The best way for Grade 11s to prepare for scholarships: do an activities audit
I recently had a fantastic one hour strategy session with a Grade 11 student and her Mom. It’s likely this student will be seeking some of the most competitive scholarships when she’s in Grade 12 next year, e.g. Loran, Schulich, TD Leadership, and they contacted me to discuss what she’s done so far, and if she’s on track to be competitive for some of these larger awards.
They had been following me, and understood that these big scholarships come up early in the Grade 12 year (the deadline for the $100,000 Loran award was Oct. 17th this year!), so it’s mainly information from Grade 10 and 11 that will be on these early applications. They wanted to ensure the student was making the most of her Grade 11 year.
If you follow me, you know I don’t suggest for any Grade 11 student who is already busy to take on an entirely new activity. If the student is already doing some activities they enjoy and doesn’t have a lot of time left over, I help them to find ways to maximize the impact of the activities they are doing now. That was the case with this student; she already had a lot on her plate.
However, we discovered there was an area where she could cut back a bit, and beef up in another area that is likely to have more impact on her applications next year. This will be a relatively easy transition for her to make, and it will give her a lot more bang for the buck when it comes time to apply for the big awards.
One of the ways you and your Grade 11 student can do this too is to do an "activities audit". An activities audit is essentially looking for gaps between requirements and the student's experience, and then making a plan to fill those gaps (at least partially) before Grade 12.
How to do an activities audit:
1. Search out current scholarship applications and read the requirements. It’s currently “scholarship season” for Grade 12 students, so there will be lots of application advertisements coming up between January and May. If you need help finding scholarships, please see my step-by-step guide “How to Find and Win Scholarships”.
A good place to start is to read the scholarship information on the websites of the universities your student is considering. You can also make a profile for your child on ScholarshipsCanada.com, the biggest scholarship search engine in Canada.
2. Collect and save any scholarship applications that look like your child might apply to them next year. Carefully go over the requirements for the award. Don’t forget to read the fine print in case there is “bonus” information.
As you read, ask yourself: Does my child meet most of the requirements? Where is he/she lacking in regards to experience?
Does the award require two references and your child can only think of one person who would make an excellent referee?
Does the award ask about a time your child saw a need in the community and did something to fill it? Does he/she have that experience?
Does the application ask about the student’s future goals? Does your child have a pretty good idea what they’d like to do in the future, and do they have some experiences to “back up” why they want to pursue that field?
If you and your child are really struggling to think of examples that demonstrate the requirements of the application, then that’s the area they need to focus on in Grade 11.
3. Make notes on where your student may need to “beef up” their activities and brainstorm some ways they could do it. If you need help, please contact me for information on my services.
Even if you’re not considering some of the more competitive scholarships in the future, taking these steps now is a great way to prepare for admissions statements and applications to competitive universities like Queen’s, U of T, UBC, McGill, Waterloo, etc. And it will give you a really nice foundational knowledge for Grade 12 scholarships by already knowing how to find them, and what they’re looking for. You'll be that much farther ahead when the "Grade 12 Overwhelm" hits!
I hope you find this information useful!
Want to learn more about how I can help you win scholarships? Please visit my services page.
P.S. Here’s what the Mom I referred to above said about working with me:
“I have been very impressed with Janet's service. I found her approach highly customized, supportive and insightful. She brings a unique, expert perspective on the process of navigating scholarship and university applications, shedding light on what often feels like a very opaque process. Janet provided huge value, encouragement and professional service - I would recommend My Campus GPS highly!”
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.