Scholarship Tips


  • Treat scholarship searches and applications like a part-time job – schedule them into your routine, show up on time and do the necessary work.
  • Be involved in your school and / or community – be an active volunteer! Scholarship committees want to see that you have a history of service.
  • Work to keep up your grades – good grades or grades that demonstrate an upward trend are indicators of success. Scholarship committees look for students who have a history of overcoming challenge and achieving success.


  • Start close to home with parents/grandparents’ employers or affiliations:
    • Does the company or organization you or your parents work for offer any scholarships?
    • Do you or your parents belong to a union or an employee organization? Check with your or your parent’s union or organization rep.
    • Are any members of your family veterans – are you a child or grandchild of a vet?
    • Do your parents belong to a lodge or a club that has a scholarship for members or children of members?
    • Look into the activities you are involved with such as work, clubs and organizations.
    • Follow websites listed on our Scholarship Links page, our Scholarships Listed by Monthly Due Dates  page, SD#42 scholarship page and SD#42 Scholarship Booklet.
  1. The internet has several scholarship guides. These can be paper or digitally based. A good example is: Scholarships Canada
  2. Conduct an internet search for scholarships offered by public/private companies or organizations, charities, or private individuals. An example of local community service clubs and special interest groups can be found at: District of Maple Ridge
  3. Turn your creative or athletic talents into money by searching sites such as: Ayn Rand Essay Contests ; BC Sports Hall of Fame 


As you locate each scholarship you will need to determine whether or not you are eligible to apply. Eligible applicants are those who fit the criteria.


Make sure you are the type of student they are looking for before you apply:

  • Read the criteria and make sure you fit all the descriptors.
  • Read their demographic details and academic achievement requirements – make sure you match them.
  • Apply only if you are eligible.


  • Many scholarships have their own website where you can download the scholarship application.
  • For others, you must contact them by phone, email or postal mail to obtain the application.


Read through the entire application and make a list of everything that is required on a separate sheet of paper. Evaluate yourself in relation to the requirements:

  • What career do you wish to pursue?
  • How do your goals and ambitions relate to the implied goals of the scholarship?
  • How do your qualifications compare to the requirements of the scholarship?
  • What are your past successes, achievements, honours received and positions of leadership held?
  • What are your abilities and potential?
  • Where do you want to see yourself in five years? Ten years?


Use plastic protector sheets that include:

  • Certificates you’ve earned from:
    • school
    • sports
    • arts
    • volunteering
    • work
    • etc
  • Reference letters
  • Newspaper clippings about you or something you took part in
  • Transcripts and/or Diploma Verification Report
  • Report Cards
  • Any completed essay questions you’ve written
  • Photos of yourself for scholarships that allow supporting materials:
    • of you engaged in activities with accompanying remarks
    • of your school photo
  • Accomplishment and Activity List
  • Brag Sheet
  • How to write a good essay
  • Questions to ask yourself before you write Personal Statement

Accomplishment and Activity Listis a list of all the activities you have taken an interest in, been involved with, led or have been a member of during high school. This will provide you with the details and proof to demonstrate how you fit the award criteria and the information you need for your Personal Statement / Essay:

  • Awards: Were you the student of the month, student of the year? Did you receive an award for your extra-curricular activities?
  • Clubs: What clubs at school were you involved in? Were you in any school plays? Did you write for the school paper or yearbook? Were you involved with a religious youth group?
  • Co-op Jobs: Where did you work? What did you do? What did you learn?
  • International Exchanges: Did you travel abroad during school to study or volunteer? What did you learn about the culture?
  • Part-time Jobs: Were you a cashier or clerk, babysitter, delivery person, courier, waiter, lawncare worker, camp counsellor, painter, etc.? Even if you had a really menial job that you hated – include it.
  • Projects: Did you work on any large projects that you are particularly proud of?
  • Scholastic Achievement: Did you get high marks? What was your average? Were you on the honour list? Which subject(s) do you excel in?
  • School Associations: Were you involved with your school council or athletic association? Yearbook committee? Were you a student representative for the parent-teachers association? Do you assist with school preparation for events throughout the year? Do you help plan school dances/functions?
  • Sports: What was your position on the school team? Were you the captain, co-captain, or manager? What skills did you learn? Did you organize bottle drives? Fundraising events?
  • Student Government: Were you the president, secretary, treasurer, vice-president, class representative, or grade representative?
  • Volunteer work at school: Were you a tutor? Coach’s assistant? Office helper? Library assistant? Teacher’s assistant? Technical support? Student Aide?
  • Volunteer work out of school: Local hospital? Local elementary school? Local organization? Government office? Community newspaper? Sports team? Daycare centre? Nursing home? Describe your duties and state what you learned as a result of these experiences.

Self-Reflect – After you’ve compiled your list, think about how your experiences during high school have contributed to your personal growth:

  • Did they help you develop: Maturity? Responsibility? Teamwork skills? Punctuality? Leadership skills?
  • How has what you’ve learned, changed how you do things now?
  • Assign at least one skill or quality that you gained from your involvement in each activity.

Writing a Good Scholarship Essay or Personal Statement – It is one of the most critical factors in the application because it is your opportunity to present a solid picture of yourself as a quality person and a worthy candidate.

So far you have:

  • Self-Evaluated in relation to the award requirements.
  • Self-Reflected on your experiences and personal growth.

Now it is time to pull it all together and:

  • Self-Promote by providing proof in your essay that you meet or exceed the scholarship criteria.

The scholarship committee will read your essay to see what sets you apart from the crowd, looking for a reason to select you over all the others.

  • Use concrete examples to provide evidence that you satisfy their criteria.
  • Identify the sponsor’s goals. Try to understand the sponsor’s motivation in offering the award. Direct your application towards satisfying these goals.
  • As you’re writing your essay, keep asking yourself if you’d find your essay compelling if someone else had written it.
  • Don’t have a pity party, but let them know you’ve prevailed over difficult circumstances. And don’t simply mention your memberships in different groups-write about things you did that demonstrate leadership and initiative, and any active role you played in addressing a need in your community.
  • Spell check and proofread your essay, and have at least one other person proofread it before submitting it.
  • Read it out loud-you may catch errors that don’t stand out when reading it silently.
  • Check your word length and edit to keep within their limits -scholarship committees don’t look kindly on applicants who ignore their rules.
  • Avoid slang at all costs, but don’t come off as a pseudo intellectual either.
  • And ask someone whose opinion you trust to read your essay and give you constructive criticism.

Letters of Recommendation/Letters of Reference

  • Strong letters of recommendation are extremely important.
  • Letters should come from teachers who are familiar not only with your academic abilities, but also with your personal interests and background, and how those relate to your potential success.
  • Effective letters of recommendation are detailed, specific, and contextualize your achievements. It is helpful if the letter-writer can attest to the appropriateness of your proposed program or suitability to the award.
  • Approach letter-writers as soon as possible. Remember that teachers, employers and coaches are busy people and will need some time, usually a few weeks, to work on a good letter of recommendation. When you are approaching the letter-writer, discuss your plans and let them know what you hope to study and why you want to apply. These discussions may help you clarify your plans and will help re-establish your relationships with your letter-writer. Provide them with a written description of the scholarship and copies of your personal statement, proposed academic program, transcripts and activities/honours list.
  • Provide them with an Reference Letter Request form.


  • Not every scholarship will require a transcript.
  • When an application requires a transcript, you need to take their request seriously and mail (or have mailed) a transcript well before the deadline.
  • In the academic world, there are two types of transcripts: ‘unofficial’ and ‘official’. An unofficial transcript is a listing of coursework. Unofficial transcripts are normally acceptable only for campus-based scholarships and awards. An official transcript is printed by the school office on official paper and includes the seal of the school and the signature of the Student Records Clerk.
  • Ordering official transcripts, like letters of recommendation, requires some advanced planning.

Resume Some scholarship applications will include a space on the form to list activities and honours. For those that do not, however, you should list activities (including dates of involvement) as you would on a Resume. Use headings, such as Community Service and Academic Honours, and list entries in chronological order or order of importance. Briefly describe activities that are not self-explanatory, and (where appropriate) describe the impact you made in each role. Your activities should represent your varied talents and passions outside the classroom. Selectors want to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. List all significant activities and honours, but be selective. The selectors are looking for sustained commitment.

Last Steps

  • Complete the application in full and follow directions. If a question doesn’t apply to you, note that on the application.
  • Provide everything required but don’t include anything that is not requested.
  • BE POLITE. Thank them for their time in considering you for the award.
  • Keep a record of all scholarships you apply for.
  • Neatness Counts! Use a word processor over hand writing.


The last element in applying for a scholarship is getting it to the foundation. Be cognizant of the fact that some scholarship foundations have postmark deadlines and others have receipt deadlines. It is your job to ensure that the application reaches the sponsor on time.

  • Give yourself a deadline that is at least two weeks before it is due. This will allow you to proofread and complete your checklist of materials.
  • Posting your materials – personally hand-deliver the package to a postal clerk, even if this means you have to wait in line (ie Shopper’s Drug Mart). The clerk will tell you if there is sufficient postage and if you are guaranteed to have it postmarked on that date.
  • Keep a copy of the application for your records. Make sure your name appears on each page of the application. Number the pages to help keep them organized and in order.
  • The majority of scholarships will not accept faxes or special delivery.


  • Allow enough time to complete the application and get all the necessary documentation, such as letters of recommendation and transcripts in order.
  • Some scholarship foundations actually have request deadlines. Thus, if you do not request the application before the date they designate, you cannot apply.
  • Bookmark each award’s website for quick reference later.
  • The cover page is the first thing that a scholarship evaluator will see of your application ~ first impressions matter!

We have many resources in the Career Centre, please visit us.