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Thursday, August 17, 2006


College scholarships, grants, merit awards and even low-interest study loans or other financing options all have one thing in common, they are centered around you, your college education, your tuition, costs, prospective career and how you plan on getting there and your future.

You are in the spotlight and under the magnifying glass when you choose to apply for college and scholarships to pay for it. Meeting your monetary and financial needs is very important in this process as well. This is an extremely important, busy and somewhat stressful time, making decisions about post-secondary plans that include education, careers and vocations. These decisions will in effect affect the rest of your life. Applying for scholarships is an essential and crucial step and interwoven part not be underestimated or underutilized. It could make the difference FOR LIFE.

There are numerous on line databases of scholarships, bursaries and awards. There are local businesses who might consider sponsoring a student depending on your line of study, their funds available and interest in pursuing scholarships.

Ordering transcripts are important and done for you by the school, Ensure that you have them in hand as they are always needed as supporting documentation to include in your scholarship application packages.

If you are looking for things to say about yourself in your essay or recommendation letters, try focusing on things that will let you stand out, like:

§ Maintaining your honor roll standing and academic achievements, highlights
§ Demonstrated leadership qualities and abilities
§ Incidents where you exhibited exceptional citizenship
§ Demonstrated strong public speaking skills
§ Involvement in extracurricular endeavors
§ A good representative of your class/grade, student interest and/or certain causes
§ Also why you are a most deserving candidate and how you would be able to contribute and make a difference with this award
§ What you see as your role as a recipient of this scholarship and prospective student
§ What characteristics, achievements, accomplishments and goals set you apart and make you unique
§ How your “journey” up to this point has influenced you (your experiences with fellow classmates, your memories, life lessons…)
§ How you see the road ahead

Presenting yourself to the selection committee or relevant individual(s), on paper is your first and only chance to grab interest, impress and introduce yourself. Making the most of this opportunity is crucial.

Like stated earlier, there are different types of awards involved in this scholarship applications and rewards processes. They are sometimes used interchangeably and as an application you need to know the differences, pros and cons and even confirm the details in writing upon receipt of the documentation to be sure of what it covers exactly.

§ We have learned that a ‘scholarship’ is basically financial aid towards academic studies, awarded on academic merit alone, or on academic merit combined with other criteria.
§ A bursary is an award of money towards fees based on financial need.
§ A prize is a reward for academic merit. Continued study is not a condition.
§ An athletic or talent award (art, music, dance, etc.) are a monetary grants to a student based on a sport or special talent.

There are also scholarships for entrants, continued and/or returning students alike. Be sure you know the difference and apply for the right types of grants. Also, get as much information as you possibly can and ensure the accuracy of the spelling of the award name, all details and fill out and send application forms sooner rather than later, with all supporting documentation, including your essay, recommendation letters and transcript.

Here are some other considerations and questions you might ask yourself as you get ready to start your applications process:

§ Know the deadline for applications and ensure to get yours in on time
§ Familiarize yourself with the donor, purpose and typical award details, as well as all relevant facts about the grant.
§ What is the total value of the scholarship and what does it cover?
§ Is it a full or partial scholarship, is it merit, financial need or both? Are they any specialist selection criteria or eligibility issues to consider?
§ Does it apply to entrance awards or continued study or both?
§ Does it cover the whole duration of your study or only the first year?
§ Which field of study is it most likely to be awarded in and why?
§ Are there any minimum academic requirements of standing required?
§ What are all the selection criteria and stipulations?
§ Where to find and submit the application form to?
§ How soon will you hear and will you receive confirmation of receipt of your application?
§ Contact details and a copy of the application form (hard copy or electronic submission)
§ Any application details and/or supporting documentation, special requirements
§ If selected for the shortlist, will an interview be required?


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