Are Scholarships Just for Brainiacs?
You often hear about all of the scholarships received by the students who are at the top of the class or all-stars on their team. Entrance scholarships, academic excellence scholarships, and Dean’s list/Honour Roll Awards are prevalent in conversations surrounding student awards. What many post-secondary applicants do not know is that there are a numerous awards available for the average student. There are awards that recognize skills and accomplishments beyond athletics and academics. Examples of these include scholarships based on financial need, volunteer work or extra-curricular activities. Just because you do not consider yourself a “brainiac” does not mean there are not grants and scholarships out there for you!
You should always start your scholarship search with the college or university you plan on attending. The financial aid office or the school’s Awards and Financial Aid website are good places to start looking for internal scholarships. While you are searching for scholarships, consider looking into bursary opportunities as well. Applying for many of these scholarships and bursaries is as simple as filling out an application form and submitting it to your financial aid office (in-person or online). However, some applications require more time and thought. For example, some may ask you to provide references, a writing sample, or a letter explaining why you are a great candidate for this scholarship/bursary. Many students are not willing to put in the extra effort to apply to these scholarships, but if you are willing to put in the time it could greatly pay off.
In addition to scholarships through your school, be sure to research scholarships within your community and/or through your parents’ or guardians’ workplaces. Many community organizations or clubs in your area may have scholarships that go unadvertised and you did not even know about. For example, 4-H Ontario has a webpage designated to grants and scholarships available for 4-H members and the general public, so check out your local associations’ websites or talk to someone you know within the club. Many workplaces also offer grants or scholarships to children of their employees. Just ask your parent or guardian to check their newsletter or their company’s website to see if there may be scholarships available to assist you with paying for your education. Every little bit helps!
After you look at your internal school scholarships and community clubs and organizations, consider looking into more general scholarship websites. Some scholarship websites offer a wide variety of general scholarships from private donors looking to make a difference. Websites such as studentawards.com provide many different scholarship opportunities relevant to your interests, program or location. It is important to remember that the more time and effort you are willing to put into the application, the easier it will be for the donor to get to know you as a person – not just an applicant. There is a scholarship somewhere suited to you, even if you are not a brainiac. Talk to your guidance counsellor or financial aid office for more specific information about scholarships.