A scholarship is a monetary award given to a student based on a specific set of requirements or criteria for achievement either before or during post-secondary studies. Scholarships are awarded by institutions, government programs and by private donors.

While many scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, there are many scholarships available in Canada that are given to applicants with well-rounded experiences outside of the classroom, as well.  

Be mindful that scholarship applications can be due at any time of the year so it’s good to start researching early so you can note the deadlines of any for which you plan to apply.  

What are some of the common requirements for scholarships?

  • Participation in extracurricular activities
  • Volunteering experiences
  • Experiences displaying leadership skills and initiative
  • Awards and accomplishments
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Essays 

What are examples of non-academic scholarships?

  • Overcoming challenges and special circumstances (e.g., medical, financial, family related)
  • Leadership experiences
  • Drama and visual arts experiences
  • Essay competitions
  • Volunteering/community involvement
  • Gender (e.g., young women leaders in the community)
  • Ethnicity (e.g., Indigenous) 

Browse Nova Scotia's scholarship programs

Examples of where to look for organization/private scholarships:

Tips for scholarship success

  • Start thinking about scholarships early – you don’t want to miss a deadline or not meet the application criteria because of something you could have changed with enough time. Grade 11 is a better time than Grade 12 to start doing the research.
  • Read the application thoroughly – make sure you meet the application criteria when applying. You don’t want to invest your time completing an application if you aren’t eligible to apply; put your effort into the awards you have the best chance of winning.
  • Make a checklist – do you need a reference? (Think of a couple in advance) Do you need a copy of your transcript? (Don’t leave requesting it to the last minute) Do you need to write an essay?
  • Don’t be a scholarship snob – Apply for the smaller scholarships (if you meet the criteria) and the bigger ones. A $20,000 scholarship sounds fantastic but if you’re competing against thousands of students with impressive resumes it might be not realistic. A $500 scholarship from a group you’re involved with might have less competition, and a few smaller awards can quickly add up. 

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