How Students Can Devise Strategies When Applying For Scholarship Applications

Aidan D’Souza, 23, has been a student mentor in Toronto for the past four years while completing college part-time.

While working with Seneca College’s SMILE (Student Mentoring in Life and Education) mentoring program, he helps students adjust to their freshman year in college. Part of that includes helping them find financial aid.

Students who receive scholarships can spend more time in school and less time in jobs to cover tuition and living expenses, D’Souza said.

While many of these scholarships may seem competitive, students often exclude themselves and don’t bother applying.

“Many post-secondary schools have a lot of financial aid available to students, but students don’t know about it or don’t take the time to fill out the application form,” D’Souza said.

“Financial aid qualifications are based not only on grades or leadership activities, but also on students’ financial need to pay for their education,” he added. “I’ve seen household students get almost all of their tuition paid through post-secondary school financial aid.”

Last year, D’Souza received help for his own tuition with a $2,000 award from the 2021 Foresters Competitive Scholarship that he won for the various volunteer positions he takes on.

Sandy Yong, author of “The Money Master,” was able to pay for more than half of her college tuition with the 11 scholarships she earned between 2005 and 2009, totaling more than $10,000. She paid off the rest of her student debt shortly after graduation with the income she had saved from jobs she worked during the school year and summer months.

For each school year, Yong researched scholarships offered by her school’s hospitality and tourism program and listed the scholarships she was eligible for.

“Often I had to submit a short essay or written statement. It only took a few hours to apply, and when I received an average of $1,000, it was well worth my time,” she said.

“If you are a student who gets on the honor roll every year, you definitely have an advantage in applying for scholarships. But usually judges are looking for other things, such as extracurricular activities, work experience and your passion for the profession.”

In addition to checking out their own program’s scholarship listings, Yong encourages students to sign up for the Student Awards newsletter at

“That way, you will be the first to know about the scholarship application and have ample time to apply before the deadline. Honestly, the last thing you want is to find a scholarship that meets all the criteria, just to find out you got the boat,” said Yong.

Yong also cites as a good resource.

Some large companies also hold competitions, where a high grade point average (GPA) or written essay is unlikely to be required. However, the competition can be tough because it’s a random lottery, Yong added. Wireless provider Fido, for example, is currently hosting a $2,500 student award competition that does not require an essay or certain GPA.

When it comes to applying for scholarships, focus on quality and not quantity, Yong said.

“If you have a limited list of those you think you have a good chance of winning, focus on making your application stand out. Plus, it can get overwhelming and time-consuming if you’re applying to many scholarships at once.”

And don’t dismiss smaller exchanges, Yong said. Scholarships for $10,000 or more are undoubtedly attractive, but competition can be tight.

An alternative, Young said, is to apply for several scholarships that pay $1,000 or $2,000 each, as there may be a smaller number of applicants.

“If you receive small prizes, they can add up quickly.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 2, 2022.

Leah Golob, The Canadian Press

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