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Scholarships: A Necessity or a Mere Embellishment?

As a student, I always seek new opportunities to gain tangible real-life skills and knowledge I can’t gain in a classroom setting. Illuminate’s Associate National Lead programs give me the opportunity to do just that while also gaining invaluable skills in the process. This Saturday, I got to attend Tomiwa Ademidun’s Think Tank on “Ways to Receive Scholarships ” as a part of the Associate National Lead program and was exposed to a number of new viewpoints and perspectives.

Scholarships: A Necessity or a Mere Embellishment?

Regardless of your background and interests, Tomiwa Ademidun highlighted how education is important and non-replaceable. Regardless of what and how you get educated, it is essential that you do; whether it is through apprenticeship, college or university. This is because by having a post-secondary degree, one will be able to significantly make more money as highlighted by the chart below.

Education also provides you with the essential tool to be able to make the right decisions in life and avoid falling into those hidden trap holes. However, Tomiwa highlighted how only about 50% of Canadian students pursue a higher education! This is quite the shocking statistic.

One of the major reasons why is because pursuing a higher education is insanely expensive. The average yearly cost of post secondary education is $100k. To put it into perspective, you can buy 2 Tesla cars or even a small house with that money!

This is why it becomes increasingly important to apply for scholarships to ensure that an individual isn’t swarmed with a pile of debts and loans before they even begin their career. By sharing his experience, Tomiwa emphasized the amount of stress the average student faces just due to their financial situation. Regardless of the importance of applying to scholarships, the majority still neglect to apply for them, thus, resulting in millions of available dollars going unclaimed.

Why Don’t More People Apply for Scholarships?

So, what are those reasons that convince students to choose to not apply for scholarships despite be fully aware of the debt they will have to face otherwise?

  1. “I don’t have the grades or extracurriculars”

    • A common misconception is that all scholarships require you to have high grades and many extracurriculars. In fact, a lot of scholarships don’t require such terms but rather only ask the applicant to write an essay about a general topic.

2. “It’s a waste of time, I am not going to win”

  • It is important for one to first try before giving up. Many scholarships go unclaimed because millions of students are thinking the same thing. In fact, Tomiwa pointed out how a scholarship will pay you even better than a part-time job with ~$50/hr!

3. “I already graduated so its too late”

  • Regarding this misconception, Tomiwa shared some wise words that I would like to share with you: “When should I apply for scholarships? Yesterday. When should you stop? Never”

  • Often, students believe that scholarships can be only applied in Grade 12 during a certain period. However, scholarships are available on a rolling basis - even to Gr.9-11 students and people in college/university. Even if you’re no longer a student, you can get a scholarship! When Tomiwa shared this, I was beyond surprised! Most of us are stuck in misconceptions that prevent us from taking advantage of the resources available to us.

How to Find Scholarships?

I was incredibly grateful to have received the following advice from Tomiwa on how to find scholarships:

  1. Use scholarship websites such as Atila,

  2. Use google: search for scholarships based on your ethnicity, background, program, sexual orientation, etc

  3. Look for scholarships for employees (if you have a part-time job)

  4. Follow scholarship content creators on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube

  5. Look for school directories

  6. Go Offline

    • Talk to your guidance counselor

    • Some organizations don’t have an established website: reach out to them in-person or via phone.

7. Crypto scholarships

  • Although this is still a work in progress, you can have the opportunity to eliminate any location restrictions on the scholarships you can apply for

How to Manage Scholarships?

As senior high school students, we have a lot on our plate. So, how do we keep track of all the available scholarships and remember to submit the application on time? Tomiwa was able to provide the following wonderful advice:

  1. Create notification on your google calendar (1 days before, 3 days before and 1 week before)

2. Save scholarship responses in the cloud

  • Often scholarships have repetitive questions, so make sure to save your work so you can reuse it for another scholarship.

3. Download the Atila Scholarship help chrome extension

How to Write a Great Application:

One of my biggest worries in applying for a scholarship is being able to write an application that is worthy enough. By attending this Think Tank with Tomiwa, I now have a clearer understanding of how to write a great application. Following Tomiwa’s advice, I will ensure to do the following things: Give example and proof

  1. Be specific : give data/statistical examples, make it personalized and make yourself sound credible

  2. Reader past winners (and non-winners)

    • Learn what they did right and/or wrong

3. Length (as long as necessary, as short as possible)

  • Calculate average word length of past winners

  • Don’t add fluff: be concise

4. Use resources to edit work and improve your writing such as:

  • Quillbot, Paraphrader, Grammarly, Language Tool

  • Write the same way you talk: don’t sound fake or forced

5. Use plain english and use paragraphs

  • Reviewer might get uninterested reading a huge block of text

  • Paragraphs make it easier to understand and are pleasing to the eye

Overall, I was able to learn many essential information regarding scholarship with Tomiwa today. I also had the pleasure to get to know him and chat about some general, offtopic questions as well. I am looking forward to learning more about “Landing a Job in Fortune 100” by Mash Chowdury next week!

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