It is approaching the time of year where grade 12 students need to be thinking about scholarships and returning post secondary students must as well. To help me make this point let me start with a story.
So about a year ago this time a young man realized that he got accepted to the university that he had dreamed of going to since he was a young kid. He was a smart guy o he went to the guidance office and picked up the application form for every scholarship he school offered. He also signed up for Student Awards, a site that keeps track of scholarships in Canada. Then he looked at the deadline for each scholarship and realized that most of them were not due until the start of August, meaning there was lots of time to get to the forms.
Then life got in the way. He started his job where he was three hours from home Monday to Friday working long hours. On the weekends he would come home and see family, friends, and just make time to relax. At the start of August he went away up north for the long weekend. To pack he needed his backpack. So he took out all the old schoolwork and papers that were still in there from he last day of school. Only then did he realize all the scholarship applications were still in there. Quickly he scrambled through them and saw he had missed the deadline on several, and that some were due the next day. He sat down and would fill out the form, only to get to the end and realize he needed a transcript from the school. This happened over and over again, optimism and then defeat. It was the middle of the summer and the school was closed. So in the end this otherwise responsible student applied for exactly zero scholarships.
I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and figure that you already guessed this story is about me. Despite my high opinion of myself and my intelligence this story is evidence to the contrary. Everybody who gives advice on the transition from high school to college or university will tell you to apply for as many scholarships as you can, and I thought I took that advice to heart by taking all the forms. But I failed to actually, you know, apply for them.
This I think is one of the biggest things a student can do to earn money for school. If you work out the hourly pay you earn for applying to scholarships it would be quite impressive. If I were to do it over again I would get a transcript from my high school guidance counselor as soon as I could, make dozens of copies of it, and set out one weekend where all I did was fill out the forms, write out the essays, etc until I had applied for any scholarship for which I was eligible.
Lots of scholarships require you to write an essay, which I considered a major burden. But realistically these essays are very short and are almost always about you, so the topic isn’t hard. Or the essays are about why you deserve the scholarship. I found this type of essay tough because I am sure lots of people deserve the scholarship more than me, so I had to do a little embellishing.
There are scholarships for lots of specific people. I remember that one scholarship at my high school, only one person was eligible for it, ever. Luckily they found that out because they applied for it.
And there are other sources of scholarships than just your former school. I mention Student Awards up there, they have a database of thousands of scholarships, and you can search for ones for which you meet the criteria. That is a good place to start.
Oftentimes your parents’ place of employment or union will have scholarships for the children of employees. I know that my dad’s union offers a scholarship, but alas, I also didn’t apply for that one (it needed a letter of recommendation and the teacher I got to write it procrastinated a lot, and then I procrastinated even more after that).
Want easy money? There are scholarships out there that exist for the sole purpose of giving you money. You want money and they want to give you money. All you have to do is apply for them. Do not miss the chance that so many do. You can capitalize on the mistakes of people like me. Apply for every scholarship you can, there won’t be many times where you can get money for filling in a simple form and you write a lot of essays for no monetary gain, might as well get paid for some of them.
My biggest mistake was not applying for all those scholarships, and I hope you take my word that it is a worthwhile thing to do.