Applying for Scholarships and Awards: Tips N' Tricks!
It is no surprise that university isn’t cheap, so finding a way to financially support your academic journey is extremely important. I am a third-year university student and throughout my years, I’ve learnt how to support myself financially through awards and scholarships. That being said, I thought I’d share my tips and tricks for applying for scholarships and awards! First and foremost, I would like to put it out there that there are professional resources in this area like Financial Aid and Awards at SFU who can guide you thoroughly through this process, however it may be helpful to hear it from a student perspective!
To begin, you may be thinking that it’s too early to be considering applying for scholarships and awards when the spring semester is coming to a close, but my biggest piece of advice is it’s never too early to consider applying for scholarships and awards. In fact, it’s better to be prepared and ready to apply well ahead of the application opening because nothing is worse than missing the deadline for something so important! Typically, I will search for scholarships well ahead of when I plan to use them so that I can be one step ahead. So, if I’m hoping to receive a scholarship or award for Fall, I will start looking around February or March. That way, I have more options considering deadlines in my experience can vary from May 1st, June 1st or even July and August 1st.
Next, one of the most common questions regarding scholarships and awards is “where can you find them?” The first place I will look is the SFU website, where every semester they post awards and scholarships and each of their requirements. The nice part about this list is they sort them based on program or specific categories such as those who face adversity or Aboriginal students. My experience with applying for these awards and scholarships is you must first select the ones you want to apply for (and obviously qualify for). Then, through go.SFU.ca, you can apply under the Finances section using each scholarship or award code. After submitting this, you must email any supporting documents that a scholarship/award requests (letters of recommendation, transcript, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to complete your application.
Another helpful place I will look is Scholarships Canada where you can search for scholarships based on certain programs, provinces, institutions, or categories. This is helpful because this website is never short of scholarships and there are a lot of options to accommodate every person’s strengths and needs.
My last piece of advice is to make sure you have letters of recommendation from reliable individuals. This can be professors, coaches, employers, or important members in clubs, associations, or committees. One of the most important parts of getting a letter of recommendation is to make sure you know the individual and that they know you as well. This may sound obvious, but I give this advice to make sure no one asks a professor that barely even knows their name! This doesn’t mean you can’t ask your professor ever, but try to get to know them through office hours and lectures throughout the semester before asking them. Again, being prepared is key!
Although applying for scholarships and awards seems like a daunting process, as long as you start thinking ahead of time, and consider the tips above, the process can be much easier. I can assure you that the more you apply for them, the easier the process gets, so don’t give up and start searching!