By the time I became more aware of what scholarships were out there and the application process, it was already April. As I started applying late into the school year, I missed out on the chance to apply to big scholarships and ones that aimed to aid first-year students. Hopefully, this quick little guide will get you thinking about applying to scholarships so that you don’t regret not seizing the opportunity.
#1 – Research Early!
Research is the most important yet time-consuming aspect of the application process. One google search for scholarships will give you a comprehensive list of scholarships available for Canadian students. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in this process as winning money is a big deal. Hence, start early by looking into what scholarships are out there before the craziness of 12th grade begins.
Carefully read the applicant requirements, as you might find that you are not eligible for some scholarships. For example, some scholarships look for students who have fought cancer, while others require the student to be part of a soccer team. There is such a large array of scholarships that using an online tool can help narrow down the scholarships that match your profile. Scholar Tree is a good resource to use when researching. All you must do is fill out your profile and it will provide you with a list of scholarships which match your hobbies, interests, and academic achievements.
Keep in mind that it is not just the big companies that give out scholarships to students, there are many smaller ones that do as well. Keep an eye out for less popular scholarships as they usually have fewer applicants, making your chance of winning greater.
#2 – Get Your Application Together
After you have decided on which scholarships you are aiming for, start by putting your application together. From experience, most scholarships require two reference letters (preferably one from a teacher and one from a community leader/member), acceptance letter from your university/college, a transcript, and a written response. This may seem like a lot, but most components of a scholarship application can be reused.
I would recommend starting by reading about the company/organization that is providing the scholarship. Find out what values they are hoping to promote and what qualities they are looking for in the recipient. This will make your answers to the application questions more focused and directed. The written component varies based on the type of scholarship. Some are looking for an essay about a novel, while others want a detailed explanation on your experiences. There are scholarships that look for initiatives that you have led, like leading a food drive at school, or organizing a park clean-up. It doesn’t hurt to get a head start on the novel or to plan out an initiative. If you do not have any impactful volunteer or leadership experience, it might be a good idea to look into how you can help a cause that you are passionate about. Take the time to investigate the nitty-gritty details so you can plan and make the most out of your free time during the summer.
I would also consider asking mentors and teachers (in school and outside) for reference letters at least two weeks prior to the deadline. Give the person enough time to formulate their thoughts and write something meaningful for you. Getting someone you worked closely with can get you a stronger letter, but be sure to politely ask them to include key qualities and activities that the scholarship is looking for. It never hurts to keep a couple letters in hand in case you wish to use those letters again for another scholarship.
#3 – Meet the Deadlines
Submitting your application on time is not always easy. In the middle of deciding on a program, applying to various universities/colleges, and studying, it is easy to miss deadlines. I for one have overlooked the deadline dates in a rush to apply for my desired program. Take some time in the summer to map out the deadline dates using a calendar or journal to ensure that you complete the application to the best of your abilities. From experience, starting an application the day before it is due is not only tiring but disappointing as it often isn’t your best quality of work. Save yourself from regret by starting earlier so that you can review and edit your application before submitting.
#4 – Write, Submit, Repeat!
Oftentimes as students, we find ourselves doubting our self-worth. We constantly ask ourselves if we are good enough. I found myself in the same position when filling out my applications. I have applied to many scholarships and at the beginning; it was very disheartening to not hear back from any. Do not let that stop you from applying! The more you apply, the better you get at writing applications, answering questions, and even learning more about yourself through the process.
Take the chance and go for it because you never know, you just might win!