Tips from a Scholarship Winner: 5 Ways to Win Big

Hello fellow bloggers and aspiring scholarship recipients,

I wanted to share tips and tricks I’ve learned after for applying for at least 40 scholarships over the past few years.


The road to financial freedom is often rocky especially for those students who don’t  yet have networking connections or who haven’t fully attained a specific kind of citizen. UNTIL now, that is. I’d say that 40 applications later, I’ve learned enough tricks of the trade and even seen enough success to help YOU become Canada’s Next Top Scholarship Winner.tenor.gif

If you’re looking for seemingly hidden scholarships, are determined and want  to get through school without thousands of shackling debts then read on:

Tip #1: Grades Aren’ Everything

Growing up, the consensus in my house was always: Don’t get a distracting job to save up for college, just get good grades so you win scholarships instead. Spoiler alert: really hard to make that work out. Of the hundreds of scholarships I’ve seen,  about 15 prioritized academic standing… the rest wanted to know how you volunteered/made meaningful change in your community. Humanitarian efforts often outweigh the fears students have like not having high enough grades or not yet being a legal citizen of said country. I’ve also noticed the scholarships you receive IN university  care more about you maintaining your GPA. But scholarships for high school students, in my experience, just want to help the helpful students succeed. So unless you’re Einstein-level smart (in which case you should be searching for the few scholarships that only want top scoring students) then just get your volunteer experience up.


Tip #2: Less is More Sometimes

What I mean by that is that multinational scholarships open across four or five countries are your worst nightmare if you’re just an average scoring student with less than 20 volunteer hours. Think of ALL the straight A students in your school alone that want scholarships…then add the competition from all the other schools in Canada…then all the other schools in the US…then all the schools in whatever country. I think you already get where I’m going with this. If you’re applying for international $$$, you’d better have enough assets to be on the front page of a magazine or something. If your accomplishments aren’t that big (yet) you should re-condsider applying.


downloadTip #3: Always Be Nice to People (Not just While Applying)

My most successful applications have always been highly influenced by the positive words that a teacher/counselor put in for me. Even some counselors who I’d only worked with ONCE happily met reference letter deadlines to help me all because of this one virtue: RESPECT.  If you treat people kindly and choose to show genuine care, they will reciprocate when you need it the most. Here’s the key as I said in last week’s letter to myself : you can get to great places individually but you’ll never get to the top without the help of others.

Tip #4: Don’t get Discouraged

In my experience, it took so much as 25 applications before I got so much as a call back.  I’ve researched it and this kind of outcome is actually common amongst over-achievers because the scholarship economy is just that competitive. Remember nothing easy in life is ever worth having. So if you’re really smart, you’ll go in with confidence like you know you’ll immediately win…but also internally know that win will probably take a few hits first.

Tip #5: Be Ruthless in Your Research

Make a list of all the things that make you stand out. Go to Google. Search for those scholarships ex: #being a young woman in politics or #posting great pics on insta. Here’s a kick-start for all Canadians or just some helpful college tips if you’re just considering post-secondary all together. If you’re in Alberta where the trades are kickin, take a look at this and this. If you’re specifically in Edmonton, might I recommend the generous Edmonton Community Foundation renown for their excellent scholars and community projects. I’ve seen success with this organization and highly recommend them to any local students trying to make their dreams come true.

12 thoughts on “Tips from a Scholarship Winner: 5 Ways to Win Big

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the grades! I’ve always spent my time studying, without taking the time to find a meaningful job or volunteer (I was lucky I didn’t HAVE TO do it), because people around me told me that having good grades was more important. I do and always did have good grades but I’m pretty sure that a few “work experiences” would benefit me so much! Great post!

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Brilliant advice, Imani! Very true that grades will only carry you so far – more & more organisations are looking for hobbies, volunteering & work experience that mark you out from the crowd. Great tips! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’ve learned a lot from you through this post. I never knew volunteering was part of a scholarship award. In my part of the world, Scholarships are generally for high scoring students – best students. These are selected after the qualifying examination. And the high score needs to be retained to continue to enjoy the scholarship.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Love your post Imani! ❤️❤️❤️ Trust me ….. I’ve been part of the recruitment panel in some organizations. Over and above grades, we look for the “right fit” …… optimizing the match between the organization and the potential employee. I’ve always looked for a heathy balance of heart and mind, but I always prioritized CHARACTER. Being passionate about training all my corporate life, I’ve always believed in hiring for attitude initially, then training for skills after…… 😀😀😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow that means a lot coming from an actual recruiting officer! Yeah: “attitude initially, training later”…I like that. You can always teach someone to code, type, build etc. but it’s hard to teach character and mindset. Thanks for sharing 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Imani. You captured it. Now in a “perfect” world, organizations would love it when their potential employee has both attitude and skill at the onset. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lol grades don’t matter! Seriously though, I was just telling my younger family members this. Obviously it helps, but there is so much more at play. Tons of scholarships prefer to see kids who just continuously do better throughout school rather than always get A’s. This was a great post!

    Liked by 3 people

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