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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Scholarships

August 2, 2023

Receiving bursaries, scholarships, donations, and gifts are wonderful experiences, most of all because they lessen your financial burden and support your success. As students, we all know that going to school (and let's face it... living as an adult) is unbelievably expensive, which is why it's important to take advantage of all the help you can get.

Now you may be thinking, "There's no way it's that easy". I wrote this to challenge that assumption. You don't have to be the smartest, most charming, most athletic, or most involved to find a few quarters under the couch cushions. With a few hours of dedication and solid effort you, my friend, will be breathing easier!

Let's break it down and discuss the most important steps one should take while in the pursuit of catch-free funds. For ease of access allow me to suggest five ways to increase your chance of obtaining ever-loving support from the school, community, and beyond.

Apply for bursaries through Student Awards and Financial Aid

By far the simplest, and in my opinion, the most effective way to obtain bursaries and scholarships is through the school's Student Awards and Financial Aid website. They have many resources that can point you in the direction of both internal and external Awards, bursaries and scholarships

There exists something called the "General Bursary/Donor Award Application". If you retain only one piece of advice from this, it would be to APPLY for the General Bursary/Donor Award Application. The General Bursary/Donor Award Application is a single detailed application that you fill out once every year that allows you to be considered for all of the Donor Awards and General Bursaries offered through the school. Even if you receive a small award, it’s better than nothing! 

Full disclosure, this is not the shortest application you'll see. It takes me (a seasoned pro) about 30 to 45 minutes to complete the entire package. This is because you are required to provide detailed financial information and complete brief questionnaires regarding your current studies and your aspirations. BUT, it should be known that every time I have completed the application, I have received an award. Let that be the incentive you need to do it too.

In addition to the General Bursary/Donor Award Application, there are even more awards for which you can apply. These, however, will require separate applications that can vary in length and detail. That being said, most people won't go to the extra effort of completing separate applications, which increases your odds of success.

Search for opportunities through your clubs and societies

If you're the type of person who is involved with clubs and societies on or off campus, this strategy may be for you. Often these types of student groups are chapter members of professional organizations or regional sections and in most cases, part of the parent organizations have a mission to support and encourage students. For instance, in my case for engineers there exist many companies (Hydro One, Enbridge, Bruce Power, GM, OPG) and professional societies (Engineers Canada and ONWiE) that support students by offering scholarships and paid employment. This is where you come in; you can turn your passion or pastime into an opportunity for financial support.

Test your online treasure hunting skills

If clubs and extracurriculars aren't your scene, perhaps consider a virtual treasure hunt. A simple Google search for "bursary scholarship Ontario Canada" or "{insert major here} scholarships" will result in a plethora of results. Most of them will be helpful in some way, shape, or form, and the good news is that they can be related to any of your passions.

Since I've been around the block a time or two, let me point you in the right direction with a few helpful leads as to where some of these scholarships are hidden on the interwebs. Please see the list below for your bank account's pleasure:

Network, network, network

Now, I'm sure you've heard this a MILLION times, "networking is important". If you haven't, just wait… you will. The longer I've been in school the more I've come to understand the importance of your networks. They can help you in so many ways, including referring you to scholarships or bursaries.

You don't have to have mentors or industry connections to make use of your networks. People in your immediate circles, like your friends, family, and colleagues are incredible assets. If your grandparents send you some random newspaper clipping about a scholarship that may be of interest to you, then you're one step further than you would be without them (even if it turns out that the lead is a bust). The same thing goes for a supportive staff member at school, who may mention details about a program or event that could lead to bigger things.

Another advantage of having strong networks is the ability to ask for references or recommendations. Some applications will require that you provide personal and/or professional references to attest to your fabulousness. In this case, having good relationships with professors, managers, and staff at school are unmatchable assets. In a lot of cases, a good reference or recommendation can be the make-or-break element of allocation or hiring decisions.

Now you see what I mean, networking IS important! If you're new to networking or if you're not sure where to start, try making a LinkedIn account and seeing the Career Centre  to get help setting it up. Since you probably use social media to stay in touch with a lot of the other people in your life, why should your professional networks be any different?

Give thanks and make time to give back in the ways you can

If you've received free money, it came from somewhere or from someone.

Saying thank you and making time to give back is the most crucial step in continuing the cycle of support. Saying thank you can look different depending on your circumstances and your connection to the source of the support. If you have the ability, to say thanks in person is much more meaningful and sincere. If not, try sending an email or online message. Anything is better than nothing. The reason why it's so important to take the time to say thank you is that it allows you to share the impact that this has had on your life and encourages the continued support of other students.

Giving back is equally important. Helping others, however you can, is a fantastic way to make your financial support go further. Since you've received some free money, some of your financial stress (and hopefully overall stress) has been alleviated. With the extra time and energy, this should afford you, think of how you can help others. I'm not saying that you should donate your free money or go build a house for those in need. But you should try to contribute in smaller ways, like volunteering for an afternoon or helping a friend understand a tough concept. Even something as simple as passing along an opportunity that doesn't fit your needs to someone else can make all the difference. Take the 10 seconds, trust me.

As a parting note, if you're ever in a serious pinch because let's face it, life happens, you can always go to Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA) and request emergency assistance. They can help you determine the best way for you to get what you need and they can help you with budgeting and financial planning. Sometimes we could all use support and they're there for you.