Our MLIS students have been very successful in scholarship and award competitions over the years. Here are some helpful hints from one such student, Ann Marie Melvie (MLIS '01)
1. Do you have any tips on locating scholarship information?
Yes. When looking for scholarships for which to apply, you should ask yourself a few questions:
1) Do you have any connections to organizations that might give out awards?
2) Are you a member of a certain library association?
3) Have you served on any committees of an organization that might give out scholarships or awards?
Also, think about your interests. Does any organization in which you have an interest sponsor scholarships or awards?
Think about the place or places where you have lived. Does that particular area have a library association or organization that might offer scholarships?
This may take some digging on your part. Take a look at the Web sites of various library organizations to see if they have any scholarships available for which you can apply. Also, be sure to check the annual SLIS Press Release of scholarships and awards for some ideas.
2. How long will the application process take?
This depends on the scholarships, and what they require from their applicants. Some take a fair amount of time to prepare, and others don't take long at all. For example, one might only take a few hours to prepare, while another requiring more information might take a couple of days to complete. But remember that the applications that take longer to prepare are usually worth more. Also keep in mind that it is important to start the process well before the deadline, as transcripts and reference letters may be required. And make sure to give organizations and individuals providing this information lots of advance notice.
3. What sorts of things are involved in the application process?
You will need to fill out an application. You may also be required to answer a few written questions, make a statement of some sort, or you might be asked to write an essay. What you are required to do really depends on the scholarship for which you are applying. Many scholarships and awards require a letter of reference from one or more people. It is wise to ask one of your professors from the School of Library and Information Studies to serve as a reference, but remember to give them lots of notice.
4. Is it appropriate to ask a professor to be a reference, when I have only known them for a short period of time?
Yes. Feel free to ask one of your professors at SLIS. They will be happy to help you in this regard. Early in the year, it is always a good to ask one who has seen some of your work, and/or your program supervisor. Remember while they have access to your student file for information to include in your reference letter, you can help by providing specific points that you would like them to mention. Later on of course, you are free to ask any of your professors. Professors are quite accustomed to students asking for references, so feel free to ask.
5. If I win a scholarship, will I have any obligations?
Sometimes. For example, you may be asked to enroll in a certain course, or write a report on your experiences. Again, this really depends on the scholarship. Each one is different.
6. Do I need to have the highest grades in the class in order to win a scholarship or award?
Unless specified in the application, grades are not an important factor. For the most part, organizations want to provide scholarships to people who are genuinely interested in the profession, and to whom the money will be especially helpful.
7. What if I don't think that I have a chance? Should I apply anyway?
By all means! You may think that your chances are slim, but you never know. Even if you don't think that you have a chance - apply anyway. There is so much money available out there that isn't tapped into because sometimes people just don't apply. It is expensive to go to school - and these scholarships can really alleviate the financial pressure of the whole process. So apply!
8. Where can I get information regarding scholarships?
The School offers several scholarships for which all applicants to the MLIS program are automatically considered. In addition, students should also check the Web sites of sponsoring associations and agencies for detailed information about these and other scholarship opportunities. In particular, see those of the Library Association of Alberta, the Manitoba Library Association, the Canadian Library Association, the American Library Association, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association. The annual handbook Financial Assistance for Library and Information Studies published by ALA, and the listing of Graduate Awards in the University of Alberta's Calendar are also valuable sources of information.
The School keeps many application forms on file for the convenience of our students and will be glad to obtain others upon request. For further details, or to receive advice and assistance with scholarship applications, please contact the School.
9. Do you have any other tips for me?
1. Remember that many scholarships exist for students with a range of interests and backgrounds who are putting themselves through school.
2. You should be able to express why you want to be a librarian or information professional - because most ask for a statement of this kind.
3. Be honest in your application about who you are and what you want to contribute to the profession.
4. Go to faculty members for general advice - on whether you should apply, for reference letters and so on. They are more than willing to help.
5. Check out the Web sites of library organizations in which you have an interest. They usually have a section on scholarships, grants, and awards.
6. Take the initiative - the School will try and make you aware of scholarships for which you may want to apply, but you should also take the initiative to inform yourself about scholarships that are available, and then apply for them.
7. Talk to students who have won scholarships or awards in the past - they may have other suggestions to help you.