Nobody will give you a tremendous amount of money to finance your study and travel with no string attached but luckily the European Commission does. Of course, there is a limit to the quantity of scholarships and they receive more applications each year that they cannot possible accept every single potential candidate no matter how good. Sadly you cannot change the CGPA that you got from your undergraduate study years ago but what can you do NOW to stand out from the rest?
1) Choose wisely. There are over 100 Master programs offered each year, some are as general as environmental management and some can be really specialised such as hydroinformatic. Chances are, many more people coming from various backgrounds will opt for the general courses. Unless you have a really impressive background directly related to the courses you are applying to, I suggest you select the more specific ones.
2) Publication. You will receive a significant point for having a research work published that it is worthwhile to go back to your undergraduate thesis (if you do not have any publication record… no, the complaint letter about your noisy neighbour in the local paper does not count) and try to get it published in a relevant journal publication.
3) CV. It is a no-brainer but somehow often neglected. The admission panels receive thousands of resumes and they are normal human beings with inevitable stress hormones so make their job easier and they may notice you. There are many online guides that can help you polish your CV but the bottom line is, make sure it is effortless to read at a first glance.
4) Recommendation letter. If you are working or have worked before, try to get a strong recommendation letter from your current / previous employer. Since most of the offered Master programs consist of one semester of internship, this will show you that you are not just a bookworm but also someone practical who can do their job well in the industry.
5) Motivation letter. Be precise with real life examples and let them know what you can offer them and how the program can benefit you professionally. There are also numerous online guides that you can refer to in writing an exceptional motivation letter so make use of that.
6) Foreign language. Pick up a foreign language of the home university that you are applying to and state it in your CV. We are all attracted to foreigners who are open to our language and culture.
7) Organisation. Arrange your application form and documents appropriately. Read their website carefully to make sure you have all documents that they request. If they ask for the hard copy, please make certain that your application package will reach them before the deadline. They do not have time to e-mail every applicant each time there is something missing.
While the tips above can improve your chances of admission based on my experience and interaction with other successful applicants, please note there are other factors taken into consideration in the admission process and these can differ from one program to another. All the best!