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3 ways to prep for scholarships this summer

Before we get into the ways you can prepare for scholarships, let's go over the reason why doing some prep work during the summer before Grade 12 is a good idea:

It’s because of this thing I call “The Grade 12 Overwhelm”.

The Grade 12 Overwhelm” is that feeling of having so much to do that you’re completely overwhelmed. This feeling can stop us from doing some of the important things we should be doing to try to secure our future success, like applying for scholarships.

To understand how the feeling of overwhelm happens, I want you to think of all the stuff your student does now, in Grade 11:

  • all of the schoolwork,

  • the school sports and activities,

  • community sports and activities,

  • maybe a part-time job, maybe volunteering,

  • their family responsibilities and chores,

  • and all of their social activities

It’s a lot, right?

Now, in Grade 12, I want you to imagine adding another layer of time on top of that – a layer of time they will need to research universities -- online research, plus attend university fairs, open houses, campus tours, etc.

Now, add another layer of time to research the program or programs they want to apply for – general online research, admission requirements, doing career quizzes and--if they’re doing it properly--talking to people in those jobs to get a better idea of what they career is about, etc.

Now, add another layer of time to actually apply to the universities – order transcripts, fill out the applications, organize your information.

Now, on top of that, add in all of the fun grad activities they will (rightly so) want to participate in, like banquets, barbeques, dances, etc.

Are you starting to see the problem?

But wait, I’m not done yet…

Now add in time to find scholarships. And, make no mistake, this takes time if it’s done properly. People who say they couldn’t find any either didn’t know where to look, or they give up way too soon (usually it’s both).

But I know YOU’RE not going to give up, so now you must add on another layer of time to apply for scholarships -- fill out the application, request references, and probably craft an essay. This not only takes time, it’s on a deadline. Once the deadline has passed, the opportunity is gone.

And that’s a big missed opportunity, because Grade 12 is the BEST time to get funding for post-secondary. There will NEVER be a time where there are more opportunities and less competition.

Now, I'm not saying all of this to freak you out – I’m trying to enlighten you for what’s likely to happen so you can prepare - in advance – to lighten the load in Grade 12.

So what are some things you and your student can do this summer to get a jump start on scholarships for Grade 12?

1. Sign up for This is a free online search engine with thousands of scholarships in Canada. Have a look around and get familiar with the platform, and start to look at some real life scholarships. Have your student make their profile and they will start to be matched with scholarships. There will not be many over the summer, but they will start to come out around October of Grade 12 and, when they do, you’ll be all set up and ready to receive them. This is one of the great tools for finding scholarships in Grade 12.

2. Have your son or daughter develop their Activities List. Many scholarships will request a list of extracurricular activities you participated in (usually from grade 10 – 12). You don’t have to wait to make it – get it started this summer while you have some time. Then you’ll have the past information already, and will just have to add your Grade 12 information.

The activities list normally asks for a list of the school and community clubs and sports you belong to, and your volunteer and work experience.

Start by writing down the groups they are part of, or the work they did, by Grade. Then they put their position, their responsibilities (or what they did), the number of hours per week they participated, any awards or recognitions, and the name of a person who can verify their information (a manager, coach, etc.)

Now, there is a good way to do this list, and there is a better way to do it. For the better way, have a look at my post “How to make your best activities list for a scholarship”.

3. Hire me to provide you with personalized help. This is the best way to get clear on what you need to do for your specific situation. You could spend hours and hours searching online, asking around, and guessing, or you can hire me and get it done.

I can help you and your student determine what is the best information and experiences they have, and should use on scholarship applications, as well as

· what they might need to do, or to develop, to be eligible for more scholarships,

· what kinds of scholarships they might qualify for, and how and when to apply.

Basically, we make a personal plan of strategy for Grade 12 so they understand what they need to do, and when. And, remember, it’s not about doing more, more, more. It’s about knowing how and when to take advantage of this golden window of opportunity.

Here's my services page for more information:

I hope you’re enjoying your summer so far!

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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