Scholarship Application process & tips

Start this process in Term 2

Task 1: Narrow down your choices

  1. Research scholarships available to you:
    • University (s) of your choice (academic, sporting, leadership, equity, Maori, Pasifika, Former refugee, international)
    • Universities NZ scholarships
    • Private scholarships
    • Regional scholarships
    • Rotary/Lions (if parents are members)
    • NCC scholarships that you can apply for
    • Money Hub  
    • Givme   (this costs $60 for one month access)

2. Compile a shortlist

    •  Make a list of the  scholarships that match your eligibility – REMEMBER: you can apply for multiple scholarships at multiple universities
    • Write down their closing date
    • Rank them – in order of closing dates.  this is the most important bit of info you need right now.

3.Deep dive…..

    • Read widely about the scholarship – know its purpose and background.
    • Make sure you get as much information about the scholarship as possible by checking information on the Scholarship’s website.
    • Write down “key” words that the you notice they use – e.g: innovative, bright, future-focused you want to speak to that language in your application
    • If the scholarship is funded by a company, gather as much information and read about that corporation’s philosophy and goals.

4. Write your application

Spend as much time on the application as is necessary to get it right.

The competition is so significant that any oversights could see you miss out, even if you were the strongest applicant. What you put on the application matters!

General tips

  • Come to the Scholarship writing sessions run by the Careers Hub!  check the notices for days/times.
  • focus on the most suitable options
  • increase your chances of receiving a scholarship by applying for as many as you qualify for.
  • Prioritise the scholarships that specifically relate to you over the general scholarships (except for the ‘give-away’ school leaver scholarships at uni’s)
  • allow plenty of time to complete the application (as in weeks!)
  • read ALL of the instructions CAREFULLY
  • Presentation is very important – first impressions count.
    • Make it professional. Avoid using informal language of any kind.
    • if they are paper applications, use the same style of writing and pen throughout the application. Do not use ink other than black or blue
  • Supply the documents in the order in which they are requested.
  • Apply for each scholarship separately. Do not use the same application to apply for two separate scholarships.



Task 2: Gather documents

Gather your “official” information so you can efficiently complete every scholarship

  • As well as filling out the form that scholarship body gives you, you may need to supply certified* documents such as:
    • proof of citizenship or residency status (eg birth certificate, passport)
      • Obtain a copy of your birth certificate from your parents/caregivers
      • OR:
      • order one (costs $33 and takes up to 14 days for you to receive)
    • record of learning
      • from the Student Office
    • bank details
    • IRD number


  • You will need to get your originals and photocopies certified* by an authorized person  (they are valid usually for 3 months – so you may need to get more certified for sept, oct, nov closing dates)
  • You many need to get an official copy of your bank account from your bank
  • If you do not have an IRD number, you will need to apply for one  (takes up to 10 days to receive and requires birth certificate or passport)

*Certified Documents can be done by:

  • JP (Justice of the Peace), you can access a JP at the Nelson Courts or find one locally here
  • JP’s are also available at Richmond Mall on Saturday Mornings
  • Solicitor of the High Court
  • Notary Public (there may be a cost)
  • Deputy Registrar at a court (not all courts will be able to certify copies)

Task 4:  Choose your Referees

·       Ensure that your referees are the appropriate people to provide the kind of information for the selection panel.

  • For example, if they need to know about your sport or leadership capabilities, ensure the referee you provide has worked with you extensively and can specify your qualities in detail. Specific and detailed references are what you are looking for
  • Choose and ASK three people to be your potential referees – they need to be people that know you well.

When choosing your referees think about:

  • Teachers that you have strong and positive relationships with
  • Teachers in subjects that you are excelling in
  • Coaches you respect
  • Community or business leaders


  • Don’t be shy about contacting referees – you need them! Don’t be afraid to go out there to secure their help.
  • Your referees CAN NOT be a family member, relative etc – it will make your application INVALID.
  • Make sure that you give your referees some knowledge and understanding of the scholarship you have asked them to be a referee for, so they can provide the appropriate information to each scholarship panel.
  • Referee’s statements or references are required before the closing date so here are some tips to help you manage these arriving before you need to submit them.
    • Your scholarship applications are very important to you, but often the people you have asked have many other commitments or deadlines, so assume that the adult you have asked will be late with your reference – to overcome this ask for the reference to be completed 2 weeks BEFORE you need it
    • Send a polite reminder to your referee one week before you have asked them to give it to you.


Task 5: Dig out, dust off and update your C.V.

  • Many scholarships ask for a copy of your CV. Either way, your CV contains a rich source of information and content that can be repurposed for your scholarship applications, Halls of Residence application or a job.