Getting a scholarship, especially a prestigious one, is every student's dream, and rightly so. The benefits of scholarships are numerous and extend far beyond the immediate economic gain and the peace of mind that comes with it. A scholarship may mean prestige and better internship opportunities, useful connections, improved self-esteem and better career opportunities down the road.
The first obvious advantage of getting a scholarship is, of course, financial. Most students today graduate from college with a huge amount of debt that takes decades to repay. Getting a scholarship will allow you to lessen that financial burden, if not eliminate it completely. Scholarships differ greatly in the amount they offer. Some cover only the cost of a single conference trip or specific study-related costs such as textbooks, accommodation and travel. Others, awarded to the lucky few, offer a "full ride," or full coverage of tuition fees.
For instance, Buick Achievers Scholarship Program gives $25,000 per year for four years to certain undergraduate students majoring in engineering or technology or certain select business-related programs.
Some scholarships, such as National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships, which is awarded to students in STEM fields that pursue topics that are of interest to the Department of Defense, cover all tuition fees and give a monthly stipend on top of that.
Freedom to Study and Academic Achievement
Lessened financial stress means more time and energy to study. Students who receive scholarships don’t have to work to support themselves or have to work less than those without any financial support. More time to study, in turn, means higher academic performance.
If you do choose to work, having a scholarship allows you to be more selective about the jobs you take on. Instead of working for a minimum wage to support yourself, you can choose to do work that is meaningful to you and will open up better career options in the future.
Prestige and Better Career opportunities
Scholarships, especially highly competitive ones, are associated with prestige. If you get a scholarship, it will be recorded on your academic transcript and you can also record it on your resume. When you apply for graduate school or work after graduation, having a prestigious scholarship listed on your resume will raise your credibility in the eyes of potential employers or admission committee.
Writing Your Educational Goals Essay
The application process for most scholarships includes writing an educational goals essay. This is an essay about your goals for the future and how this scholarship is going to help you achieve them. Its purpose is to convince the decision makers that you know what you’re doing, have a plan for the future and that it is basically worth giving to you all this money. Make sure to focus not only on your short-term plans and goals for your degree but also long-term career goals. Don't be afraid to dream big, be confident but realistic and let your passion for your subject and your expertise show.
Tanya Mozias Slavin is a former academic and language teacher. She writes articles about education and linguistic technology, and has published in the Washington Post, Fast Company, CBC and other places. Find her at www.tanyamoziasslavin.com