When it comes to scholarships there is one really important rule to follow: apply early and apply often
Scholarship money can make the biggest difference when studying. Even a few hundred dollars can pay for some books or tools, while some scholarships are so valuable the holders leave uni or polytech without owing a cent in loans.
But here’s the interesting point – lots of scholarships actually don’t get awarded each year simply because nobody applied.
Not just for the brainiest
More and more scholarships are not based on academic smarts alone. Other criteria such as financial need, ethnicity, leadership potential, community involvement, work experience, artistic ability and athletic skill may also be what scores you the money.
And while lots of people associate scholarships with university study, there are also scholarships available at polytechnics (MIT for example has dozens of first year student scholarships) and at some private training establishments, and the industry training organisations and apprentice trainers can also help with scholarships.
In some places (well, OK then, America) you can even get scholarships for doing nothing by just registering for them.
Finding your pot of gold
- Start by searching for as many scholarships as you think you could be eligible for.
- Search for what scholarships are available based on your ethnicity, iwi & hapu, church, hobbies, location, future plans and even what your parents do
- Search for scholarships from corporates, local business organisations and from charities or non-profit groups like Rotary.
- Tell your careers adviser that you really want to find scholarships to apply for and ask them to help you.
- Contact the place you hope to study at and just ask them what they have going. You may be very surprised.
- If you are in Year 13 and heading to uni, go to the MoneyHub website. They have a great base of scholarship links and info for you, plus good tips to help.
Securing your scholarship(s)
- Most scholarship applications will ask you to write telling you to outline your dreams or why you should win the scholarship.
- That’s not that tough, and once you have done it you can adapt your information for future applications.
- Writing down your why and who can be strongly motivating as well.
- Apply for lots. The more applications you make, the better your chances of getting one. Apply early and apply often.
- Only apply for scholarships you are fully eligible for, follow directions to the letter, and submit your application on time.
So many types available to you
There is a huge range of scholarships available to you right now so get onto them. Here are a few examples that have been in the news here recently:
- Sports scholarships. Available at a number of institutions where, like at EIT, they have been supporting and celebrating talented local students for years.
- Regional farming scholarships. Farming has a huge number of support programmes and scholarships for students, some based on where you live like this one is.
- Maori or Pacific origin. Scholarships everywhere if you go looking, with recent additions being these music and creative scholarships from Massey University
When a 17-year-old Italian school student was suspended for using an app to take orders and undercut his school’s tuck shop, he thought his chances of gaining a scholarship were all gone. Far from it.
He subsequently received a bunch of job offers from startups and marketing companies, and then a prestigious scholarship from the Einaudi Foundation, a socio-economic institute which usually reserves its scholarships for post-graduate students. They believed the student's initiative should be "encouraged, not persecuted”.
Encourage yours. Get your initiative onto that scholarship search right now.