With two months left of the regular high school year, now is the time many Grade 12 students are beginning to wonder what comes next.
And more importantly, how do I pay for it?
Sometimes, the answer is university or college. With university and college come various financing options. Various non-university institutions offer scholarships and bursaries for which students can apply, based on infinitely diverse criteria.
If you look hard enough, there’s a scholarship out there for everyone.
I started planning for my scholarship applications in April of my Grade 11 year.
I researched different schools to which I wanted to apply (the University of New Brunswick was my first choice) and from there began to research different types of scholarships.
Many scholarships are based on grades. So if grades are a strong point, there are many options in that area, some of which don’t even require a desperate application.
Some schools offer academic scholarships just based on a student’s transcript. This saves a bit of time for everyone involved, and timing is key.
Some scholarships have early deadlines. It’s April, and that means that many deadlines have already passed.
But worry not. There are still other options.
Many private organizations still have their applications open. A simple web search can say how much longer you may have to complete applications and fill them in, but there are some scholarships that are open even into June.
If academics aren’t your strong suit, don’t ignore scholarships.
There are many scholarships that are based on extracurricular activities and volunteering. Some schools offer these scholarships, but there are also many offered by private organizations.
Google is your best friend when it comes to scholarship applications. Almost every interest, sport, or volunteer position has some kind of scholarship associated with it, and the more specific the interest, the fewer applications the offering organization receives for the scholarship.
I filled out dozens of scholarship applications when I was getting ready for school, and I developed a handy system.
I created a resume in cover letter format, which is more streamlined than some resume formats, and I sat down and put everything into it I’d ever done – eEvery school award, activity, conference, everything. I called it my “Master File.”
From there, every time I needed to submit an application with a resume, or submit points about myself and my activities in short form, I just copied the master file and edited out parts that weren’t relevant.
For example, if I were filling out a scholarship related to English and literature, I would leave in the bullet point about volunteering in the library in high school. If I were applying for a sports scholarship, I may take out that line and use that space to add a point about student coaching or horseback riding.
I also kept some essays in reserve. Almost anyone doing scholarship applications will have to write essays, which can be time-consuming.
However, most essays follow one of two forms: “Why do you think you deserve this scholarship?” and “What has inspired you?”
Pre-writing an essay on each of these topics and leaving blank spots where you can add in specifics on each individual scholarship can save a lot of time. I’m pretty sure I used to same motivational essay for at least 15 applications. Editing and tweaking one essay takes a lot less time than writing separate essays.
Trying to figure out financing for university or college can be stressful. Since I wanted to go to school out-of-province, I knew I had to get scholarships or bursaries to help pay for my education. It really got down to the wire. Schools have deadlines by which you have to accept your offer of admission, and some schools didn’t give me scholarship offers until right before I had to accept or decline.
It was scary. However, the time I spent perfecting my scholarship applications is some of the best time I’ve ever spent on anything. Without scholarships, I might not have been able to go to the University of New Brunswick.
It’s April, and yes, some deadlines are passed, but please – it’s not too late.
If you’re planning on attending post secondary, get Googling and find yourself some finances. It’s worth it in the end.
Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues.