Academic achievement not the only requirement for scholarships

New website to support students in their career goals

Ryan Janz

For many students, the trade-off between getting good grades and working to pay for school is a choice they wish they didn’t have to make.

“If I had the means to maintain my current lifestyle and academic achievements while working less and attending school full-time, I would jump at the chance,” said part-time University of Winnipeg politics student Matt Tetreault.

Thanks to Academic Invest, a new education grant website started by Winnipeg native Tim Hordo, students like Tetreault have more options in balancing this trade-off.

The site selects recipients based not on academic performance, but on a student’s character and life goals.

“The grants are for those students who are working a lot, have family or community commitments, or are thinly stretched in terms of time,” Hordo said. “It’s important for us to see a student’s life goals, if they are devoting their time outside of school and if they have a career path in mind.”

The first grant of $1,000 was handed out in August 2010 to Nabeel Premji, a University of Alberta engineering student.

“It will give me peace of mind and help me focus more on my studies because I won’t have to worry about fees,” Premji said. “I’m glad there are people like Tim willing to help students who have the motivation to go to school and do well, but who can’t perform as well as they’d like because of other issues.”

Academic Invest tries to help students gain work experience in their field by listing internships and co-op placements.

The site also aims to pair students with private investors in the concept of peer lending. Investors can browse through student profiles based on area of study or province. For the time being, Hordo is leaving it up to the private investor to contact the individual student.

While Academic Invest is new to the scene, they are not the only funding body supporting students on other criteria besides academic performance. Eighty-three per cent of the awards in the database at do not require an academic average, noted Chris Wilkins, founder and CEO of Edge Interactive and Scholarships Canada.

He added that 10 per cent require some sort of community or school services and 26 per cent are for students in financial need.

“Don’t count yourself out of the scholarship game, because there may be one out there for you,” Wilkins said.

The U of W also seeks to assist as many students as possible based on many different criteria.

The school allocates almost $1.9 million in student financial aid per year, according to the U of W office of the vice-president academic. A third of this goes to bursaries to help students in financial need.

Published in Volume 65, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 30, 2010)

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