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Five lies students tell themselves about scholarships

We all tell ourselves little white lies now and then. “I’ll only have one chip.” Or “I’ll work out tomorrow.” These little lies usually don’t affect our bank account, and we don’t think much of them.

But if your child is telling themselves lies about scholarships, it could cost them—and perhaps you!—money.

Here are five lies students tell themselves about scholarships:

1. I don’t have time.

You may not have time, but can you make time?

There are 720 hours in a month. If you use 3 of those hours each month to find and apply for scholarships, you’ll still have 717 hours left to do all of the other things you normally do.

And if parents don’t have time to help their child with scholarships, perhaps they can hire someone (like me!) to help. My role is to make the process faster, easier, and more successful for everyone.

2. I don’t qualify for scholarships.

Does your child like hot tubs and other "backyard experiences"? Of course they do! So, they qualify for scholarships.

There is an essay contest scholarship put on by a hot tub cover manufacturer called "The Cover Guy". For the scholarship, all the applicant needs to do is to discuss their "experience with hot tubs, backyard experiences, and how hot tubs improve life." It doesn’t require any grades, or activities, or references. Just an essay on hot tubs. You don't even need to own a hot tub!

In many of the scholarships offered by organizations outside of the universities, the main requirement is often volunteer work. So if you have volunteer experience, you qualify.

It used to be that to win a scholarship, you had to be a top student. Those days are gone. There are still awards for top students, but there is a myriad of other awards for other kinds of students that never existed before. In fact, there has never been a better time in history to win scholarships!

3. I’ll never win, so why bother?

There are lots of reasons why this is not true.

One of the more obvious: if you’re thinking it’s too competitive so you’re not going to apply, how many other people are thinking the same thing and not applying? There’s a big chunk of your competition gone right there!

Another reason why it might not be as competitive as you think is because some students will be disqualified because they didn’t follow directions. This happens a lot more often than you think! I've seen it happen with my own eyes. Scholarship committees must enforce rules to ensure a fair and equal playing field for all applicants. If someone doesn’t follow the rules, it is no longer fair and equal and they must be disqualified.

But this can actually be good news for you. If you put together a good application and follow all directions, you might win the award over someone else who was more qualified but didn’t follow directions!

4. It’s not worth it.

Really, how much is your time worth? Is three hours worth $1000?

If you don't think it’s worth it, let’s talk about the impact a $1000 scholarship makes. Your student would have to work about 90 hours in a minimum wage job to make the same amount of money as a $1000 scholarship. When students know how to make a solid application, completing a scholarship application usually takes about 3 hours or less. So they traded 3 hours for 90 hours. That’s a pretty good ROI!

Also, any scholarship—even a small one—can help win more awards in the future. You can put that win on your subsequent applications. It impresses scholarship judges, and acts like a stepping stone to bigger awards. A history of winning awards increases your chances of winning more awards.

Besides the money, going through the scholarship essay writing experience builds valuable skills for co-op or summer job interviews because many of the same kinds of questions asked on scholarship applications are asked in interviews.

Winning a scholarship also looks impressive on your resume. So there are lots of benefits of winning a scholarship besides the money.

5. There will be other opportunities later.

Well, yes, but not as many as there are now.

There are more awards for high school students entering university for the first time than there are scholarships for students currently attending university. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has a student in university.

The competition will be tougher in university too. The awards for university students, especially those offered by universities, are usually based on academics and they are very competitive.

Universities tend to offer their big awards at time of entrance. Remember, scholarships are part of their recruitment strategy; they offer the big ones up front, to get students to attend. They offer fewer—and much less money—once you’re attending.

The fact is, you’re not likely to see many (or any) awards for currently attending university students at the same level as the ones for high school students, which generally range from $5000 up to $100,000. Yes, you read that correctly – there are entrance scholarships worth $100,000 (about 60 of them, in fact).

Simply put: Grade 12 is your student’s best opportunity for a scholarship. There will never be another time where there are more opportunities and less competition.

Don’t let your child believe these lies and miss out on this incredible opportunity for scholarships!

Need help with scholarships? Please contact me to discuss my services.

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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