SAIT students are leaving less money on the table, when it comes to student awards.
So far this term, Alumni and Development has made it a priority to help students access the nearly $4 million student awards and hence, there has been an increase of 52 per cent in overall award applications over the same time period last year.
According to records, there were 1,338 applicants for awards cash up to the end of September this year, compared to 881 applicants as of Sept. 28, 2012.
“We worked on the signage and put it throughout the campus to encourage students to apply,” Courtney Garlough, student and new alumni coordinator at SAIT Polytechnic, explained in an interview.
“The numbers, $3.5 million in awards to 3,500 students, sticks in the mind and hence, we tried to lay stress on that.”
Knowledgeable staff are available to assist students with applications and questions in rooms MA 112 in Heritage Hall, and MC 209 in the Stan Grad Centre, before every deadline.
“The process is simple and can potentially be quite rewarding with a little guidance,” said Garlough.
“We have computers and staff on hand to answer all questions related to the application process.
“Many students don’t apply because their GPA is not good or they are not actively involved in the community.
“Students grab the awards guide, flip to their course and either see no awards for their program, or no awards for their semester of study and neglect to apply,” says Garlough.
But even if there are no awards for some specific programs, there are numerous “general awards” which any SAIT student is eligible for. An award is a great addition to any resume, and, of course, there is cash involved as well.
It’s not all about straight “A” students. Many mature students think that the awards are only for freshman graduating just out of high school.
There are many awards for apprenticeship students and many for SAIT athletes only.
Many students think that they will have to write an essay and the awards application will be six pages long. As a result, they decide that it’s not for them, but the essay has to be written in only few words.
Generally, the donors and student awards’ representatives talk together to decide the candidate.
When there is a tie between two students, academic chair or references are contacted. If they need to verify the grades, they talk to the academic chair.
Students also write a thank you letter to the donor and tell how the award has helped them to excel.
“We also organize a ceremony where donors meet the students. The students thank them, exchange business cards and it’s a great platform for networking,” says Garlough.
“If the donor is impressed, they may set up an interview with the students and hire them.”
Due to lack of applications in past years, awards have gone to certain candidates who met only a few of the criteria.
There are chances for a student to get multiple awards depending upon the number of applications.
The numbers $3.5 million awards to 3,500 students stick in the mind and hence, we tried to lay stress on that. – Courtney Garlough
Some awards are specifically for international students whereas some are only for single parents. Some are specifically for students suffering from attention deficit disorder whereas some are for students facing financial hardships.
Bursaries are normally awards based on financial need, and scholarships are decided based on academic achievement.
At SAIT, both of these criteria are listed for many of the awards and hence, the words scholarship, bursary and awards are all interchangeable. These are not taxable and no longer reported as income on a tax return.
When an award is created, the donor specifies the criteria and they give the criteria points a weighted value.
The donor can suggest that they would prefer the academic achievement to be a 70 per-cent deciding factor and financial need make up the other 30 per-cent. An applicant will be evaluated based on these percentages and the one who best fits the criteria will be the award recipient.
The donors are SAIT alumni, large and small businesses and many individuals who value the efforts of the students.