Almost all culinary schools award scholarships to truly promising students, so remember to ask for information about each school’s requirements. In addition, many organizations associated with the culinary field award scholarships. You will want to begin addressing the scholarship application process even before you send in your admission application because the scholarship process can take longer than the admission process.
How Scholarships Are Awarded
Each organization that provides scholarship aid has its own criteria for making awards, its own application process, and its own time frame. Many of these organizations evaluate applications only once a year. Some do it two or three times a year. Some organizations offer scholarships only for specialized kinds of study or to students with specific talents and characteristics. Others administer a broad range of scholarships. Scholarships awarded by organizations (other than schools) are of two kinds:
Awards for specific schools.
These awards are usually for tuition credit, although occasionally some aid is given for room and board, books, uniforms, or tools.
Awards of a specific cash value that can be used at a variety of institutions.
Awards like these are usually designated by the donors to be applied only against tuition. They cannot be used to help pay for room and board, books, tools, uniforms, or getting to and from school. Cash-value awards generally are paid by the awarding organization directly to the chosen institution. Rarely, if ever, is money paid directly to a student to use as he or she wishes.
Since decisions about scholarship aid are based on the promise of achievement in the culinary field and not just financial need, it’s a good idea to think through what kind of impression you want to make on the person or committee who will be evaluating your application.
Fill out the application neatly; neatness makes a good impression. Remember, you will be asked to perform your culinary work neatly. A neatly prepared application gives an indication that you can do that.
Check your spelling carefully. If you are unsure of how to spell a word, look it up in a dictionary. Spelling errors detract from the message you are trying to communicate.
Fill in all the information and submit all materials requested. You could be disqualified for not following directions.
Be sure that all materials requested to be sent separately are sent separately. Frequently, letters of recommendation are requested separately to give some privacy to the referees and to ensure that they actually are the authors of the letters.
List all work experience in the culinary field. Culinary work often demands long hours and considerable physical and mental effort. The fact that you have worked in the culinary field and understand the demands of your chosen career is important to judges. If you have done volunteer work in the culinary field, be sure to list that as well.
Throughout the evaluation process, be prepared to explain your goals in life and your plans for the next few years. Lofty ambitions may be lauded but unrealistic plans are not.
If you are asked to write an essay, write it yourself. This should be obvious; it’s cheating if someone else writes your essay. A reviewer who suspects that you have not written your own essay may disqualify your entire application. Don’t try to impress reviewers with flowery language or French culinary terms unless you actually have worked in a French kitchen and need to describe a station or task in French because of it. Don’t list impossible or outrageous goals. If you are 18, it’s unlikely that in five years you will be the executive chef in a prominent hotel or own your own restaurant. Remember that the readers of your application are food professionals who are well aware of how long it takes to achieve a position in the field and how much it costs to start a restaurant. If you are having difficulty setting time frames, get advice from a teacher or mentor.
When you write an essay, be original. If you have had unique experiences that have influenced you to become involved in the culinary profession, by all means include them, but don’t say that ever since you were a little child you have wanted to go into the culinary field. It may be true, but it’s trite. Tell the reader what is unique and special about you, why you deserve the scholarship, and what it will enable you to do with your life.