Westpac Scholars top ten application tips

Applying for a Westpac Scholarship? Read these top tips from successful scholars to help you complete your application form.


1. You have to be in it to win it


"Just apply! I was very hesitant to put myself forward and did so thinking it was an absolute long shot at best. Incredibly, here I am as a Westpac Scholar." – Lyndon Galea, 2019 Westpac Scholar


“Don’t allow self-doubt to prematurely disqualify you from reaching for something that you might otherwise stand to achieve.” – Denzil Furtado, 2020 Westpac Scholar


"The only way to be in with a shot is to apply. I almost didn’t, thinking I wouldn’t have much of a chance, so don’t rule yourself out before you’ve even started." – Joel Palte, 2019 Westpac Scholar


2. Don’t wait for the right time – start now!


“Get online and look through the application requirements and the questions in the form. Write yourself a list of all the things you need to do in order to complete your application for this scholarship.” – Jessie Liu, 2020 Westpac Scholar


"Give yourself 3x more time than you think you need - the application is an extensive one and a few scholarship streams require references as well as some deep insight on your motivations.  It is not something you want to rush, and it is worth investing your time and effort into." – Adrienne Koor, 2019 Westpac Scholar


3. Be confident and back yourself


"Emphasise those qualities, beliefs, talents and values that make you, you. The panel is not looking for one type of individual. Rather they are a looking for a variety of people who are committed to pursuing their passions and committed to contributing to Australia." – Umanda Madugalle, 2019 Westpac Scholar


“Whether you consider yourself a leader or not, the scholarship is selected based on your potential for leadership just as much as it is chosen based on the proof of your leadership in the past. So back yourself and get in there!” – Brianna Kerr, 2020 Westpac Scholar


"You know yourself better than anyone else. You know your vision and why it is important. Simply, the selection panel don’t. They won’t know of your vision, why it is important and how you are the right person to make it happen. They want you to succeed, you just need to make sure that they can see it in your application. You need to back yourself, you’re the expert on you." – Cameron Thorn, 2019 Westpac Scholar


4. Show them the real you


“If you’re someone who finds writing about yourself hard, that’s okay. One of the best things about the online Westpac Scholarship application is that it asks simple and short questions about your life experiences that are sure to showcase your unique talents and accomplishments.” – Anna Normyle, 2021 Westpac Scholar


"Be yourself. Be honest about who you are and what drives you. Passionate and genuine is better than perfect." – Ben French, 2019 Westpac Scholar


“Think deeply not just about your work and your career plans, but also about your own personal drivers and motivations. They reveal more about you than you might initially think.” – Denzil Furtado, 2020 Westpac Scholar


5. Seek guidance from others


“The application process is a great excuse to reach out to your mentors and get advice. These can be existing mentors, or new mentors such as current Westpac Scholars, potential supervisors, or other applicants.”  - Doug Radford, 2021 Westpac Scholar


"Sometimes it can be difficult to answer application questions when you’re staring at a blank page or computer screen! I found it useful to catch up with a friend, colleague or family member who would then ask me one of the application questions I was struggling with in person. By talking it through I was able to get down to the nitty gritty of what points I really wanted to get across and where my passions lay. Once the words started flowing it was easy to them get them down on paper!"  - Alexandra Procter, 2019 Westpac Scholar


"From the application process through to interviews you are strengthened by a team being on the journey with you, whether this is your referees, mentor, Board etc. Seek feedback, pitch ideas, and embrace the learning along the way because this is what the scholarship is all about." – Dr Shelley Bowen, 2019 Westpac Scholar


6. Know your ‘why’


"More important than your CV or grades is knowing your ‘why’. Focus on articulating your story, what has made you the person you are today, and how this motivates your goals for the future." – Joel Palte, 2019 Westpac Scholar


“Instead of just listing out all of the things you’ve achieved, dig deeper. Why were you drawn to those things in the first place? What are my values and commitments? How do your research, volunteering, work point to these values and commitments?” – Jessie Liu, 2020 Westpac Scholar


“It’s not about how good you look on a piece of paper, how many marks you’ve received at university or what you have accomplished at work, rather it forces you to reflect heavily on how you can make a positive difference to Australia through your skills and leadership” – Scott Watts, 2020 Westpac Scholar


7. Think big


"Treat the world as your oyster - aim high and shoot well beyond your means and dreams - then anywhere you land is a bonus. I never considered doing half the things I've ended up doing. My one piece of advice would be to think BIG!"  - Nip Wijewickrema, 2019 Westpac Scholar


"Whilst you draft your application, don't be afraid to dream big and aspire for more. Think outside the box, get creative and don't let the usual bubble you might find yourself in constrain your ways of thinking."  – Nicole Ee, 2019 Westpac Scholar


"Think big. Have the confidence to talk about the big issues you care about, even if they extend outside of your project. The scholarship is about you and your aspirations- not just your PhD/Masters." – Ben French, 2019 Westpac Scholar


8. Don’t be afraid to share your development areas


"Be unafraid to share your strengths and your weaknesses. Both are equally important and how you are aware of and overcome your weaknesses shows a sense of self awareness and openness to personal development."  – Talia Melsom, 2019 Westpac Scholar


"Don’t be afraid to showcase your failures or tougher times. We often shy away from telling people when we have stuffed up or sharing the difficulties we are having in life, but one thing I can say I have learnt a lot so far (and am still learning) is that sharing these and doing your best to accept them and move forward makes you far more authentic and genuine." – Harry Carpenter, 2019 Westpac Scholar


"Reflect on the areas you need to develop in order to achieve your vision and how the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship will help you to grow." - Medha Majumdar, 2019 Westpac Scholar


9. Give this opportunity the time it deserves

“Do not be surprised if you find the application difficult. Meaningful growth is rarely easy, but I hope you will find the process useful to achieving this.” – Doug Radford, 2021 Westpac Scholar


"Don’t treat this like a project or another thing on the “I’m so busy but have to do list”. Think of this as an extraordinary opportunity that requires your focus, attention to detail, and open-ness to learning." – Dr Shelley Bowen, 2019 Westpac Scholar


“This scholarship is not a simple bursary; you need to demonstrate you are a good candidate for it, and the first step is a well thought out, insightful application. I treated it like an essay and chipped away at it over weeks so that I could be 100% happy with what I was submitting.” – Ben Griffiths, 2021 Westpac Scholar


10. Take a moment to really reflect

“One of the unexpected benefits of articulating my research plans in the application form was the opportunity to reflect on why I was ready to embark on my PhD journey.” – Anna Normyle, 2021 Westpac Scholar


“Writing effective applications will require you to reflect deeply on your experiences to date, your passions and drivers, and your goals for the future. It is dangerous to rush this reflection, and indeed you should not if you are hoping to properly benefit from the process and offer genuine, sincere answers.”  - Doug Radford, 2021 Westpac Scholar


"Authenticity is not just writing truthfully about what you have done, but I think more importantly is about realising and connecting with what you want to achieve in the future and why/how you plan to get there. I found this challenging as I had never really thought through it, but found it the most valuable part of my application process." – Adrienne Koor, 2019 Westpac Scholar


Don't forget to hit submit on your application form! Good luck!


Published 8 June 2021

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