Post-secondary education isn’t cheap. In the past decade alone, university tuition in Canada rose an eye-watering 40%. Now, the average Canadian student can expect to pay roughly $7,000 for a year of university.
Some incoming post-secondary students have parents that can pay that hefty annual cost, but most families and students simply don’t have the excess income. That means turning to the only available option for many students: accruing massive amounts of student debt.
Thankfully, there’s a third option. You might not be able to pay for your entire university tenure with scholarships, but they can help ameliorate financial struggles as you work toward a diploma. It’s best practice to apply for several scholarships, that way you ensure a better chance of receiving one or more.
How do you stand out in the scholarship process? Below are five tips for scholarship application in Ontario.
Develop a Post-Secondary Plan
Many scholarships want to see your plan for post-secondary education. They want to see a general pathway (college, university, apprenticeship, etc.), a subject (education, sciences, fine arts, etc.) and specific programs to which you are applying. If you haven’t given much thought yet to a post-secondary plan, now’s the time.
Mull Over Your Achievements and Awards
Next, most scholarships will appraise your application by considering awards and achievements. Think about your high school career – what defined your years at high school? Did you join school clubs, volunteer for organizations or join community clubs? Were you successful in a particular sport or extracurricular activity? Are there any academic achievements of which you are proud?
Consider Upgrade Courses to Boost Your Marks
Most scholarships are based on academic merit, meaning applications will be evaluated primarily by marks. But don’t panic just yet. If you have a few less-than-perfect marks on your transcript, you can always take upgrade courses to amend your grade before scholarship deadlines. Taking online high school courses in Ontario is a great avenue for upgrading, since online courses are flexible and self-paced (allowing you to take upgrade courses even as you complete your regular courses).
Research Your Options
Now that you’ve defined your plans, achievements and grades, you can move on to researching options. The Scholarships Canada website features a plethora of options to which you can apply. And the official Government of Ontario website lists several resources for finding scholarships and other financing options. Take time to read through your choices, and then apply liberally!
On a Similar Note: Research Bursaries Too
Whereas scholarships are primarily based on academic merit, bursaries typically go to students in financial need. If you need financial support but aren’t sure your marks are worthy of the requisite scholarships, use the Government of Ontario resource linked above to research your bursary options as well. Alternately, apply for scholarships and bursaries to cover your bases.
Loans aren’t the only way to fund your pursuit of higher knowledge. Do your financial future a favour, and apply for scholarships in Ontario using the tips above.