
Sorry for my late response. There was a problem with my wireless connection yesterday. Yes, it is the scholarship one. I have sent you a message on fb. Thank you a lot!
Commenting has been disabled.