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Volunteering is not cancelled

I had an interesting conversation with a parent recently about their grade 11 child's experience with volunteering. In case you can benefit from what I told them, please read on...

I told them volunteer experience will help their child qualify for more scholarships because many funders look for volunteer experience in applicants. They responded that their child "can't" participate in any activities now because they are in lockdown and their regular activities are cancelled.

Really? They can't volunteer anywhere, doing anything?

I get it. With so many students in lockdown and not able to participate in their normal extra-curricular activities, you may think it's OK to just wait until your organized activities get back up and running. I mean, scholarship funders will understand, right? It's OK to have a lapse in my activities for 6 months or so if I've been in lockdown...right?


Of course, I'm not saying you should be volunteering if you have sick family member(s), or if you're living in an unsafe or unhealthy situation. I'm talking about if all members of your household are healthy and you're in a relatively normal situation, where you're basically hanging out at home with little to do other than your schoolwork.

If that's the case, I suggest you get moving now! Get resourceful and start thinking of ways you can make a contribution to your community. Scholarships are not cancelled and neither is volunteering. Many students are finding ways to volunteer so, if they can do it, you can too. You'll just need to look a little harder and get more creative.

I've had this conversation before with parents and students. To prove a point, I got onto Google and within 5 minutes I found many different wonderful ideas for volunteering.

The website is a great place to start. Even if you can't find anything in your area, it will give you ideas of activities you can do on your own. For example, who are the shut-ins in your neighbourhood? They could be elderly folk, or people with compromised immne systems. Find out if they need help. Could you do some yardwork, run errands, or walk their dog?

If you're into the environment, do a neighbourhood clean up. For extra impact, recruit other people to do a clean up in their neighbourhoods. Take pictures of the garbage you collected and post it on social media to educate others. Write to your local council to ask for more garbage cans.

Do you love to do something creative, like baking? Start a baking blog and post videos to share some of your baking tips. Or simply educate others on something you feel strongly about by starting a letter writing campaign. Don't wait for the opportunities to come to you. It's all about taking initiative and taking action.

Remember, scholarships are based on merit. That means you must earn them in some way. People who actively seek ways to contribute to their community will be the ones who reap rewards with scholarships. If you give up volunteering and community involvement because your organized activities stopped -- they stopped, so you stopped -- you will have far fewer opportunities for scholarships.

The students who win scholarships are those who show initiative. They see a need, step up to the plate, and take action -- even in small ways.

So, my advice here is take action today. Find something that needs to be done and do it. Or, think of something you really like to do and find a way to involve other people in it. Either way you'll be helping others, and helping yourself.

Need help preparing for scholarships in grade 11? Find out about my small group Scholarship Prep Bootcamps, and one-to-one coaching packages here.

Best wishes!

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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