News and Events

Scholarships give students a hand

"On Campus" by Dr. Ralph Weeks

April 11, 2012

 

As seen in the Medicine Hat News

One of Canada’s national newspapers recently ran a story under a headline that says most parents don’t know the full cost of a university education.
 
That headline caught my eye, of course, and I was interested to see that the story was based upon a recent report published by BMO’s Wealth Institute. The gist of that report is that families may not be taking advantage of all the methods available to address the costs of education.
 
The report notes families recognize the benefits of education – rewarding careers and enhanced earning potential – as well as the fact that the costs have been on the rise across Canada. Of particular benefit to younger families, the report also offers a number of financial strategies that will help address the cost of post-secondary education.
 
And, I know from our own research that perceptions about that cost can actually make people think twice about going to college or university. Our surveys have shown that people tend to think that the cost of college is much higher than reality, and, incidentally, that academic admission standards are daunting.
 
From that point of view, I always encourage people to take a few minutes, sit down with one of our academic advisors, and learn the facts of costs and admission requirements.  The promise offered by a college education may be more accessible than you think.
 
In this regard I happily echo the advice offered in that BMO report on student tuition and debt; learning about the costs and funding options makes  good sense for families and individual students.
 
However, I can’t help but carry that advice a step further because there is a least one other urban legend to address, the concept that scholarships and other financial awards are available to only an exclusive few.
 
On your campus, that assumption is so strong that we have to work hard to encourage students to apply for financial awards. Believe it or not, sometimes the only thing that stands between a student and financial help is the quite painless completion of an electronic application. I suspect this phenomenon exists because some students think they’re not quite good enough to deserve a scholarship.
 
This is a second odd twist to this story because it appears that sometimes, strangers have more confidence in an unknown student than the student has in themselves. I’m talking about donors, the people and organizations who give of their own resources to help students achieve their potential.
 
Year after year, at our scholarship luncheons, I have heard students tell a similar story. How deeply they were touched by the generosity of a donor. Oh, students acknowledge how much the money means to them, but more importantly, many talk about the more fundamental impact of the gift, knowledge that someone else cares about their future.     
 
Yes, there are costs attached to the benefit of a college education, but your college often has ways to help. If you happen to be one of the thousands thinking seriously about your future, take a few minutes to apply for awards. You might be surprised to discover that others are ready to give you a hand.
 
Please visit our website at www.mhc.ab.ca and find out how easy it is to apply for scholarships. The online scholarship application is open until May 1.