The New Colombo Plan (NCP) will soon begin accepting applications for the prestigious scholarship. Piero Craney, current NCP scholar for Taiwan, offers his top 8 tips for applying for the New Colombo Plan.
The Written Application Stage
1. Understand the goals of the NCP
My advice is to identify an issue and clearly articulate how the NCP will help you develop the skills or knowledge to address this issue in the future for the benefit of Australia.
Talking about how the NCP is an invaluable opportunity with great benefits will only answer half of the question and often be a wasted opportunity. Thus, your application must demonstrate:
- what you can offer the program;
- what skills you will develop on exchange; and
- how such skills will help Australia’s future strategic position in the region.
For example, I study law but I only wanted to study Chinese on exchange, so I wrote that while foreign direct investment from Chinese companies is increasing, there are not many bilingual lawyers in Australia to help facilitate these inbound transactions.
2. Utilise the NCP’s “Advice to Applicants”
Tthe NCP Secretariat has uploaded feedback to applicants about previous rounds. This is an invaluable resource to guide you when you write your written response.
3) Be concise
Given the word limit, you need to make sure every word counts and carries weight. Avoid waffling on and using complex sentences that will confuse the reader. I recommend reading your response out-loud and if you notice a phrase that sounds off, then modify or delete it.
4) Use your networks
Be proactive and approach past NCP scholars, and ask them if they have time to review your written response. Even if you do not know past scholars personally, most are willing to assist anyone who is currently applying.
Important also to remember that you are only competing with applicants for the same destination, so if you know a friend who is applying for a different country then team up with them and review each other’s applications.
5) Ask the right referee
Choose your referees carefully. Do not choose your referee based on position or seniority but rather on how well you think they can comment on your ability in relation to the selection criteria. Most often, a tutor will be able to provide a more genuine and thorough assessment of you than a course-convenor or faculty dean.
6) Know the Answers
You may not know the questions but you should know the answers. Any question will probably derive from selection criteria and involve you coming up with examples of key achievements, skills or past experiences. So reflect upon these and have them ready for any question they may throw at you.
7) Follow the STAR
the STAR method of answering questions is a great way to structure your responses in a concise and confident manner. STAR stands for: Situation; Task; Action; and Result. However, use it as a guide only and do not be too formulaic with your responses as you may come off as too robotic.
8) Be confident
Always easier said than done, but there are some ways to appear more confident even when you are not a naturally confident person.
Two tips to appear more confident:
- Firstly, when answering questions, always make sure you are constantly scanning the panel and lock on to everybody’s eyes at least once. Doing so will make your answers more inclusive by engaging the whole panel in your thoughts.
- Secondly, the use of hand gestures can demonstrate passion and confidence. However, don’t over do it because it can be distracting.
Find More About the New Colombo Plan Scholarship
Read stories from Asia Options readers who have successfully applied for and experienced the NCP program, including their tips, highlights and study programs.
- New Colombo Plan: Asia-bound scholarship on steroids
- An Offer You Can’t Afford to Ignore: New Colombo Plan Scholarship
- Ryan Cunningham on his New Colombo Plan experience in China
- Clarence Ma on her New Colombo Plan experience in Japan
- Rose Vassel New Colombo Scholar’s first impressions of Taiwan
- How to apply for a New Colombo Mobility Grant