Study in Canada: Scholarship tips for students

For some students, scholarships are simply an “added bonus” for their university studies, but for other students and families, the funds can be the difference between continuing to university or leaving school for financial reasons.

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Being informed about what is available to you and how to apply can make a big difference for your postsecondary studies. Scholarship truths

While grades and extracurricular activities are the basis for many scholarships decisions, there are numerous scholarship types that cater to a wide spectrum of students. For example, some scholarships are “regional” (applicants need to originate from a particular town or area) while others can be more select and designated for a specific applicant (someone with a disability or a certain cultural background).

Fact-finding

Who offers scholarships? Everyone from schools, companies and charities to governments or private individuals. Your starting point in a search for scholarships should begin at home with your parents. Ask whether the company or organization (even unions) in which your parents work offer any scholarships. Most companies that offer scholarships to employees or children of employees don’t advertise externally. Parents could check with the human resources department for any scholarship offerings. Are you or any members of your family veterans or children of veterans? Veteran organizations give out a fair amount of scholarships. Maybe your parents belong to a lodge or a club that has a scholarship for members or children of members. You could also inquire whether your church, sports, service group or club has any special scholarships available. Sometimes high schools offer awards or have specific scholarships associated with them. Generally speaking, the guidance office or the principal will have information on these programs.

Do I always need to apply?

Most scholarships require an application, but some are designed to be an automatic consideration, with no application necessary. A number of universities across the country, for example, provide automatic entrance scholarships for students with high school averages above 80 percent, and the amount available is often calculated on a sliding scale depending on your marks.

Know yourself

When applying for scholarships, it’s important to know what you have in the way of strengths. The majority of scholarships are still based on grades, but some administrators are starting to look for other attributes as well. To know what you can get from a scholarship, you have to first know what you have in the way of assets. Do you:

  • Participate in any extracurricular activities?
  • Participate in school events?
  • Get involved in sporting events?
  • Help out in your community?
  • Volunteer anywhere?

Have you ever: :

  • Been in a school performance?
  • Run for student council?
  • Been on an exchange program?

Anything that differentiates you from the other students applying for scholarships is important. Try sitting down with your family and brainstorm to develop a list. Something that seems routine to you might be extraordinary to someone else.

Resources

The website www.ScholarshipsCanada.com is a comprehensive scholarship portal and provides a large searchable database of scholarships with well over 60,000 individual awards, and studentawards.com is another free scholarship search service devoted to helping students locate financial assistance. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada delivers more than 3,500 scholarships each year to young people interested in pursuing higher education. AUCC also manages more than 175 scholarships and over $11 million in student awards which are available both for the general public and dependents of employees of certain organizations. Information on these awards can be found at www.aucc.ca/scholarships. In addition to the above resources, consult the financial aid office of the universities you want to attend to find out more about the available scholarships and awards. You can also check out www.canlearn.ca for information on government student loans such as the Canada Study Grants, and the Canadian Millennium Scholarships and other financial assistance tools and information.

Apply, apply, apply!

Many students underestimate their chances and some scholarships remain unawarded each year because there are few or no applicants. Remember that each scholarship application becomes easier, because much of the information requested can be re-used. Invest your time in scholarship and bursary applications and the financial pay-offs can be very impressive!

Tips to consider Here are some useful tips to consider when filling out your scholarship applications:

Be informed

Make sure you know everything about the award before you apply for it. Be sure you meet all the requirements, and be realistic in determining whether you qualify. The last thing you want is to be eligible for a scholarship but somehow have missed some important detail of the application package.

Respect deadlines

Some scholarships deadlines are as early as September for the following year, while others are as late as June. In any case, be sure to prepare well ahead of time. Even if you aren’t going to start school next year, it is advisable to start looking now – not to apply, necessarily, but to see what’s out there in the way of scholarships, grants and bursaries. See what kinds of deadlines and requirements exist. It’s better to know about an essay that’s required for a scholarship nine months before it’s due rather than finding out about it a week before.

Review your documents

Similar to a job application or a resumé, spelling, grammar and sentence structure are very important in any kind of scholarship application. Dedicate time to proofreading, and keep it simple. You should also stick to the limits given. (i.e. many judges will not read more than two pages if a two page limit is stated.) Think of it as a job Finally, try to think of an application letter for a scholarship the same way you would think of a letter you’d write when applying for a job. What makes you more deserving than anyone else for this award? Keep in mind that scholarship wins are a wonderful addition to your CV. Good luck!

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