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Are you scholarship-ready?


Saturday, September 17, 2016

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Aaaahhh the excitement and hope of a new school year! What better time to forward plan, consider your goals and profile, and take the steps to ensure that you make this school year count? So ... are you scholarship-ready? Here are some questions you should ask yourself and steps you can take to get there.

FIRST, am I taking

Just yesterday I spoke with a friend of mine who works in admissions at a leading US university. I told him about a student of mine with 5 1’s at CAPE Unit 1 and 9 1’s at CSEC. The first question he asked was, "In what subjects?" He reminded me that if the student had not taken the "traditional core subjects" then admission was unlikely, even with all 1’s and a straight A profile! I can’t emphasise this enough; to be most competitive students must take all three science subjects, English A and B, maths AND add maths, a social science and a foreign language up to CSEC level. This course selection will make a student scholarship ready at competitive US universities, no matter what his/her intended career or major. Beyond CSEC, students are advised to continue with as many core subjects as possible, checking the prerequisites for the major/area they are potentially interested in studying. I recommend add maths these days, because the SAT maths section demands some knowledge of higher-level maths.

SECOND, am I looking

There are so many opportunities out there that it can be overwhelming, even for someone whose full-time job it is to uncover them all. One good place to start is at embassies. From Brazil to Japan, to Chile, to China and Portugal; from the Chevening to the Fulbright, the governments of various countries offer scholarships for undergraduate and graduate school study, so do your research. There are no excuses! I am always so heartened to see students with little or no resources put in the work, use their initiative and receive opportunities that change the entire trajectory of their lives. Another place to look is at the institutions at which you are interested in studying. For undergraduate study especially, the majority of financial aid and merit scholarship opportunities are institutionally based. Be sure to check the citizenship or residency status requirements and other criteria to ensure that you are a good fit (or can take the steps to become a good fit, for example in terms of leadership).

See part two in two weeks.

Nicole McLaren Campbell is the founder and CEO of Aim Educational Services, an independent college admissions counsellor, and public speaker. Contact her at

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