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Friday, March 5, 2021
Female student sitting amongst classmates and smiling in lecture room.
Students & Youth

Any student can get a scholarship – if they know when to look

Do your students need some good news? Here you go: Grade 12 is a student’s best opportunity for scholarships. There will never be another time in their lives where there are more opportunities and less competition. That’s because the majority of scholarships are designated by funders for students who are entering post-secondary for the first time, directly from high school.

In fact, there has never been another time in history when there are so many scholarships for so many different kinds of students. It used to be that scholarships were only for top students, but that’s not the case any more.

If your students need proof, tell them to Google “Cover Guy scholarship.” They’ll find it requires students to write an essay about “how hot tubs make our lives better.” That’s it. No grades, references, or volunteer experience required. Just hot tubs. (In case you’re wondering, Cover Guy is a hot tub cover manufacturer.)

Grade 12 presents a golden opportunity for students to get free money for post-secondary.

Timing is critical for success

So, what’s the best way for Grade 12 students to find scholarships during this golden window of opportunity? It’s probably not what you think.

Unfortunately, there is no one place to find them, and there is no one time of year to find them. They’re in different places, and they come out at different times during the year. Most people know they must look in different places for scholarships, but the second piece of information – timing – is critical for success with scholarships.

“There has never been another time in history when there are so many scholarships for so many different kinds of students.”

Scholarships are offered every month of the year. Many people are surprised to discover that some start as early as September of Grade 12. These early awards have deadlines in October and November, and then they’re gone. The opportunity has passed. However, different ones will open and close after that, throughout the entire Grade 12 year. The time when the most are available is from December to May, but scholarships are offered every month.

The strategy to find scholarships

There is a lot of information, online and elsewhere, about where to look for scholarships. However, where to look is only part of what you need to know. You must also know how and when to look. That’s the strategy piece that no one tells you, and it’s my best tip to find scholarships.

Simply put, the best strategy to find scholarships is for students to look for them regularly. Because scholarships open and close at different times throughout the year, all year long, it means they must look for them throughout the year, all year long.

Most students who come to me with problems finding scholarships usually have only looked for them at one time during the year. Here’s how about 80% of my conversations about finding scholarships go:

Student: “I looked for scholarships, but I didn’t find any that fit me.” 

Me: “Really. How many times did you look for them?”

Student: *looking a bit confused* “Uh, once.”

It’s very possible that if students only look once there won’t be anything that suits them. But, if they look in the right places regularly, I can pretty much guarantee they will find at least one, and probably several, that fit their profile.

This is not a one-and-done thing. The people who are successful in finding scholarships get strategic. They find good places to look, and then they check those places regularly, over time.

Infographic containing 3 quick tips to help students find scholarships: 1. Give them hope. 2. Let them know it's not a one-and-done. 3.  3. Tell them not to wait for free time.

How to set up a strategy

Here’s how I suggest students set up their search strategy: they should look in the places they’ve selected are best for them, bookmark or save them somehow, and then set a time to look in those places on a regular schedule. Tell them to put it in their Google calendar (or however they remind themselves to do things) and block off a chunk of time to do it. I suggest 30 minutes every two weeks from now until May or June.

This is a place where a parent, or other supporter, can be helpful. The student and their supporter can divide the areas to search, and each look in their respective places. Divide and conquer!

Final piece of advice

One final piece of advice: advise students not to wait for free time to do this. No one has free time any more. If students want to be successful with scholarships, they’ll need to make time to find them, and then make time to apply. Encourage them to put it in their schedule. They’ll be more likely to do it, and more likely to have success.

Janet MacDonald is a former university admissions officer who helps Canadian high school students find and apply for university entrance scholarships. Her student-friendly guidebook “How to Find and Win Scholarships” (https://www.mycampusgps.ca/scholarship-guidebook) has earned praise from school counsellors. For more great free information about scholarships, check out Janet’s award-winning blog.
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Janet MacDonald is a former university admissions officer who helps Canadian high school students find and apply for university entrance scholarships. Her student-friendly guidebook “How to Find and Win Scholarships” (https://www.mycampusgps.ca/scholarship-guidebook) has earned praise from school counsellors. For more great free information about scholarships, check out Janet’s award-winning blog.
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