Here’s some great news about scholarships: There are a lot more opportunities for them than most people realize. And, you may qualify for more scholarships than think, and your chances of getting one may be better than you think, too!
However, there is also a lot of confusion, misinformation, and even a few tired, old myths about scholarships that can prevent students from finding them. And there are two common mistakes that prevent many qualified students from finding, and winning, scholarships.
Here are two common mistakes students make with finding scholarships:
Mistake #1: Starting too late
The biggest mistake I see with students and scholarships is missing out on them altogether.
Entrance scholarships start to be announced in September of Grade 12. That's right, the very first month of Grade 12! In fact, one of the biggest and most prestigious ones in Canada (The Loran which awards more than 30 scholarships at $100,000 each) opens in September with a deadline of mid-October. Another major award, the TD Community Leadership Scholarship with 10 awards at $70,000 each, has a November deadline. Also, some of the biggest university sponsored entrance awards, like Chancellor’s Awards, have deadlines of early December. There are also many smaller awards that come up during the first few months of Grade 12.
If you’re not on your game, they will pass you by, and your opportunity will be gone.
There is a finite window of opportunity for the majority of scholarships. The window opens around October, and it closes around the end of April. I call this time "scholarship season". There are still scholarships after this time, but there are far fewer of them than there are between the months of October – April.
Mistake #2: Thinking there will be opportunities later
If you’re putting off scholarships until you’re attending university, then you should re-consider. While there are some scholarships for students currently attending university, the majority of scholarships - and most of the larger ones - are entrance awards, meaning they are only for students entering post-secondary for the first time. Also, the competition for scholarships in university is sometimes much tougher than it is for entrance awards.
Simply put, Grade 12 is your best opportunity for scholarships. There will never be another time with more opportunities and less competition.
Of course, I don't want to discourage people from searching for scholarships at any point in time, because the perfect one could be waiting for you at any stage of your academic career. But there's no denying one thing: the earlier you start, the more chances you’ll have to win!
Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Consultant at MycampusGPS. She teaches students how to prepare their best scholarship applications through her online program, "How to Write Winning Scholarship Applications". She also wrote the guide, "How to Find Scholarships in Canada". Janet offers one-to-one scholarship consulting for high school students, and scholarship essay writing workshops. Janet's blog is one of the top education blogs in Canada.