- Talk to your school's post-secondary advisor -- they often are sent information about available scholarships.
- Apply for every scholarship for which you qualify.
- Apply for entrance scholarships for the post-secondary institution you will be attending.
- Look through an online database (e.g. BC Scholarships) and make a list of all the scholarships for which you think you are eligible.
- If you are part of a cultural group (e.g. Chinese or First Nation heritage) or hobby group (e.g. 4H, Rotary International) you may be eligible for certain scholarships.
- If your parents are members of a professional association or union, find out if there are scholarships designated for children of members (e.g. forestry, cattle ranching, CUPE).
- Determine if government scholarships are offered in your province/state/district -- often these are designated automatically and do not require an application, but check on this to make sure you are not missing out.
- Don't be discouraged by scholarships that require an essay on a given topic -- if you feel like it'll be too much work, likely other applicants will be similarly deterred, improving your chances of succeeding!
Now that you've found some scholarships, here are tips on applying for them:
- Make a table to organize your scholarship applications, with columns for: "scholarship", "amount", "number available", "deadline", "number of reference letters", and "required documents". Under "required documents" make a check-box list of the things you are required to submit (e.g. resume, essay, academic reference letter, community reference letter, transcript) and check each off when you've prepared it.
- Buff up your resume. Write your application essays (judicious copying-and-pasting saves time).
- Prepare a list of scholarships (with their mailing addresses) that require official transcripts. Provide this list to your school's office, indicating which scholarships require that the transcript be mailed directly from the school (for security reasons) and which transcripts you will pick up from the office in person to enclose when you mail the rest of your application.
- Many scholarships require reference letters. Select people whom you think would do a good job of writing these for you (e.g. teacher, work boss, volunteer supervisor, coach). Ask them in person (ideally) or by email whether they feel that they could write a strong reference letter for you. Ask early to give them as much time as possible! For each scholarship for which you would like them to write a letter, give them: a printout of the scholarship description (including what characteristics they are looking for in an applicant), any specific instructions for referees (if applicable), your resume, and a letter-sized envelope addressed to the scholarship institution, with the correct postage. Paper clip these all together with a sticky note on the front reminding them of the deadline, thanking them, and providing your contact information in case they have any questions.
- When all components of your application are completed, arrange them neatly in a logical order and paper clip them together. You may wish to prepare a brief cover letter saying "Please find enclosed my application for x scholarship. The following documents are attached: [bulleted list]. As requested, my transcript has been mailed separately to you by my school. Thank you kindly for taking the time to review my application."
- Pop your application into a full-sized envelope and take it to the post office to have it weighed, stamped, and sent off. But first, check and recheck the mailing address!
When all is said and done:
- Wait patiently...
- Don't be discouraged by rejection letters -- everyone gets some; I got lots. Chances are if you apply for lots of scholarships you will win a few!
- When you do win a scholarship, consider writing a thank you letter to the sponsor -- especially if it is from a small organization or individual donor.
- Don't forget your referees! You may consider writing them a thank you card or if it seems appropriate giving them a small gift. At the very least, send them a thank you email and let them know that you've won the scholarship (they will probably be interested to know how things worked out!).
Good luck with your scholarship applications. It's a tedious process, but not really difficult, and potentially very lucrative. Plus it's exciting to win a scholarship and have another accomplishment to to add to your resume!
Comment below if you have any questions about applying for scholarships!