Liam Kachkar (in the blue shirt) with Outtatown in Burkina Faso last semester

Liam Kachkar (in the blue shirt) with Outtatown in Burkina Faso last semester

Applying for scholarships is tedious work. It can feel like submitting a lottery ticket: what are the chances of actually winning? Students can feel discouraged because the chances of being chosen seem slim. As scholarship “investors,” the return on our investment feels low. But is it really?

I began applying for scholarships in grade ten, but I tended to apply at the last minute and was not very invested in the work. I was happily surprised to earn $250 for a paper, but I focused more on the disappointment of my other applications not being successful.

My attitude toward scholarships began to change in grade 12. I was eligible for way more scholarships than all of the former years combined, so I took the work of applying more seriously. I talked to teachers for help, looked for scholarships on my own, and applied before the night it was due… usually!

I applied for one of CMU’s scholarships in early 2016. I was planning to do Outtatown and then CMU, so I decided to apply for both Leadership Scholarships. My mentality for applying was that of a lottery ticket gambler: I’ll put in this ticket (the essay and references) and if the stars align, I’ll get it. To my surprise, I became the recipient of both the CMU Leadership Scholarship and the Outtatown Leadership Scholarship!

Winning this scholarship has changed my view of scholarships in general. Apply for the scholarship, even if it seems unlikely that you’ll get it. Every one of you has a unique story and view of the topic proposed by a certain scholarship; even if your idea is similar to another applicant, who’s to say your essay won’t be better? I once heard the story of a guy who applied for a women-only scholarship, and because he was the only person that applied, he got it!

Whenever I doubt my chances of receiving a scholarship, I think back on that story. What if I am the only person who applies? The donors who offer scholarships want students to apply. My advice is go and apply, even if it feels like you’re applying for the lottery. You never know; your writing might be exactly what the donor is looking for!

Check out a full list of incoming student scholarships you can apply for here. And don’t forget: the deadline is February 28!

Guest blogger Liam Kachkar is a first year Business student.