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Don’t Be Shy, Apply!


A student’s point of view on overcoming application anxiety.

Listen, I know it can be hard to apply for things you feel like you won’t get. Maybe it’s a job, a university or a scholarship. I’ve been there. But even if it’s hard at first, it’s worth it in the long run. I’m going to share my experience of application anxiety below, and show you why you shouldn’t be shy, and take that chance and apply!

Applying can feel overwhelming

In grade 12, I was excited about going off to university. I researched everything I could think of and came across so many different scholarships that I could apply for. But, self-doubt started to creep in. Sure my grades were good, but someone else’s were probably better; and I did some cool things, but I was pretty sure someone had done way more, way cooler stuff. I felt underqualified compared to the ‘perfect applicant’ (who may or may not exist). I was afraid that even if I did apply, I would end up with $0.00.

Play to your strengths

But then I started to look at things differently. Sure, the external scholarships (awards from organizations besides your school) all had requirements to deal with, but they were all different. Some were focused on grades, some on sports, and others on things like volunteer service. I started seeking out awards that played to my strengths. I reflected on my experiences with the various organizations with which I had volunteered, coached and studied.

Make use of your network

I spoke with my teachers and mentors at my university and found out about the many internal scholarships for these programs that I qualified for! They also encouraged me to reflect on the little moments. When I did, things that seemed unimportant at first came together to form a bigger picture. Moments like coaching kids as a junior speed skating coach in Grade 10, then those same kids becoming my junior coaches years later. Or how watching nature documentaries with my parents introduced me to my passion for biology. It was these day-to-day experiences I felt made me into the person I was, and what made me stand apart from other applicants.

Small awards can (and do!) add up

In the end, did I get every scholarship I applied for? No. But I got a lot more than if I had never even tried. Through scholarships, I actually had enough to cover my first year’s tuition! It was hard to believe that a couple of months prior I was too shy to apply, but ended up saving thousands of dollars.

Keep on applying

Applying for scholarships is still something I do today. In fact, I recently qualified as a finalist for an athletic award because I wrote about my current sport: pickleball! (It’s super fun and you should try it.) It’s important to not let yourself get discouraged. Sure, it can be disappointing, but there are always other opportunities to seek out and apply for — and that goes way beyond scholarships.

What’s the worst that could happen?

My key takeaway? Go for it – apply! The worst they can say is no, and they are usually extremely nice about it. Don’t be worried about others: focus on your experiences and the little moments that lead you to where you are today. But most of all, don’t be shy – apply!

Ready to put these tips into practice? Check out all the open scholarships currently listed on Student Awards.