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Preparing to win scholarships for university starts in high-school. (Rafal Gerszak For The Globe and Mail)
Preparing to win scholarships for university starts in high-school. (Rafal Gerszak For The Globe and Mail)

Back to school

You don’t win scholarships. You earn them. Don’t mix that up Add to ...

As many students across the country embark on their first year of university, trying to do well in school isn’t the only thing on their minds. The costs associated with earning a university degree in Canada are rising steadily. Many students require part-time jobs, loans and scholarships to cover their costs. But with competition for scholarships on the rise, it’s easy to be discouraged. As winners of three of the largest and most competitive scholarships in the country, we would like to share a few tips and tricks we learned along the way.

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1. You can’t win if you don’t apply. According to Scholarships Canada, there are over 77,000 scholarships, bursaries and awards worth nearly $168-million available for students to apply for. Just apply. You miss 100 per cent of the chances you don’t take. If you have decent marks, do things around your community and are a solid writer, just give it a shot.

2. Although we are providing advice on obtaining financial awards, by no means do we endorse ‘resume packing.’ Your achievements are a testament to your personality and character, don’t falsify them. Do things for the right reasons. Do them to gain experience, build your skills and learn. NEVER study or volunteer with the exclusive goal to win thousands of dollars.Your teachers/supervisors (remember, potential references) will see straight through ulterior motives – as will award selection committees.

3. Forget about the scholarship. Wait…what? Yeah. Forget about winning anything.

4. Adopt a mindset of selflessness and compassion for others. Just try it. You will like it.

5. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Throw yourself into foreign situations for kicks. Search up local things to involve yourself in whether through school, friends or Google. Why not? High school is a great time for self-exploration, making tons of mistakes and trying new things. Party, but not too much.

6. Fail.

7. Read #3 again. Now remember that there are rewards out there for young people who have worked their asses off to discover themselves, the world around them and how they can improve both simultaneously. Then consider the fact that these rewards exist to help you continue to strive for excellence. Then apply for help paying for school. Spend long hours answering questions and perfecting essays about your values, your achievements, your goals and your story. Dig deep within yourself and show your true colours. Think about what motivates you. How do you perceive leadership? Why do you choose to get involved? What are your failures and how did you came out of them stronger?

8. You don’t win scholarships. You earn them. Don’t mix that up. Scholars are chosen for different reasons but every one of them did something amazing, spent hours practising or gave their time for a cause. They are bold, humble and brave leaders who demonstrate a strong sense of purpose. They are hard workers.

9. If you don’t win, relax. Don’t feel despondent. Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go. Use it as motivation to try harder. You have equipped yourself with a bank of experiences to take you fantastic places in life. Gracefully close the email, put down the phone or put down the letter.

10. At the end of the day, the words of John Green are germane: what’s the point in even being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?

Kirtan Dhunnoo is a Schulich Leader Scholar ($80,000), AP|Cambridge Capstone Scholar and attends the University of Alberta.

 Danyka Leclair is a Loran Scholar ($80,000), youth journalist for various francophone news sources and attends the University of Ottawa

Rohan Nuttall is a TD Scholar ($70,000), World Economic Forum Global Shaper and attends the University of British Columbia.

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