Scholarships

There are many opportunities for students to earn and achieve financial support for post-secondary studies. 

Students should actively seek out and research all available financial support. They can see their guidance counselor for more details. As scholarships and bursaries have firm guidelines and application deadlines, students should leave themselves ample time to complete the application process. Students should make note of all deadlines and ensure they have all documentation in on time. There are many opportunities available for scholarship outside of grade 12 as well. It is never too soon to begin to seek out opportunities and to apply. 

A scholarship is awarded first on the basis of academic achievement while a bursary is awarded primarily on the basis of financial need. Neither has to be repaid. More Information is available from Student Services.

Many post-secondary institutes and scholarship granting agencies, require references. Teachers and administration write many letters for students. Being specific in the purpose of the reference letter and ensuring students allow ample time to
complete the letter is always very helpful and makes for a stronger reference in the end.

For more details on 2019-2020 scholarship opportunities, click here

Tips for Successful Applications

Applying for an award takes time and effort. As with any project with a firm deadline, you should begin compiling the necessary information well in advance. Plan to work a minimum of 1-2 hours on each application. The entire process of preparing and submitting your application package, including obtaining references and writing essays, could take up to one month. Do not leave applications to the last minutes. Most are complex and involve more than just filling in blanks on a form.

Here are a few general points to consider in preparing your scholarship application:

  • Consult the Scholarship Coordinator (guidance counsellor) for assistance in completing your application and discovering what awards you might be best suited to apply for.
  • Tailor your application to meet the criteria and eligibility for the award.
  • Make sure each additional page (i.e. essay) has your name and a page number on it.
  • Make sure you have completed all the required information for the application.
  • Do not include extra materials not mentioned in the Terms, because additional pages are often discarded. Focus on quality not quantity.
  • Remember to keep a copy of your completed application for yourself.
  • Neatness matters!

Terminology

Scholarships and bursaries are awarded upon consideration of several criteria. The most common criteria are academic achievement, citizenship qualities and financial need. Some awards are based on only one of these criteria, some on two, others on all three. The following descriptions will be helpful in determining your eligibility:

Academic Achievement usually refers to your overall final average or, in some instances, your final mark in a particular group of subjects, or over several grades.

Citizenship Qualities usually takes into consideration your extra-curricular activities (in and out of school, e.g. clubs, teams, organizations) and your overall contribution to the school (initiative, cooperation, volunteerism, leadership, etc.)

Financial Need takes into consideration your family’s ability to contribute financially to further education (e.g., limited family income, number of children, other financial commitments, extenuating circumstances) as well as your costs associated with attending post-secondary institutions.

Stipend is the value or amount of the award that the recipient will receive.

The Application Form/How Do You Apply?

Read and Follow the Applications Instructions Carefully

 This seems rather obvious, but often details are missed because an important part of the instructions was not read.

  • Accuracy is your top priority.
  • The application form should be hand printed or typed, using 12-point font (Arial often preferred type).
  • Make your application visually attractive and easy to read.
  • Use all the space provided, but do not use more – unless specifically requested as extra pages are discarded.
  • Proofread all documents carefully. Plan on proofreading each document at least three times – preferably by three different people.
  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Errors can result in an instant loss of credibility by reviewers who review large numbers of applications.
  • Be sure you have not cut and pasted from a similar document and left in references to a different award.

Academic History / Transcripts

You can ask your Guidance Counsellor to provide you with an unofficial transcript which will need to be signed by them as well as have the school seal placed on it. If a scholarship asks you to send an official transcript, than you must contact Alberta Learning and request this through them. There is a $10 fee for each transcript they send.

Scholarship Essay

The purpose of your essay is to present a solid case for why you are deserving of this award. Follow the instructions carefully on the specific topic you are to write about. Essays and statements should demonstrate evidence of solid writing skills and knowledge of the subject or theme. The essay must be written by you, not your family, friends or any third party.
Plagiarism may leave a black mark on your record for life.

Scholarship essays vary dramatically in subject. However, most of them require a personal experience or opinion. The most important aspect of your scholarship essay is the subject matter. Some people may devote about 1-2 weeks simply to brainstorming ideas. To begin brainstorming subject ideas consider the following points. From brainstorming, you may find a subject you had not considered at first.

  • What are your major accomplishments, and why do you consider them accomplishments?
  • Do not limit yourself to accomplishments for which you have been formally recognized, since the most interesting essays often are based on accomplishments that may have seemed unimportant at the time but become crucial when placed in the context of your whole life. This is especially true if the scholarship committee receives a list of your credentials anyway.
  • Do you possess or exhibit an attribute, quality, or skill that distinguishes you from everyone else? How did you develop this attribute?
  • Consider your favorite books, movies, works of art, etc. Have these influenced your life in a meaningful way? Why are they your favorites?
  • What was the most difficult time in your life, and why? How did your perspective on life change as a result of the difficulty?
  • Have you ever struggled mightily for something and succeeded? What made you successful?
  • Have you ever struggled mightily for something and failed? How did you respond?
  • If you could do anything right now, what would you most like to be doing?
  • Where would you most like to be? Who, of everyone living and dead, would you most like to be with, or meet? These questions should help you realize what you love most.
  • Have you experienced an epiphany, a moment when it seems as if your eyes were opened to something you were previously blind to?
  • What is your strongest, most unwavering personality trait? Do you maintain strong beliefs or adhere to a specific philosophy? How would your friends characterize you?
  • What would they write about if they were writing your scholarship essay for you?
  • What have you done outside of the classroom that demonstrates qualities sought after by universities? Of these, which means the most to you?
  • What are your most important extracurricular or community activities? What made you join these activities? What made you continue to participate in them?
  • What are your dreams of the future? When you look back on your life in thirty years, what would it take for you to consider your life successful? What people, things, and accomplishments do you need? How does this particular scholarship it into your plans for the future?

An essay can have many purposes, but the basic structure is the same: introduction, body, and summary/conclusion. You may be writing an essay to argue for or against a particular point of view, or to explain the steps necessary to complete a task. Either way, your essay will have the same basic format.

Here are some tips to getting started:

  • The essay should be written so that someone who is not aware of the topic or theme can understand your reasoning and conclusions. Selection committees have a sharp and disapproving eye for jargon and unclear reasoning.
  • Demonstrate that you have a solid grasp of important issues in the field, and are familiar with recent and relevant issues/articles/literature.
  • Ask friends and family members (especially your teachers) and fellow students to read a draft. Give them sufficient time to do this properly. Give yourself time to make changes.
  • If you undertake a major revision, get more feedback.
  • Cite all references. Do not plagiarize.
  • Pay particular attention to the instructions for the essay/statement.
  • Space is limited; use it wisely to explain critical assumptions, concepts and conventions.

The essay plays an important role in the selection process and you should take particular care to ensure that you tailor the written statement in your application to the terms of reference for the specific award(s) for which you are applying. Don't let the thought of putting pen to paper daunt you. Just get started!

References

The content of the letters of reference are not completely out of your control. Consider the type of scholarship, grant, award, or position you are seeking in order to choose the best referee for the task. It is important to choose the right referee. Choose someone who knows you well and who can attest to the qualities that are required by the eligibility and criteria or terms of reference for that award. Your referee must have first-hand experience of what you can do. The longer they have known you, the better reference they can write for you. Letters from referees who hold senior positions such as Principal or Department Head are only impressive if they know you personally and have worked with you, not if they are writing from the reports of others (hearsay).

Keep these points in mind as you are considering your references:

  • Give the referees a copy of your application form, the award’s edibility and criteria and any other information that may assist them.
  • Give them the deadline date for the scholarship/award.
  • Give the referee all required forms and/or envelopes.
  • Give them your resume or a an outline of all your accomplishments as this will assist them in writing the recommendation.
  • The referee does not have to use all the information you provide, but will be grateful for your help.
  • Give the referees at least one week to write your letter for you.
  • Try to choose a referee who is a good communicator and can articulate your strengths.
  • Thank those who have written letter of recommendation for you.

Deadlines

There are a number of different deadlines to keep in mind when you apply for any kind of award. Be sure to check with your Scholarship Coordinator to confirm deadline dates for your school. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Summary

There are many awards available for students proceeding to post-secondary education. Be sure to organize your time and allow yourself enough time to prepare and gather all materials. Take time to check your application more than once. 

Watch your high school and post-secondary institution’s website, newsletter, and student awards office for other award opportunities throughout the year. 

Don’t be discouraged if you are not successful in any one competition. Apply every year and look for other competitions and awards for which you are eligible.

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Scholarship & University Sites

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