Tips from Cambridge cLASs scholars
We asked our last year’s scholarship winners, Krzysztof and Paulina, to share their thoughts on the application process and give some advice to prospective applicants. Here’s what they said.
What do you think was the strongest point of your application?
Krzysztof: I reckon that my essay was the best part of the application. I really took care with it and did not leave anything up to chance. Since it is at the end, it is the essay that will remain with the examiners, so it has to be good.
Paulina: I think that my strongest point, and at the same time a crucial thing in application, is justifying and supporting the responses with appropriate evidence. It is also very important to use the word limits wisely and not waste space on unnecessary details.
What was in your opinion the most interesting part of writing the application?
K: I most enjoyed the question about my favourite fictional character, which I thought was a very clever way for the application examiners to gauge our own personality and characteristics in an implicit manner.
P: I believe that the most interesting part of the application was the fact that by answering the questions I could learn more about myself and put my life into perspective.
Which aspect of writing your application did you find the most difficult?
K: I struggled with keeping my answers within the word limits. I wanted to write so much and expand on my ideas that I found I was quickly going over the boundaries. It was hard to try and remain concise in my written responses, without going on for too long.
P: To me, the most difficult were the ‘abstract questions’ – the ones that did not ask directly about my accomplishments or simple facts. Knowing that there were no right or wrong answers made them so different from the questions I had had to face before.
How did you go about writing your essay?
K: I just sat down and wrote it. Simple. After you have it written, only then does the work start however. I would recommend to have at least 3 people check your work (really listen to what they say!). Remember that you have to somehow show yourself to stand out from the other applications, so be original and show some emotion.
P: In my opinion, the best way to tackle the essay is to start writing it early enough to have time to review it over the weeks, maybe give it to a friend or family member who knows you well, just to make sure that it really gives a full picture of who you are. I, however, had merely a couple of hours to write mine before the deadline, which also turned out to work quite well.
If you were to do it all again, what would you do differently?
K: I think I would try to incorporate more of what I’ve learnt from the LAS website into my answers. By doing so you demonstrate you’ve done your research!
P: If I could go back in time, I would try not to stress out as much and appreciate the experience of writing the application more. I would focus on the story I wanted to tell and on the picture of me that I wanted the committee to see, instead of calculating my chances and making predictions. I believe that no matter what the outcome is, the application process is a valuable experience itself.