Scholarships 101

Receiving a scholarship can be a way to ease financial stress, get recognition for your work, boost your CV, and learn more about yourself. Whether you’re in financial need or not, the amount of work needed to qualify for scholarships can sometimes be discouraging. However, scholarships have varying levels of effort and reward. Taking the time to research scholarships—and to find out whether it’s worth your time and effort—is the first step in getting the scholarship of your dreams. Here are my tips to help you get started.

1. Pay attention to emails from McGill

There are various in-course scholarships (as well as scholarships for new graduates) offered by McGill, many of which are faculty-specific. These often have a minimum GPA requirement and a short essay portion. In applying for these scholarships, pay close attention to the categories they’re often separated into: leadership, community service and volunteering, and extracurricular activities. When scholarships are so precise, it can be easier to make an argument for your merit and be more focused. These scholarships—as well as any other scholarship where you’re required to talk about yourself—are perfect opportunities to reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses and further reflect on yourself. Moreover, reading scholarship requirements often prepares you for the next school year in showing you what you could be doing to develop your skills.

2. Consider external scholarships

From my experience, external scholarships seem to have a larger essay requirement. However, there are plenty of scholarships that get more specific when it comes to application requirements, which can be more helpful for some. By using the McGill CaPS external scholarships index, you can easily find scholarships divided by faculty, or specifically for minority and ethnic groups, women, LGBTQA, and more. The index is especially helpful because it clearly states many of the scholarship’s due dates.

3. Get to know yourself

Like any CV or cover letter, it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses to be able to demonstrate these skills to others. When hundreds of other students are applying for the same scholarship, you need to stand out from the crowd. While GPA is often important, the effort you put into an essay or the amount of  extracurricular activities you do can make the difference between being overlooked and catching the eye of the reader. Furthermore, being creative and talking about your interests can equally help you stand out. While this process can be intimidating, it can also help you learn more about what makes you different.

Good luck!

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