Explore Opportunities to Enhance Your Application

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It is now May. Spring is here and graduation is just around the corner. However, graduating students: Don’t stop looking for scholarships yet! There are scholarships with deadlines in the months of May and June.

And for those of you heading into Grade 12 in the fall, you may be thinking of starting your own scholarship search soon. Keep in mind that while many scholarship committees are looking for decent academics, active participation in your school, volunteerism in the community, and leadership, your application can be strengthened if you seize other opportunities as well — opportunities that will not only enhance your university or scholarship application but improve your skills too.

What are the things you are interested in? Bilingualism? Entrepreneurship? International Development? Politics? There are programs, conferences, and opportunities available in your area of interest. Many of these opportunities encompass leadership, creativity, initiative, or volunteerism all in one.

And what are the potential benefits to you of exploring other opportunities?

  • Improvement of second language skills
  • Travel, and discovery of a new culture
  • Enhanced leadership skills
  • Opportunity to give back to the community
  • Empowering you to take on new challenges and gain confidence
  • Potential for networking
  • Learning how to run your own business
  • Mentorship opportunities

Below are some examples of ways to enrich your learning. Some of the deadlines for the 2015-16 year have passed, but there is always next year!


Ontario Government Summer Company: Run your own student business. Receive start-up money, advice and mentorship. Deadline: May 6th.


Plan International Canada’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC): Youth advisors support Plan Canada in a governance and advisory capacity. The YAC is comprised of 10 young people ages 15-21 who are passionate about international development issues. Applicants should have experience and interest in program development and management, international development, advocacy, and especially governance. Deadline: May 22nd.


EXPLORE: A five-week French-Language Bursary Program in the spring or summer. Discover another region of Canada and meet new people. Participants in Explore receive a $2,200 bursary that covers tuition fees for the programs, instructional materials, meals and accommodations, workshops, and other mandatory activities.

French for the Future: National Ambassador Youth Forum (NAYF): Brings together bilingual high school students from across Canada; provides the opportunity to participate in interactive workshops and activities centered on the significance of bilingualism; intensive training in leadership and event planning. The 2016 NAYF will be held in Toronto, Ontario, from August 22-26, 2016. It is held in a different city every year. This is a great travel opportunity too, as all travel, food and lodging expenses are paid for. Applications will be open from April 1st–May 9th.

YMCA Summer Work Student Exchange: A unique 6-weeks-in-the-summer national exchange program for youth ages 16-17; provides the opportunity to improve second official language skills, and gain important employment experience through a work placement while on exchange. There is still time to apply.


Ontario Ministry of Education: Minister’s Student Advisory Council (MSAC)A group of approximately 60 students from across the province share their ideas and provide advice to the Minister of Education on a variety of topics regarding Ontario’s publicly funded education system.

Ontario Student Trustee: Student trustees are responsible for acting as a link between students and the board. They are also members of their Student Senate, or Student Advisory Council. The best way to become a student trustee is to get involved in your school. Gain an understanding of what needs to be improved. Maybe work in your students’ council or another group. Then inquire about how your board elects its student trustees. All boards hold elections in April; some require an application, or a speech before the student senate, and others require interviews. Talk to your principal, superintendent, or your current student trustee for more information.


The Foundation for the Study of Processes of Government in Canada: Forum for Young Canadians: Students ages 15-19 who are interested in politics spend one week in Ottawa experiencing how decisions are made nationally and sharing their voices and opinions. Participants are given opportunities to learn about governance, democracy, and citizenship. The Foundation’s programs all serve to foster leadership skills in young Canadians. If funding the trip is a challenge for you, there are bursaries available for qualifying students. There’s also a good chance you could find sponsors in your community to support this unique educational opportunity. Applications are currently being received for all three sessions in 2017.

Parliament of Canada: House of Commons Page Program (for a High School Graduate going into 1st year): Each year, 40 students are selected from high schools and CEGEPs across Canada to go to Ottawa to work as Pages in the House of Commons. Pages have the opportunity to learn about the House of Commons while witnessing the legislative process first hand Those hired as Pages work on a part-time basis during their first year of study at one of the universities in the National Capital Region. Pages are paid $14,789 in 26 equal payments over a 12-month period. In addition, a sum of $1,200 is paid at the end of the employment period. The annual recruitment cycle is from October to December.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) LEADERSHIP (Canada)

SHAD: Each year, top-performing Grades 10, 11 and 12 students (Secondaire IV, V, or CEGEP 1 in Quebec) or the international equivalent, compete for a place in the month-long summer program, which is focused on STEM disciplines. More than 600 students are accepted annually to participate and live in-residence on one of the host university campuses across Canada during the July program. SHAD participants are also eligible for a summer volunteer internship for the month of August, immediately following the July in-residence university program. Opportunities are available for those with proven financial need, eliminating barriers to participation.

To find other opportunities, talk to your guidance counselor, talk to your teacher(s), and do a Google search of your own using key words of interest to you. Also, follow us on Twitter. Current opportunities are frequently posted.

Whether or not you will get a scholarship because you took an opportunity remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: you will have enhanced your skills, made some new friends, and expanded your horizon! That makes it worth the exploration, don’t you think?