Tips in applying for scholarships
It is important for students and parents to remember that the vast majority of scholarships at Canadian universities are based on grades and do not require a separate application. The competition for those few scholarships that consider both grades and extracurricular activities is extremely intense and requires top marks and outstanding leadership in non-academic commitments. Such applications require a considerable investment of time, as they must be completed carefully if they are to impress a scholarship committee. Rushed applications are never successful!
It is crucial that students pay careful attention to the University Counselling Office deadlines posted for scholarship applications. In the case of nominated scholarships, we have to establish a deadline several weeks before the university’s deadline in order to compare applicants and select which ones we will nominate. If you are asking to be nominated for a scholarship at a particular university, that university should be your top choice destination in Canada. In order to make a fair comparison, we have to receive completed applications, not just an indication of interest in being nominated. In addition, there are often parts of the application that must be completed by a referee, an endorser, or our office and we have to build in sufficient time for this process. In order to be equitable to all applicants, we must insist that these deadlines are firm.
Most scholarship applications require transcripts. In order to ensure that transcripts are available to you before the application deadline, you must always email Ms Berndsen of your need for a transcript well in advance (generally 1 week). If you fail to do so, you risk that your application will not be complete in time to meet the deadline. For the most popular scholarships, we publish a transcript request deadline in the newsletter.
Remember that if the scholarship requires a letter of reference, you must first speak with the teacher, adviser, or coach. Once he or she has agreed to write on your behalf, you should download the Scholarship Referee Request Form (available on Haiku), fill it out and give it to the teacher to help him or her write a better letter. It is important to go to the Colleges I’m Applying to section of Naviance and add that person’s name to your referee section. This will allow the teacher to submit the letter via Naviance. Please try to give referees at least a month’s notice whenever possible. A good letter of reference takes time to write! It is courteous to write your referee a note of thanks (see the Naviance website for an exemplar) and to keep him or her updated on your status.
Your university counsellor is pleased to assist you in brainstorming ideas for application essays and in editing the final version. Don’t hesitate to ask!
In previous newsletters, I mentioned great online resources for researching scholarships such as Student Awards. Our library also has another valuable resource in its reference section: Brian Harris’s Scholarship: A Handbook of Scholarships, Awards & Financial Assistance for High School Students Entering First Year of a Canadian University. Check it out!