Pharmacy student scholarships can provide substantial economic support and considerably reduce the amount of student loan debt pharmacists are left with. The information provided here is meant to help pharmacy students in pursuit of scholarships.
Authored By: Timothy P. Gauthier, Pharm.D., BCPS-AQ ID
[Last updated: 6 July 2016]
Tuition, housing and other costs associated with pharmacy school can add up quickly. In turn, it is common for pharmacy school graduates to be left with over $100K in debt, while some students even finish school with well over $200k in debt.
To assist in mitigating the financial burden new pharmacists are left with upon completing school, seeking out student pharmacist scholarships is an option.
As a pharmacy student I applied to a few scholarships early on, but did not get them and just gave up on the whole scholarship thing. Years later as a pharmacy school faculty member, I ended up working on and even chairing a scholarship committee. During this time I learned many things I wish I had known as a student in pharmacy school.
In an effort to assist current and future college students in identifying how they can take advantage of student scholarship opportunities, the following five things are identified. These are things I wish I had known to do or wish I had been encouraged to do as a student pharmacist.
1. Check the college of pharmacy website initially and periodically
Many schools of pharmacy identify scholarship opportunities and previous scholarship recipients on their website. Rather than waiting for an email announcing that scholarships are open for application, get ahead of the game by making yourself aware of the opportunities to expect.
Speaking to some of the previous scholarship award winners can also be helpful.
2. Look for scholarships outside of the college of pharmacy
Pharmacy students can qualify for scholarships offered by the university (as apposed to just the college) or scholarships offered by various organizations. Be sure to check the scholarship website for the university in addition to your college’s website.
Speaking to employees of local pharmacies and members of pharmacy organizations may also prove fruitful. Especially if you are highly engaged in a particular company or organization, you may find yourself a strong candidate for their scholarship opportunities.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), Walgreens, CVS, Publix and various state pharmacy associations are among non-college entities that offer scholarships for pharmacy students. Many opportunities can be found with a search on Google.
3. Try to get to know scholarship committee members
Amongst a stack of scholarship applications it can be a major challenge for scholarship committee members to identify the “best” candidate for a given scholarship. When one or more committee members are familiar with an applicant it makes a world of difference. Given that the factors available for assessment are frequently subjective, when a committee member can speak to an applicants qualifications beyond what is on paper, it can make a big difference.
Students should not brown-nose or overly bother scholarship committee members, but it is certainly reasonable to make them aware you are searching for scholarship opportunities and are looking for their help in navigating the process.
4. Be sure to make your story known
All too frequently students apply to scholarships but fail to tell their whole story. Scholarship applications are a place where you should identify your past, current and future struggles. As you do this, be sure to identify how your story matches the criteria for whichever scholarship you are pursuing.
Students that fill out a form and do not put thought or creativity into their scholarship application are selling themselves short.
5. Do not stop applying for scholarships
Did you apply to a scholarship as a first-year student and get rejected? Sure that is not ideal, but don’t give up!!!
The scholarship process is very similar each year and once you have done it, updating your application and re-submitting the next cycle can be pretty easy.
Whether you are at the beginning or the end of your time in school, if you have or anticipate financial challenges, you should continue to pursue scholarships for pharmacy school.
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