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Improve your changes of getting that scholarship.

There are hundreds of scholarships and bursaries available for Aboriginal students pursuing post-secondary education, and the secret to putting together a successful application is really no secret at all.

There are a few simple things you can do to improve your chances of getting the scholarships you apply for, explained Sky Bridges, vice-president of business development with the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business, which operates the Foundation for the Advancement of Aboriginal Youth (FAAY). Over the past decade, more than 1,000 students from across the country have received scholarships and bursaries from the corporations that have partnered with FAAY to help the next generation of Aboriginal leaders further their education.

The first thing you have to do, Bridges said, is make sure you're providing all of the information the scholarship application asks for.

"Quite often, I don't know if people are lazy or they don't read things through, but they don't give us all the information that we're asking for. That's one thing I can't stress enough is reading the checklist. I would say about half of our applications are sent back because they weren't completely filled out properly."

You can also improve your chances of success by including some information about yourself, talking about your current situation and why you want to pursue your education.

"And maybe even a little bit about how this scholarship will allow them to go. I want to hear that without it maybe they can't, or what some of the difficult hurdles are," he said. You should also provide information about community activities you've been involved in.

Presentation is also important when completing your scholarship application. If the application calls for an essay that is no more than two pages long, provide two pages and don't try to cram in as much information as you can by decreasing the font size or using single-spacing, Bridges said. By doing that you're not only making the submission difficult to read, you're providing much more information than is being asked for.

Once you've completed your application, there is still one more step to take. Get someone else to check it over for you.

"The editing is extremely important," Bridges said. "When you're sitting there writing it and you're the only one looking at it, it's good to get an outside impression on what it is you have written. So get somebody else to read it over and get that opinion." Some students might be worried that their marks in high school weren't good enough for them to qualify for scholarships, but that just isn't the case.

"We are aware that sometimes the home situation is such that they haven't the energy or the ability to get high grades," Bridges said.

"Our program is not based on just high scholastic achievements in high school. We take a balance of the need versus the marks that they received."

This year about 110 scholarships and bursaries will be given out through the FAAY program to Aboriginal students-status, non-status, Metis and Inuit-of all ages and from all parts of the country. In addition to scholarships to help students in their post-secondary studies, the program offer bursaries to high school students to encourage them to stay in high school.

Although the program is called the Foundation for the Advancement of Aboriginal Youth, when it comes to awarding scholarships, FAAY utilizes a "very elastic definition of youth," Bridges said.

"We've sponsored, you know, single mothers who are in their forties who want to go back to better their lives through education. So it's a very large, encompassing program."

Applying for scholarships through FAAY simplifies the process for students, Bridges explained, because each student only has to complete one application to be considered for all the scholarships managed by FAAY.

Even those students who don't receive scholarships can still benefit from the program, as some of the companies involved in FAAY will offer summer employment or co-op employment to unsuccessful applicants.

The program is benefiting the corporations that have signed on to FAAY by helping them link to the Aboriginal community. It also gives them a clearer picture of the challenges that exist for Aboriginal people wanting to further their education and of how important it is that they get involved to help reduce those challenges, Bridges said.

"You know, outside of the Aboriginal communities, there's a mindset out there that if an Aboriginal person wants to go to school it'll automatically get paid for, and that's not the case."

For more information about FAAY or to download a scholarship application, visit the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Web site at www.ccab.com.

By Cheryl Petten

Windspeaker Staff Writer

TORONTO
COPYRIGHT 2005 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:2005 Aboriginal Scholarship Guide
Author:Petten, Cheryl
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:778
Previous Article:B.C. government attempts to abandon court fights.
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