Scholarships: The key is to look for opportunities and apply

scholarshipIt’s estimated that each year $15 million worth of scholarships go unclaimed in Canada (you can read the full article here). That’s $15 million of free money that could have a major impact on the cost of post-secondary education. And that cost can be intimidating, if not downright frightening.

Depending on your particular needs (will you live at home or on campus, how will you get to and from school, etc.), it can cost $20,000 or more for each year of your diploma or degree program. That’s a lot of money.

Many students use student loans or lines of credit to help pay for college or university. These need to be paid back—with interest. Scholarship money is free money. It never has to be repaid.

Applying for a scholarship is something that every student should consider.

There is a wide-range of scholarships available. For example, there is over $50 million in entrance scholarships available to students of Ontario colleges and universities each year.

How to apply

At Eastview, we recommend that students register at www.studentawards.com and www.scholarshipscanada.com. These act like electronic match-making services between an applicant’s strengths and interests and available scholarships. When setting up your online account, include:

  • year of study
  • special circumstances (i.e. injury, orphan)
  • financial need
  • academic average
  • heritage
  • field of study
  • affiliation
  • activities or involvements

There are a number of other websites that can also help you find available scholarships. These include:

There is also a wide range in how much work is required to apply for various scholarships. As a general rule of thumb, if a particular application requires a lot of work it often means that the amount of money available will be higher and the amount of competition will be lower, as not all candidates want to put the effort in.

Here are some helpful tips for putting a scholarship application together:

  • ensure you meet the criteria
  • do the appropriate background work and find out exactly what the scholarship is looking for
  • match your writing to your audience
  • complete every requirement and make sure you have collected and provided all the requested materials
  • proofread all items in your package
  • put the items in your package in the order the components were listed on the application
  • use an 8 ½ X 11 or 8 ½ X 14 envelope rather than folding your documents
  • keep a record of everything you send.

It is important that you don’t procrastinate—allowing plenty of time to complete applications is critical. You may need to ask a reference to write a letter of recommendation for you, and you will likely need to order an official transcript from your high school. These steps take time.

It’s also important that you know that scholarship administrators—just like potential employers—may well do a web search on potential applicants. You should consider what sort of social media activity an administrator would see if they searched you. Your social media actions reflect on you…think about whether your reflect is positive or negative. Visit a high school guidance office if you want to talk or learn more about this.

To learn more about the benefits of scholarships and how to find and apply for them, most secondary schools offer information sessions. At Eastview, we encourage our students, parents and staff to come to one of three fall workshops about scholarships.

There’s still time to attend our final workshop of the season on October 22 and 7 p.m. This is open to all parents in the SCDSB.