Scholarship Tips


  • Start close to home with parents/grandparents’ employers or affiliations:
    • Does the company or organization you or your parents work for offer any scholarships? Some companies offer scholarships to employees or children of employees and choose not to advertise outside the company
    • Similarly, do you or your parents belong to a union or an employee organization? Some unions are reluctant to post information about scholarships anywhere except internally, since their scholarships are open only to members or children of members. Check with your or your parent’s union rep or their office
    • Are you or any members of your family veterans or children of veterans? Veteran organizations give out vast numbers of scholarships. Maybe your parents belong to a lodge or a club that has a scholarship for members or children of members
    • Look into the activities you are involved with such as work, clubs and organizations.
  1. Follow next with school or school district websites or government websites such as: studentawards.comSD 42 (look under “student”)
  2. The internet has several scholarship guides. These can be paper or digitally based. A good example is: Scholarships Canada
  3. Conduct an internet search for scholarships offered by public/private companies or organizations, charities, or private individuals. An example of local community service clubs and special interest groups can be found at: District of Maple Ridge


As you locate each scholarship you will need to determine whether or not you should apply for the scholarship.


It may sound strange, but as a student with limited amounts of time, you need to be selective in choosing the scholarships for which you spend the time to prepare an application. *Plan on spending minimally 15 hours per application.

  • Before applying for a scholarship, make sure that you are the type of person or student that the foundation is looking for
  • First and foremost, your demographic and academic information should match their scholarship requirements. Apply only if you are eligible.


  • Fortunately, many scholarships now have their own website where you can download the scholarship application
  • For the remainder of awards however, foundations employ a variety of systems that revolve around you contacting them to obtain the application. This may mean calling their phone number and leaving a mailing address, filling it a form on their website or e-mailing their office, or even mailing in a request.


A good idea is to read through the entire application and make a list of everything that is required on a separate sheet of paper. This should then be attached to the application. It will be nice to have all the requirements on one page–especially since many applications list each of the requirements separately. Evaluate yourself in relation to the requirements:

  • What career do you wish to pursue?
  • How do your goals and ambitions relate to the implied goals of the scholarship?
  • How do your qualifications compare to the requirements of the scholarship?
  • What are your past successes, achievements, honours received and positions of leadership held?
  • What are your abilities and potential?
  • Where do you want to see yourself in five years? Ten years?


  • Make multiple copies of the scholarship applications
  • Approx. 90% of the scholarships require applicants to submit a front sheet/cover page that includes basic biographical information, and sometimes responses to short-answer questions
  • If you have illegible or messy handwriting (and even if you don’t) you may want to consider typing the application even if they allow you to use pen
  • Remember that the cover page is the first thing that a scholarship evaluator will see of your application, appearances matter!

Personal Statement The personal statement is one of the most critical factors in the application; through it, as the applicant, you’re presenting the first real solid picture of yourself as a quality person and as a student;

  • The personal statement should not reiterate information already contained in transcripts, etc. It needs to paint a picture of you as an individual, differentiating between you and the other applicants
  • A compelling personal statement must help you stand out against the other applicants. Use it also as an opportunity to explain or contextualize any gaps in the academic record
  • After reading your personal statement, the scholarship selectors should think of you as the perfect recipient for their award! They’re handing out a lot of money are ensuring that the recipient they choose is the best suited to receive it!

Activity List Before you start your personal statement, compile a list of all the activities you have taken an interest in, been involved with, lead or have been a member of. The following list will help you develop your ideas and create the most complete listing possible:

  • Awards: Were you the student of the month, student of the year? Did you receive an award for your extra-curricular activities?
  • Clubs: What clubs at school were you involved in? Were you in any school plays? Did you write for the school paper or yearbook? Were you involved with a religious youth group?
  • Co-op Jobs: Where did you work? What did you do? What did you learn?
  • International Exchanges: Did you travel abroad during school to study or volunteer? What did you learn about the culture?
  • Part-time Jobs: Were you a cashier or clerk, babysitter, delivery person, courier, waiter, lawncare worker, camp counsellor, painter, etc.? Even if you had a really menial job that you hated – include it.
  • Projects: Did you work on any large projects that you are particularly proud of?
  • Scholastic Achievement: Did you get high marks? What was your average? Were you on the honour list? Which subject(s) do you excel in?
  • School Associations: Were you involved with your school council or athletic association? Yearbook committee? Were you a student representative for the parent-teachers association? Do you assist with school preparation for events throughout the year? Do you help plan school dances/functions?
  • Sports: What was your position on the school team? Were you the captain, co-captain, or manager? What skills did you learn? Did you organize bottle drives? Fundraising events?
  • Student Government: Were you the president, secretary, treasurer, vice-president, class representative, or grade representative?
  • Volunteer work at school: Were you a tutor? Coach’s assistant? Office helper? Library assistant? Teacher’s assistant? Technical support? Student Aide?
  • Volunteer work out of school: Local hospital? Local public school? Local organization? Government office? Community newspaper? Sports team? Daycare centre? Nursing home? Describe your duties and state what you learned as a result of these experiences.

Relate YOUR Experiences After you’ve compiled your list, think about how your experiences during high school have contributed to your personal growth.

Did they help you develop: Maturity? Responsibility? Teamwork skills? Punctuality? Leadership skills?

Introduce your involvement by assigning at least one skill or quality that you gained from the experience to the activity.

Writing a Good Scholarship Essay Many scholarship competitions require a written essay. Scholarship committees do this for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is to get an idea of what the person who’s applying for the scholarship is like. Yes, GPA, community service, volunteerism and leadership are important qualities, but by the time you’ve gotten to where you&rsquore being considered, everyone you’re competing against will also have strong records in all these areas. And so the scholarship committee will read your essay to see what sets you apart from the crowd, looking for a reason to select you over all the others. So, the essay can be the make or break portion of your application

  • Make sure you use concrete examples to provide evidence that you satisfy their criteria
  • Identify the sponsor’s goals. Try to understand the sponsor’s motivation in offering the award. Direct your application towards satisfying these goals
  • So when you’re writing your essay, keep asking yourself if you’d find your essay compelling if someone else had written it
  • Don’t have a pity party, but let them know you’ve prevailed over difficult circumstances. And don’t simply mention your memberships in different groups-write about things you did that demonstrate leadership and initiative, and any active role you played in addressing a need in your community
  • It should go without saying, but spell check and proofread your essay, and have at least one other person proofread it before submitting it
  • Read it out loud-you may catch errors that don’t stand out when reading it;
  • Check your word length, and edit if necessary-scholarship committees don’t look kindly on applicants who ignore their rules
  • Avoid slang at all costs, but don’t come off as a pseudo intellectual, either
  • And ask someone whose opinion you trust to read your essay and give you constructive criticism

Letters of Recommendation/Letters of Reference

  • Strong letters of recommendation are extremely important to most scholarships
  • Letters should come from teachers who are familiar not only with your academic abilities, but also with your personal interests and background, and how those relate to your potential success
  • Effective letters of recommendation are detailed, specific, and contextualize your achievements. It is helpful if the recommender can attest to the appropriateness of your proposed program or suitability to the award
  • Approach letter-writers as soon as possible. Remember that professors and other instructors are quite busy and will need some time, usually a few weeks, to work on a good letter of recommendation. When you are approaching the recommender, discuss your plans and let them know what you hope to study and why you want to apply. These discussions may help you clarify your plans and will help reestablish your relationships with your recommenders. Provide them with a written description of the scholarship and copies of your personal statement, proposed academic program, transcripts and activities/honors list


  • Not every scholarship will require a transcript
  • When an application requires a transcript, you need to take their request seriously and mail (or have mailed) a transcript well before the deadline
  • In the academic world, there are two types of transcripts: ‘unofficial’ and ‘official’. An unofficial transcript is a listing of coursework. Unofficial transcripts are normally acceptable only for campus-based scholarships and awards. An official transcript is printed by the school office on official paper and includes the seal of the school and the signature of the Student Records Clerk
  • Ordering official transcripts, like letters of recommendation, requires some advanced planning

Resume Some scholarship applications will include a space on the form to list activities and honours. For those that do not, however, you should list activities (including dates of involvement) as you would on a Resume. Use headings, such as Community Service and Academic Honours, and list entries in chronological order or order of importance. Briefly describe activities that are not self-explanatory, and (where appropriate) describe the impact you made in each role. Your activities should represent your varied talents and passions outside the classroom. Selectors want to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. List all significant activities and honours, but be selective. The selectors are looking for sustained commitment

Last Steps

  • Complete the application in full and follow directions. If a question dosen’t apply, note that on the application
  • Provide everything required but don’t supply things that aren’t requested
  • BE POLITE. Thank them for their time in considering you for the award
  • Keep a record of all scholarships you apply for and reapply each year
  • Neatness Counts!


The last element in applying for a scholarship is getting it to the foundation. Be cognizant of the fact that some scholarship foundations have postmark deadlines and others have receipt deadlines. It is your job to ensure that the application reaches the sponsor on time.

  • give yourself a deadline that is at least two weeks before it is due. This will allow you to proofread and complete your checklist of materials
  • Posting your materials, personally hand-deliver the package to a postal clerk, even if this means you have to wait in line (ie Shopper’s Drug Mart). The clerk will tell you if there is sufficient postage and if you are guaranteed to have it postmarked on that date
  • Keep a copy of the application for your records. Make sure your name appears on each page of the application. Number the pages to help keep them organized and in order
  • Majority of scholarships will not accept faxes or special delivery
  • Allow enough time to complete the application and get all the necessary documentation, such as letters of recommendation and transcripts in order
  • Some scholarship foundations actually have request deadlines. Thus, if you do not request the application before the date they designate, you cannot apply
  • Bookmark the download site for quick reference later
  • Make sure your name appears on each page of the application. Number the pages to help keep them organized and in order
  • The cover page is the first thing that a scholarship evaluator will see of your application ~ first impressions matter!

We have many resources in the Career Centre, please visit us.



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