Scholarships are generally monetary awards given to students to help with their studies. They can be awarded based on academic achievements (student has an average over some percentage), for sports achievements (student has demonstrated particular promise in a sport), or to help students pursue something different (a research or entrepreneurial scholarship). Now, these all sound good, but why should you apply?
First and foremost, scholarships are a source of money. There can be a lot of financial pressure on students and students’ families and scholarships can ease some of it. If for no other reason on this list, consider scholarships as extra income.
Next, not all scholarships even need applications. Some are automatically calculated. These are generally the ones that recognize students who have a certain academic GPA (Grade Point Average). The GPA is how a student’s grades are calculated at most post-secondary institutions. For example, Post Secondary Institution ABC has a scholarship for students who have a GPA that is over 3.0 (equivalent to about an 83%-86%). Students who have this GPA do not need to apply to receive the scholarship, they automatically receive it. Most often, it is deducted from their tuition.
Some Post-Secondary Institutions will offer scholarships (which may cover the entire tuition of the student) for athletic achievements, provided the student plays for the Post-Secondary Institution’s varsity team. Varsity teams are the principle athletic teams representing a college, university, or technical school. In this way, the student has a “free ride” and their Post-Secondary Institution has a more developed varsity team (which is a source of pride for the whole school).
Now, what about if you do not completely qualify for the scholarship, should you still apply? Generally, if you are a bit under the requirements, you should. For example, if the scholarship has a cut-off of 75%, but you have 72%, you should consider applying. Sometimes, no one else applies, and since the organizers of the scholarships generally want to give it to someone, if you are a bit under, you might still get it. If there is a large gap in between what they are asking for, and what you are qualified for, it would probably be a waste of time to apply. For example, if the organizers are providing a football scholarship, and you are a baseball player, or not into sports at all, it would probably be a waste of your time to apply.
Research scholarships are an excellent resource for students who want to get into research later on. These grants allow students to experience an academic setting (that is grant writing, research, and maybe even presenting their findings). The grant can be enough for a student to finance a small project or a small section of a larger project which includes other students. These scholarships generally have strict criteria that must be met and these may need to be demonstrated to the organization providing the scholarship.
Entrepreneurial scholarships are excellent resources for students who may want to start their own business. These sometimes give students the chance to talk to other young entrepreneurs or some even provide a mentor who can help the student get their start. These also often have strict criteria about what the money can be used for and the student will often need to provide proof of what the money was spent on. Sometimes, the young entrepreneur’s grant money will only be awarded to cover certain expenses. That is, the student wants to pay for a logo design. Instead of providing the money directly, the scholarship may only reimburse the student.
Another reason some students have for applying to a specific scholarship is that they want to meet either the person it is named for, or someone in that field. For example, you are applying for a scholarship within a given field. You are selected as the winner, and you get to meet the person after whom the scholarship is named (that is, someone who has excelled in that field). When you start applying for jobs, it might be a good idea to apply to the company where the person you met works.
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A guidance counsellor can be an excellent resource to help you decide which scholarships to apply to.
Scholarships also look good on your resumé. When applying for a job, some employers do not want to see your transcript, but having scholarships present shows your academic/athletic/research commitments. As mentioned, if you receive a scholarship that is named after someone, it might be a good idea to apply for a position in their company. Even if the person doing the hiring is not the person you met, it looks better on your resumé to show that you won the scholarship named after someone in the company.
In conclusion, scholarships are awards (most often as money, though the prestige can also be a factor) that are given to students to help with their studies. There are a lot of different types and reasons for offering a scholarship. Some are academic, athletic, or research based. For the majority of them, the students will need to apply and demonstrate how they fit the criteria given. Receiving a scholarship can help with some of the financial strain of studying, it can look good on your resumé, and you might have a bit of a head-start when applying for jobs (or creating your own niche in the business world). To get started, take a look at your Post-Secondary Institution’s website to see which scholarships you can apply to, or give your registrar a call. They are often a very good starting point.