Grade 12 Scholarships: the Time is Now

Ah, the last few weeks of summer…time to sit back and enjoy what's left before the back-to-school madness starts, right?

Well, sort of.

If your student is going into Grade 12 and is planning to apply for scholarships then, as much as I hate to say it, you might want to start doing some prep work now.

Grade 12 is a student's best opportunity for scholarships--EVER! There will never be another time in their lives when there are more opportunities. There is a "golden window of opportunity" in grade 12 and once it's gone it will never come again. So the time to do this is NOW.

The good news is that some universities will offer “automatic” scholarship consideration. This means that the university will use the student’s admission average to calculate a scholarship offer.

These types of scholarships are usually based solely on grades, and there is no separate application form.

The bad news is that most other awards require some or all of the following: an application form, an official transcript, letter(s) of recommendation, a list of activities, and an essay or personal statement.

Also, most other scholarships have deadlines between October and March, which is the same time as most university admission deadlines.

These six months are arguably the busiest and most important time in your student’s academic life so far.

The time crunch to get both university and scholarship applications completed and in on time --as well as study for exams--can be stressful for both student and parents. Why not do some of the background work now, when you all have more time and less stress?


Here are 3 scholarship prep tips your student can do now to get ready for application crunch time:

1. Have your student make a list of scholarships to which he/she may want to apply.

The big ones -- Loran, TD and Schulich – require a lot of preparation, but there are many others to pursue as well.

A good place to start to look for scholarships is with It's a free scholarship search engine. Have your student set up a personal profile and the service will match scholarships with that profile, as well as send email notifications when new scholarships are added to the list. Although there is definitely some stuff your student won't qualify for, there's also some great information.

As a parent, you can also make a profile based on your student’s information and get a list of possible scholarships to which he or she can apply. You can read through them and save the ones that are promising. The website also contains an FAQ page with basic information like the difference between a scholarship and bursary.

Other places to search for scholarships are the awards page of the universities your student is considering for admission, your student’s high school guidance department web page, your place of work, professional associations, and community groups in your area.

2. Once you have a list, start to break them down – what does each application require?

Letters of recommendation? Your student should make a list of possible people to ask and think about when and how he or she will ask them.

Does the application have an essay or personal statement portion? Brainstorm some ideas to include in your statement based on the criteria of the award, e.g. leadership.

If possible, start a first draft.

3. Make or update your Activities List.

Most scholarships will request a list of activities and awards with dates.

Your student should make a list of his or her extracurricular and enrichment activities, volunteer and paid positions, awards, etc. and plug in the dates. Do it in reverse chronological order and go back to Grade 10. Here is an article I wrote on How to Make Your Best Activities List. It includes a handy spreadsheet you can download and use to collect your activities information.

Note: Students should write their list of activities and essay in this spreadsheet so they can edit, cut and paste text, and save it for later. Make sure he or she saves the document in a place where they can easily access it later when they need it!


Researching and applying for scholarships can be very time consuming. Trust me, your student does not want to be rushing through this task at the last minute when he or she is stressed with school work and has looming university application deadlines.

Invest some time now and your student--and you!--will thank yourself later.

Need some help with scholarships? Contact me to discuss my services.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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