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Winning awards to pay for university

How do I increase my chances of winning awards to pay for university?

Applying for scholarships, awards and bursaries requires a lot of planning and preparation. The key is to start early and get strategic.  

Be proactive 

Your success in getting scholarships, awards and bursaries starts with you. To find scholarships, awards and bursaries to reduce the cost of post-secondary you need time and patience. You also need willpower and motivation. You’re more likely to qualify for most awards if you start the process early. Your chance of qualifying increases when you start before Grade 12.  

Some scholarships look at what you’ve done before Grade 12, so if you participate in extracurricular activities in Grades 10 and 11 you’ll boost your chances of winning an award, scholarship or bursary. 

For scholarships that are based on academic performance, Grade 11 is an important school year. This is because you’ll have to apply for many scholarships and awards before you’ve completed grade 12. However, interim Grade 12 marks will also be considered. 

The funder’s checklist 

What do you need to do to boost your chances of scholarship success in Grade 12? You’ll need to know what funders want. Research each scholarship, award or bursary to learn what you can do to stand out. On top of academic performance, many funders want to see students with a variety of skills and experiences. They often want to see students take part in community service or leadership. 

In addition to finding out what qualities funders look for in a student, make sure you know what documents you need to submit with your application.  This should be listed in the criteria section of each award.  Be sure you submit exactly what the funder is looking for. 


VIU scholarships 

VIU offers high school students a variety of internal entrance scholarships, which are primarily based on academic performance or community involvement. To help you save time and increase your chances of scholarship selection, VIU offers a convenient and comprehensive way to apply for more than $4.3 million in internal scholarships, awards and bursaries through one application. 

Once you receive your VIU student number, you can apply for the VIU entrance awards. You simply complete the Scholarship, Award and Bursary profile within your online student record. The deadline to complete the form is midnight on March 30. To qualify you must meet at least one of these criteria: 

  • grade 12 graduating student starting full-time studies at VIU for the upcoming year 
  • student enrolling in a university program for the first time since high school 
  • student who has had an interruption of university studies (more than one year) and will be re-entering to complete their university program. 

Learn more by visiting our online how-to guide. 

Other scholarships 

Many businesses, organizations and groups offer scholarships. VIU’s categorized list of external awards details more than $21.2 million in funding to help reduce the financial burden associated with post-secondary education. 

There is no universal application to put you in the running for external awards. You’ll need to set aside time to review each award to determine eligibility, deadlines, and submission criteria. Many students say their grades can be barriers to applying, but not all scholarships are based on grades.  

Some external funders waive grade requirements in favour of community involvement or volunteer experience. When you’re looking for ways to get involved, choose activities that resonate with who you are as a person. For example, if you are a champion of animal rights, you may want to look at opportunities that speak to that passion.  

Be a time-investor 

Engaging in extra-curricular activities enhances your personal development and can keep you connected with the global community. But volunteer roles can be demanding and time-consuming. This is another reason it’s important to start early. When you Invest your time and effort in high school, you are bound to benefit as you pursue your post-secondary goals. 

Learn about other ways to pay for university with the financial options checklist. 


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