Jan 28 2023

Part 4: Impact of profile components on applying for a scholarship (USA)

Billy Well


There are several different types of resumes that may be used in different contexts:

  • In the US, university resumes may be more colorful and creative, showcasing a wide range of experiences and skills.

  • Master's resumes should be concise, typically no more than one page, and highlight your achievements and relevant skills in a clear and concise manner.

  • European master's resumes tend to be longer and more detailed, including a full list of responsibilities for each job.

  • US master's resumes can also be divided into two types: a traditional resume and a Quant resume. A Quant resume focuses on specific skills, such as language proficiency or technical skills, and includes detailed information about where and how these skills were acquired. A Quant resume may be used to apply for PhD programs as well.

PhD resumes in the US are typically longer and focus mainly on publishing, with limited space for business experience. If you have no prior research experience, you may submit a traditional resume similar to a master's resume and include a sample article or other relevant writing as a substitute for research experience.


In general, a resume is used to evaluate your skills and overall potential. While it is important to include relevant experiences in your resume, it is also important to avoid overcrowding it with too many details. Instead, you can use the essay to delve deeper into specific experiences or stories that are most meaningful or impactful to you. These stories may not be included in the resume, but can help to paint a more complete picture of your abilities and motivations. It is important to be authentic and genuine in your essay, rather than trying to force in additional information just for the sake of filling space.



This section is typically used for applicants to master's programs in engineering or design, but schools often consider it as an indicator of a candidate's potential rather than their talent. Having pre-doctoral research experience can demonstrate a strong interest in research and a desire to learn, which may be seen as a positive sign of potential. However, it is important to be aware that too much pre-doctoral research may not necessarily be seen as a positive, especially if it is perceived as being of low quality or if you have had difficulty working with your supervisors. It may be more valuable to have a master's degree from a more developed country before applying to a doctoral program in the US. Similarly, portfolios are often used to assess a candidate's qualifications and potential for further training, but it is important not to invest too much in this area. In addition to research, writing specialized blog articles or other relevant writing can also be an effective way to demonstrate your passion for a particular industry.


Many applicants do not give enough attention to the letters of recommendation and the people who write them. Vietnamese letters of recommendation often contain cliches and praise the achievements of the applicant, such as:

  • This friend is very talented.

  • This friend is very enthusiastic.

  • This friend is capable of competing for other awards under my guidance.

Such letters do not provide much useful information to the admissions committee and may be seen as lacking in credibility.


Effective cover letters should be personalized and linked to your resume and experience, rather than simply listing your accomplishments. The goal of a cover letter is to:


Effective cover letters should include specific anecdotes or experiences that the writer has had with the candidate. For example, a teacher might describe a time when the candidate demonstrated their caring and responsible nature, such as by stopping to help an orphaned friend who had fallen from their car on the street, even though it caused them to be late to school. A boss might describe the candidate's accomplishments and responsibilities at their current company, and how the candidate's attitude and work ethic have impressed them. By including these specific and personal examples, the writer can provide valuable insight into the candidate's character and potential as an employee or student. The admissions committee can then use this information to make a more informed decision, and can also compare it to the candidate's resume to see if the experiences and achievements described in the cover letter are reflected there.

The position of the person writing the letter of recommendation can be important, but a general letter from a boss may not be as effective as a letter that includes specific anecdotes and experiences. In some cases, it may be more valuable to have a letter of recommendation from someone who has worked closely with the candidate and can provide detailed insights into their character and abilities, even if they are not in a high-level position. It is also worth considering getting a letter of recommendation from a loyal customer or client, as they can speak to the candidate's skills and performance in a different context.

The purpose of the recommendation letters is to provide insight into the candidate's character and abilities from the perspective of someone who has worked or interacted with them. It is important that the letters are consistent with the story and themes presented in the candidate's essay. For doctoral level applicants, the recommendation letters can be especially influential in the application process, especially if they come from well-known figures in the industry or demonstrate the candidate's potential for research. It is also important to have a diverse range of letters that highlight different aspects of the candidate's personality and abilities.


Recommendation letters are very important in the application process, especially for doctoral programs. They should highlight different aspects of the candidate, such as responsibility, kindness, and talent. It is important to have a variety of recommendations, rather than all of them stating the same qualities. For those applying to doctoral programs, recommendation letters can be crucial, particularly if the writer is well known in the industry. In addition, research experience and letters of introduction to target schools may also be given more weight for those studying outside of the US. It is important to carefully consider the value and relevance of recommendation letters in the application process.


In the final stage of the application process, some schools may require an interview. These interviews often include specific questions, such as asking about a failure or success you've experienced or discussing your weaknesses. It's important to have a personal story that is not mentioned in your resume, transcripts, or essay, but still has a connection to your main qualifications. The challenge is to find a way to link your story to your main achievements in a way that is time-verifiable.


It's important to be honest and authentic in your application materials, including your resume, transcripts, and essays. Lying or faking information can be easily detected during an interview and can jeopardize your chances of getting accepted into the program. It's best to be prepared to talk about your experiences and achievements and ensure that they are consistent with the rest of your application. It's also important to be able to tell your story and synchronize it with the rest of your profile to give a holistic picture of who you are and what you bring to the table.



To summarize, it is important to have a well-rounded and consistent profile when applying for a scholarship or admission to a top school. This includes strong grades, relevant extracurricular activities, work experience, and letters of recommendation that showcase your strengths and unique experiences. It is also important to be prepared to discuss and synchronize your profile during the interview process. Faking or lying in your application materials is not recommended, as it is likely to be discovered during the interview. 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

The content of the series are translated from this blog.

Tags: Resume an Cover Letters