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Scholarships beget scholarships

There is a very good reason why I say, “Scholarships beget scholarships.”

When I was the coordinator of a national undergraduate and graduate level scholarship program, I had the opportunity to watch professors choose candidates for the awards. The winners were almost always students who had won previous awards.

In fact, there was a section on the application, aptly called “previous awards and achievements”, which specifically requested this information. In this section, students could list their university entrance scholarships, in-course awards, research papers, or other credentials.

The purpose of the previous awards section is for the applicant to demonstrate past achievement. Why do the judges want to know about past achievement? Because one of the best predictors of future success is past success.

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, and the same is true of success. People who experience small victories build the confidence – and the momentum – to keep going.” (see Forbes article for more information).

Anecdotally, I have seen this happen with some of my clients, and even with my own son. Some of the students I work with are honestly surprised to win a scholarship but, once it happens, something changes. Even after winning one award, they begin to see themselves as a contender for other awards. They become much more engaged in the process and are eager to write more applications.

And that’s a good thing because after winning one award, it’s more likely that you will win others the future. A scholarship is a mark of success on your record. It’s impressive. Even a small scholarship can be a steppingstone to a larger one.

That’s why I say, “Scholarships beget scholarships.”

Do you sometimes notice at student awards events that a handful of people tend to win many of the awards? I hear people say, “That guy/girl wins all the awards.” Knowing what I know, I’d say there are two main reasons why some students win many awards:

1. They have a previous record of success. They have a track record that impresses the judges or funders. Again, back when I was a university scholarship coordinator, I heard professors and other judges point out specific achievements of applicants as they review applications. They are impressed with a winner, someone who has been vetted by another person/organization and has been deemed worthy of an award. And that gives added weight to their current application.

2. They compete for scholarships more often. They take the time to enter the contest or to write and submit the applications. They make it a priority to apply because they see themselves as a qualified applicant with a real chance of winning.

Scholarships beget scholarships.

So, if you are (or if you have) a grade 11 student, and you’re ready to start to build your own path to future success, one of the best ways to do so is by winning a scholarship (or two) in grade 12.

Get started now so you have something impressive to put in that “previous awards and achievements” section in the future!

Need help getting started with scholarships? I've helped students win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships. Click here to see 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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