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There are scholarships with deadlines throughout the year. However, when you should find and apply for these awards depends on your or your child’s level of study. 

Start Early: The Key to Winning Scholarships

When it comes to looking and applying for scholarships, the best advice is to start early. Whether you’re a high school student or already in college or university, getting a head start can significantly boost your chances of success. Grade 10 and 11 (sophomore and junior year) are crucial times to get set up on the right path.

High School Students: Proactive Planning for Major Scholarships

Grade 12 (senior year) is a critical year for scholarship applications, but the groundwork for winning major scholarships should begin much earlier. Students in grades 9 and 10 should start thinking about and actively shaping their profiles to align with scholarship requirements. This proactive planning can make a significant difference when it’s time to apply.

It’s important to note that major awards for high school students are due when you or your child are in grade 12. This means that scholarship committees will examine grades, résumé lines, and overall impact from grade 9 to 11.

Shaping Your Profile: What to Focus On

Starting in grade 9 or 10, focus on:

  • Academic Excellence: Maintain a strong GPA and take challenging courses.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Participate in clubs, sports, and volunteer work to build a well-rounded résumé.
  • Leadership Roles: Seek leadership positions in school or community organizations.
  • Community Service: Engage in volunteer work to demonstrate commitment and your passion for impact.

Grade 12 Students: Start Applying Now

If you or your child are in grade 12, you can start applying for scholarships as soon as possible. This is a great time to secure funding for college or university, and many scholarships are specifically targeted at high school students.

Don’t wait—begin your applications early to increase your chances of success. Many scholarships are offered with varying scholarship deadlines throughout the school year, so stay on top of these dates.

College and University Students: Apply Year-Round

For those already in college or university, continue to apply for scholarships throughout the year. New opportunities continually arise, so maintain a regular search and application routine.

So, Is Now a Good Time to Apply for Scholarships?

Yes, it is! Scholarships are available throughout the year, so there’s no bad time to start. For current college or university students, new opportunities pop up all the time. The key is to regularly check for new listings and apply often.

Finding Scholarships: Where to Look

To find scholarships, start by searching online databases, school-specific resources, and community organizations. Here’s a complete guide on how to find Canadian scholarships.

Additionally, many high school guidance offices have databases with school and local awards, which may be less competitive. So, don’t be shy about asking! You might just find scholarship programs perfectly suited to your profile. 

Similarly, college and university students can consult their post-secondary financial aid office for featured scholarships and student aid options. 

Scholarship Deadlines: Don’t Miss Out!

Pay close attention to scholarship deadlines. Mark them in your calendar and set reminders to ensure you submit your applications on time. Many students miss out on opportunities simply because they miss the deadline.

Understanding Eligibility Requirements

Each scholarship has specific eligibility requirements, which might include academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, or financial need. Always read the requirements to ensure you are eligible for the award before applying. It can be frustrating to invest time into an application, only to learn later that you or your child are ineligible. 

Summary: When to Start Looking and Applying for Scholarships

  • Start your scholarship search early and apply often.
  • Begin planning and shaping your profile in grade 9 or 10.
  • Focus on academic excellence, extracurricular involvement, leadership, and community service.
  • If you’re in grade 12, start applying for scholarships immediately.
  • Continue applying for scholarships throughout college or university.
  • Keep track of deadlines and apply on time.

By following these tips and staying organized, you can improve your or your child’s chances of winning scholarships and securing the financial aid needed for your education and career pathway.

If you still feel uncertain about where to start or the scholarship journey sounds too daunting, check out our scholarship tools. They’re designed to empower you or your child to take advantage of the numerous scholarship opportunities that exist. 

Christopher Grafos, Ph.D., is the founder and chief scholarship mentor at BridgesEDU Scholarships.

He’s a first-generation university graduate whose life was transformed by education and winning scholarships. 

Scholarships help students financially, but they also help advance a student’s career. It’s his life’s work to champion this message and share the secrets to finding and winning scholarships. 

Read more about Christopher’s journey here

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