Remember to look for scholarships

Money is always at the forefront of students’ minds, and whilst taking a part-time job is a must for many to make ends meet, another option all students should investigate before they start university is scholarships.

Higher education in countries like the UK and US is more expensive than ever, and whilst student loans are readily available, that just means saddling students with tens of thousands in debt before they ever start on a career. Luckily, a number of charitable organisations and private companies understand the value of a well-educated workforce and offer scholarships to help with the financial burden.

Some scholarships are only available for those following specific in-demand career paths and studying STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, but there are also a number available to all students. Importantly, many people don’t even know scholarships are available for university degrees, and so don’t even apply – you can only benefit from these programmes by putting the work in, finding relevant scholarships for which you fulfil the criteria, and filling out the right forms.

Some scholarship applications can take a fair amount of time, so it is a good idea to set aside a few hours every month in your final years of school to research the best scholarships for your needs and to get started on the applications. Many applications require students to send in essays of a thousand or more words and getting your essay to hit the right notes will take some practice. Asking for help from parents or teachers with editing your work could be invaluable.

The cost of text books is one of the most commonly complained about subjects at university, with some publishers updating their books every year for what appears to be the single goal of forcing students to buy new books rather than second hand. College text-books can cost hundreds of pounds each year, and while some students will turn to websites like LibGen to get around the costs, there is a scholarship in the UK designed to address this specific need. The Money for Books programme offers students a £250 voucher for their textbooks for the year – a significant help to anyone studying!

For UK students, many universities offer their own scholarships to disadvantaged children and if you are looking to spend a year abroad as part of your studies under the Erasmus scheme, then the British Council offers scholarships to help ease the financial struggles of living in a new country for the first time. However, do note that thanks to Brexit, both Erasmus and the relevant scholarships may soon be a thing of the past 🙁

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