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Find the right scholarship for you!

Jessica M. Barr

To paraphrase Jane Austin, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a high school student, in possession of a bit of common sense, must be in want of scholarships.

In other words, we all need money for school! But how do you go about getting it?

As spring approaches, so does mounting tension about next year. You may be thinking about leaving high school, working, going to college or university, and all of the rest of the great and stressful stuff that's involved in becoming a self-supporting adult.

PLAN AHEAD

If you're in grades nine through 11, it's not too early to start preparing. You won't need to start applying for scholarships yet, but you certainly can start to think about what will make you the best applicant. Marks are a huge issue, but don't overlook other important factors like extracurricular activities. Schools and scholarship administrators love seeing that you've been active in your community through volunteering, sports, arts, or even your summer jobs.

If you're in Grade 12 and planning to go to post-secondary school next September, now is the time to start looking for ways to fund your studies. And if you've already embarked on your post-secondary studies, it's not too late!

APPLY NOW!

One of the main sources of frustration for students looking for scholarships is the feeling that there's too much information out there and they don't know where to start. Never fear! Check out www.ScholarshipsCanada.com - with 57,000 scholarships totalling over $80 million, it's got everything you need to start your scholarship search. Create a profile and you'll be matched to the scholarships that suit you best.

"Every little bit counts." This should be your mantra as you prepare for post-secondary school. Most schools will offer you an automatic scholarship if your average is above a certain number (for example, if your average is in the nineties, you'll certainly be offered scholarships without having to apply for them). But don't stop there! Take the time to apply for extra scholarships… Think of it this way: why would you not want free money?

And don't get discouraged if your marks aren't stellar. About 80% of the scholarships on www.ScholarshipsCanada.com do not specify a minimum academic average. Many of the scholarships focus on other factors such as extracurricular activities, ethnic background, sports, disabilities, languages, and other interests and affiliations. Give it a try - it's worth it!

SCHOLARSHIP DOS AND DON'TS

DO

  • Pay attention to instructions and deadlines. No one's going to read a late or incorrect application.
  • Write a cover letter, as if you were applying for a job. List your qualifications and aspirations, and thank the administrators or jury for their time and consideration.
  • Spell correctly! Proofread (and get someone else to proofread) everything you write. Spelling and grammar errors will not help you get a scholarship.
  • Think carefully about your budget for the next school year. Consider how much you've got and how much you'll need - and then look at the difference between those two numbers. Then you'll know the minimum amount you're aiming for when applying for scholarships.
  • Consider the school you want to attend. Then check www.SchoolFinder.com as well as your prospective school's website for additional information on potential scholarships and financial aid options.

DON'T

  • Underestimate yourself. You may have qualifications you haven't considered. Have you ever volunteered? Acted in a school play? Taken a leadership role in your school, church, or community? All these things will make scholarship administrators sit up and take notice.
  • Be lazy! Working hard now will help you in ways you may not have thought of. Imagine getting enough scholarships that you'll be able to spend your summers relaxing and volunteering rather than working overtime and stressing about your budget.
  • Waste your time. While it is good to apply for as many scholarships as possible, it's important to read all the scholarship criteria carefully. If you're a guy who wants to study engineering, you don't want to spend your time applying for scholarships aimed at women in the arts.
  • Give up! It is normal to experience some failures on your road to success. If you don't get the scholarship or offer of admission you were hoping for, don't worry. There's plenty of time to upgrade your skills and marks and try again. You can also feel free to contact schools or scholarship administrators to ask questions or follow up. Good luck!

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