Get money for studying

Grant workshop to help students focus on education

Illustration by Gabrielle Funk

Oluwayemisi Olugboji is researching how to make hospitals more efficient. He’s constantly running hospital scenarios through a program and trying to figure out how hospital systems can save even more lives than they already do.

That research takes up a lot of his time. He doesn’t want to work and take hours away from his research, so he constantly applies for grants and scholarships, hoping to support himself. He wishes more people knew about the money available to students.

“In most cases, the money is just sitting there. You just need to go for it,” Olugboji says.

Olugboji attributes many of his successful applications to the grant-writing workshop he took in February of 2016. The next workshop is on Jan. 20, 2017. He highly encourages students to take part in it.

Dr. Catherine Taylor, a professor of education for rhetoric and communications, is one of the two people hosting the workshop. She says that in order to obtain a grant, it’s not enough to just be passionate about a certain field or subject. A student needs to sell themselves.

“What (grant committees) really want to see in your application is evidence that you’re going to be a terrific researcher,” Taylor says. “That you’re a good investment.”

“You’re not just going to do an MA because you’re interested in Shakespeare … you’re contributing to our knowledge of Shakespeare in a meaningful way,” Taylor says.

Taylor says students need to write like researchers and avoid any apologies for “just being a student.” They need to put forward a proposal that’s straightforward, free of errors and has solid references from professors who can verify that a student will do good things with the money. 

Olugboji says the money allows him to focus on his studies instead of worrying about where and when he’ll have to work.

“The time it would take to apply for a job, to review your resume and cover letter, it takes about the same time to apply for a grant,” Olugboji says. “It lets you focus on your research and your studies.” 

Taylor says obtaining a grant is harder now than it used to be. She says the success rate is down around 15 to 18 per cent in certain fields, sometimes going up to 20 per cent, depending on the severity of the grant. Bigger fellowship applications have around a 25 per cent rate of success. Taylor says it’s still worth trying for these grants, because it will follow you for the rest of your career and positively affect future job applications.

Published in Volume 71, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 5, 2017)

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