More than $1 million in government scholarship awards will be handed out this year and they are open to students pursuing traditional, technical and vocational careers; to people with mental and physical challenges; to anyone “interested in the various careers and industries that are important to Bermuda”.
RG Scholarships spoke to Kimberley Mckeown, a senior policy analyst in the Ministry of Education, who started by emphasising that, in order to be considered, you must submit a complete application to www.bermudascholarships.com before April 17.
RG: Roughly how many scholarship applications does the government receive each year?
KM: In 2022 we received 452 applications and in 2021, we received 510.
RG: Which scholarships receive the greatest/least interest?
KM: The greatest interest is for the Bermuda Government Scholarship (BGS), which is our oldest and most prestigious scholarship. We are working to improve interest in the Minister’s Applied Science Scholarship, which is specific to graduating public senior school students in the applied science dual enrolment programme at Bermuda College.
RG: Are there ever any that are not handed out due to lack of interest?
KM: The local awards for the Minister’s Exceptional Award and the Minister’s Technical & Vocational Award; this is because most applicants are looking to go overseas.
RG: How many scholarships are handed out? What is the total monetary value?
KM: The total value of all scholarships, including renewable awards is $1.4 million.
RG: Are they all needs-based?
KM: All the scholarships are needs-based except for the BGS. We also accept applications for the Teacher Education Scholarship for persons with and without financial need.
RG: How do you decide which applicant should receive a particular scholarship?
KM: Scholarship committees review all documents received by each applicant and they create a shortlist based on the criteria for the scholarship or award, and the application requirements. They then interview the shortlisted applicants (except for the Further Education Award and the Bermuda College Book Award) and they rank each applicant based on how well they present themselves, how they respond to each question asked, enthusiasm, passion for chosen field, overall impression of the applicant.
RG: How would you describe an ideal applicant/application?
KM: An ideal applicant will:
- Meet the criteria for the applicable scholarship or award;
- Can reflect who they are, how they are unique and why they should get the scholarship;
- Be well-rounded;
- Have submitted a complete application so that the scholarship committee can get a fuller picture of the application;
- Have taken the time to think about each question before answering it, and respond to what is being asked;
- Have strong references that reflect their abilities, contributions, and other relevant information about them;
- Have submitted and uploaded a complete and correct application, including the Financial Need Form signed by their parent/s, unless not required.
Many scholarship committees want to hear how applicants will be successful in their studies, and that they will contribute to Bermuda upon completion of their studies.
RG: What are some of the big mistakes people make?
KM: The single biggest mistake is that some applicants do not submit completed applications. The second error is starting the application very late and applying at the last minute. This can result in errors and incomplete applications.
Another error is applicants not following the application directions. Applicants should ensure that they have answered the correct number of essay questions and answered them correctly as each scholarship has different essay questions.
Sometimes applicants respond to the question without identifying which question, so it’s uncertain which question they are responding to.
Some applicants do not record their current GPA correctly (each year reapplying applicants should update their profile to ensure their contact information is still current; that their GPA is based on current transcripts).
RG: How to apply?
KM: Via www.bermudascholarships.com by deadline date. No late applications will be accepted however, some leeway may be given in exceptional circumstances.
RG: What are some things that have made applicants stand out in a positive way?
KM: When applicants share about themselves and when they can answer the questions by incorporating a personal experience because that gives the committee insight into the applicant. When a shortlisted applicant can present themselves in a positive manner and can expound on the questions asked of them by the committee and not give short responses. If an applicant is shortlisted, this is the opportunity for the applicant to paint a picture of who they are, what their aspirations are, why they have selected the particular post-secondary institution and programme they want to attend, why they have selected their respective major, what are their life goals, hopes and dreams and where they see themselves career wise once they graduate.
RG: Any tips to success/things people should not do?
KM: An applicant renders their application incomplete when they do not upload all required documents. Incomplete applications cannot be considered any further. As much as possible, applicants should apply early to their school of choice to try to obtain a ‘conditional offer’ at the time of the application. The applications opened on January 16 and will close April 17.
RG: What are some of the great things that Government scholarships have helped people achieve?
KM: Many recipients have shared that by having the financial award they are able to focus more on their classes and get involved in college or university organisations without having the worry of how they and their parents are going to pay for their education.
The scholarships that the Bermuda Government offers consider a wide spectrum of disciplines and as a result any student should be able to apply for our scholarships and awards. This year we have promotional video clips on the Ministry of Education’s website, Facebook and Instagram pages of awardees sharing their college experience or providing advice for prospective applicants applying this year. Many of our applicants have been able to participate in some very interesting internships through their college or university where the internship has either been part of their programme or something they applied for through their college or university.