By Erin Arnold Frith
Congratulations on taking the steps to create an exciting and fulfilling post secondary experience! As a scholarship winner, judge and active alumni participant I encourage you to think about a few necessary steps to ensure you can create an application that reaches all the requirements and exceeds the judge’s expectations.
As a scholarship judge for many years we are taught to look for a few key categories such as innovation, excellence and leadership. Of course these categories may vary slightly depending on what type of scholarship you are applying for. Therefore, look at the objectives the outline is asking for and make sure you give clear and specific examples of these traits and/or experiences throughout your application. Rather than writing about the same one or two experiences throughout your application, consider highlighting a few diverse stories from different life experiences to demonstrate how much you have to offer and the uniqueness of you! Make it clear to the judges why it would be a disservice for the organization to not consider you for their scholarship.
My suggestion is to create a dynamic story about your life journey and how you see yourself in the world. We are all parts of micro and macro systems that make up our family, community, country and world. How do these systems interrelate in your life? Has being from a large ethnic family made it challenging to afford post secondary? Do your school and community offer services which empower you to help others? Does being a Canadian spark some inner desire to create a society where all children, youth and families feel excepted and valued? Does being a youth make you question the environmental consequences of our world leaders? Whatever angle you are keen on, use it in your application. Describe how you are connected to these areas of your life and what you want to do and change in the world. As a judge we want to feel your passions, interests and the direction you may pursue as you go on to do extraordinary things in your future.
Connections to your community, faith, non profits, schools and political parties are valuable to your applications. This is not to say that “who you know” makes your application successful. Rather what type of connections in general do you make with others? Are you an animal lover that volunteers at the SPCA and runs winter fundraisers to keep stray and lost animals homes? Tell us about it. Do you sit on a youth advisory committee at school? We want to know this. Your future and how you connect with the world as a whole tells the judges a lot about your personality and what sets you apart in a crowd. Everyone including you, yes you, have unique and necessary qualities in forming a society of empathy, respect and community responsibility.
In conclusion seek out scholarships that suit your individual interests and talents. Be proud of whom you are and what you want to accomplish – this will shine through in your application! It is a pleasure and very motivating to read thousands of young leaders’ applications. You have the power to seek post secondary funding and achieve your goals. Reach for stars!
About the Author:
Erin Arnold graduated with distinction from UVIC in Child and Youth Care Counselling with a specialization in Child Protection. As as a Millennium Laureate, she received a Canadian Millennium scholarship, attended national conferences and training, and participated on the Millennium judging committee for many years. She is now a Program Manager at the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General helping victims of crime and trauma. Erin volunteers countless hours to community groups both locally and internationally. Her passions are children’s rights, crime prevention through social development, international volunteering, travelling and building a safe and connected community for children and youth.