10 Scholarships Myths: BUSTED!

Let’s face it! Postsecondary education can be expensive, so pursuing all forms of financial aid is a good idea. Scholarships may be one of those potential sources for YOU! However, there are many myths surrounding scholarships that may deter you from searching, and applying, for them — let’s bust those myths once and for all!


MYTH #1: You must be a high academic achiever, have an amazing talent, or be a student athlete to win scholarships.

While it is true that certain attributes such as high academic achievement will put you in the running for more scholarships (especially those scholarships with a large award amount), there are many scholarships that reward volunteerism in the community, participation in extracurricular activities, or leadership skills. The applicant’s heritage or religious affiliations may be considered. Some scholarships are looking for the answer to an essay question. There are all types of eligibility requirements. Scholarship committees decide who best meets the criteria, and it may not be the person who has the highest average!

MYTH #2: Scholarships are only for those students attending university.

False. Many scholarships are offered to those intending to go to college, trade school, and technical school as well as university.

MYTH #3.  I wouldn’t receive a scholarship because I haven’t participated in lots of extracurricular activities. 

This is not entirely true. You may not have been involved in many activities, but what else have you done? Have you held a part-time job while going to school? This demonstrates responsibility and discipline. Being involved in one ongoing activity (for example, if you’ve been involved in helping out at a food bank for a number of years) can show dedication to a cause. Supporting your family in a caregiver role (babysitting your siblings after school) shows responsibility and devotion. Do not discount anything you have done. There are all types of scholarships that are looking for all types of students.

MYTH #4. I wouldn’t receive a scholarship because I am not a good writer.

Not every scholarship application requires an essay. But if it is a requirement, your story is the most important part of the essay. Of course, it goes without saying that you must follow the instructions given for the essay, and that your grammar and spelling must be intact. That is why it is wise to have your essay proofread by someone — no matter how great a writer you are. And if those elements are in place, it is your story that will matter most!

MYTH #5: The only scholarships out there are large ones with a lot of competition.

The scholarships with large awards are the ones we hear about. In fact, there are many scholarships with smaller awards and a lot less competition —  which means a better chance of winning one!

MYTH #6: Applying for scholarships with a small award amount is not worth the time and effort. 

Applying for “smaller” scholarships is so worth it! Winning a scholarship, no matter the amount, can help cover the costs of books, supplies and the hidden costs of attending a postsecondary institution. And don’t minimize the significance of winning a scholarship, no matter how small. Being the recipient of a scholarship of any size looks great on many applications — job, university or college programs, or other scholarship applications. It is a recognition of your achievements!

MYTH #7. There is a “scholarship season.” 

While the majority of deadlines fall in the spring, there are awards offered throughout the year.

MYTH #8. You should begin your search in your last year of high school. 

Begin your search before your senior year. There are scholarships with deadlines in the fall – at the beginning of senior year when you may be very busy – and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to apply for them! Get a head start in being prepared and ready to apply when the time comes.

MYTH #9: Receiving a scholarship means your entire education is fully paid.

These full-ride scholarships are not as plentiful as you would think. Most of the time, students will have to use a variety of strategies to cover their education. Think loans, grants, part-time jobs, and summer jobs.

MYTH #10: Millions of scholarship dollars go unclaimed.

This claim can lead us to believe there are scholarships out there for the taking (that’s the myth part). However, let’s look at that claim when set against the following examples: At Western University about 98% of scholarships are awarded every year. At Fanshawe College less than 1% of the money available to students in scholarships and bursaries isn’t awarded. The reality is that “around 3% of private and public scholarship funding goes unclaimed each year” and if money is unclaimed, it is generally due to narrow eligibility requirements. (See here to link to source.). So, if you are going to look for scholarships, it will take time and effort. But it just may pay off too!

Now that we have BUSTED THE MYTHS surrounding scholarships, start your search, find a scholarship that fits you, and apply; and if your high school subscribes to The Scholarship Report, be sure to check it out for scholarship listings and tips to help you with your scholarship applications!