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How to use ScholarshipsCanada and SchoolFinder to plan your post-secondary journey post gap year


Imagine if there was a website that would match you to the perfect post-secondary institution, program, scholarships and career path that is just right for you! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?


Well, you’re in luck because in today’s episode we invited the amazing Logan Bright from SchoolFinder and Scholarships Canada who walks us through how students can utilise these phenomenal resources to take the stress off of post-secondary research and help them effectively find the most relevant information.


And, to all the gappers tuning in, Logan actually took a gap year himself! He spent his time dedicated to gaining work experience, personal growth and even filming and starring in his own movie!


Tune in, you don’t want to miss out on this one!

Topics Discussed

  • Meet Logan Bright from SchoolFinder and ScholarshipCanada and learn about how you can be matched with your perfect post-secondary school, programs, scholarships and career path.

  • The amazing features of SchoolFinder and how it will help you explore post-secondary options you were not aware of before.

  • Learn about Logan’s transformative gap year and how that impacted the trajectory of his career.

  • Understanding that career paths are not linear (and that is okay!) and how to best embrace that change.

  • How to leverage your gap year to craft the most compelling scholarships apps and successfully fund your post-secondary education.


Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Transcript

Michelle Dittmer - 00:00

Hey there and welcome to the Gap Year podcast! My name's Michelle Dittmer and I am your host and gap year expert.


On today's episode we have the Incredible Logan who is coming to join us from the School Finder Group and he has such a great personal story but also the resources that he's going to share with us today are invaluable for young people who are in that point of transition from high school into post secondary.


And this is just going to be a wealth of knowledge so I'm so glad you're here, welcome to the podcast!


Logan Bright - 00:34

Hello Michelle! Thank you so much for inviting me, really glad to be here on the show.


Michelle Dittmer - 00:39

Amazing! Alright, so a little birdy told me that Once Upon a time, you yourself might have perhaps taken a gap year. So we're just going to hold on to that little nugget of information.

But let's, let's jump into who are you? What are you up to these days? Give us just a little bit of background on who you are.


Logan Bright - 00:34

Sure thing. Yeah, so my name is Logan Bright.


I am the managing editor for the School Finder Group, which is a bit of a mouthful, but really my main purview is School Finder and scholarships Canada, a couple of websites for students who are looking to find schools, or more importantly maybe funding for schools, so scholarships, bursaries, etcetera.


I am the string puller behind all of those things on the website.


Michelle Dittmer - 01:28

Amazing, so when you say managing editor, for those who are aspiring to get into communications or writing or things like that, what does a managing editor do?


Logan Bright - 01:37

Yeah, sure. So I've grown sort of into this position. I started as just an editor and I've grown in my responsibilities. It started out with writing and editing content, so short form articles aimed at students.


As my role has grown, my responsibilities have grown. I am now overseeing several freelancers as well as in-house content people who write stuff for us and managing different elements of our social media as well, trying to develop content strategy for the coming months so that there's always good stuff to read on the websites.


Michelle Dittmer - 02:12

So you are never without anything to do?


Logan Bright - 02:14

Definitely not, always writing, reading, rewriting, a mix of those three.


Michelle Dittmer - 02:20

That's amazing! I know there's so many people out there that are looking to get into this space and so it's great to hear from a real live person who's doing this for their day-to-day job and getting a little background of what it's really like.


So Congrats on the promotion, congrats on growing your career!


But let's rewind, rewind into your past a little bit. So let's talk about that gap year experience. What did you do in that gap time and kind of how that influenced the way that your career and your life has gone since then?


Logan Bright - 02:53

Yeah had a major effect on my overall trajectory which is a little less traditional maybe than some, but yes, I did do a gap year right out of high school. I was born right at the end of the year, so I'm a little bit younger going into college/university at 17.


I thought, no, I've got some stuff I wanna do still and really what that was creating a film with some friends. We spent a lot of time writing and shooting and editing a film. It ended up being 45 minutes or so for our own entertainment, mostly because we were all into that kind of thing, really interested in a AV.


So that was sort of part time job and then the other half of my free time was working part time job that I was getting funded for. So local grocery stores kind of thing, picking up extra hours.


So I was earning some money and really pursuing my passion with my friends, shooting and starring in this film.


Michelle Dittmer - 03:57

And so I could interrupt you there for a second because don't downplay it, that is an incredible experience that allows you to develop really cool skills from looking at it from an employability standpoint, like project management, able to coordinate and sequence everything.


So it makes sense figuring out how you're going to work as a team, how you're going to source your actors, putting in your communications and your language stuff with the writing.

Those are all transferable skills and a lot of people on their gap year have these interest projects that they want to work on, but they think it's not valuable or it's silly and even in the way that you kind of framed it there, you're gonna like oh “I kind of did this thing” but that's a 45 minutes. Do you know how much work goes into that?


Like how many pages of script is that? Like 100 more than that.


Logan Bright - 04:52

Like, yeah, it's a minute per. Not to get too into it, but you've teemed me up beautifully for the next sort of part of the narrative.


So thank you for that.


Once the film was done and I was ready for post secondary. They went to film school, left home, you know, went to Niagara College in Welland, which was renowned for its film and broadcasting program and there I put a lot of those transferable skills to work.


Performed quite well in school, produced a lot of different types of films, documentary, music, video, short fiction and so on. Won several awards for my work there as well, of which my parents are very proud.


And so, yeah, I did a few years and advanced Technical Diploma and Niagara College in film and then after that went on to shoot overseas a little bit and work in the film industry for about five years or so here in Toronto.


So I, you know, began my career working in film. I was an editor for several years before I became another type of editor.


Michelle Dittmer - 05:54

That's amazing! I think that's so great, and the way that you, you took that experience, that hands-on experience, that interest and parlayed that into education and then into a career and allowing yourself to really explore what interests you and recognizing that you had some skills and gifts and talents that allowed you to excel in that and then when the time was right, time to pivot and do something a little bit different because there's no such thing anymore as a very linear life or a linear career, it's all about those twists and turns, keeping it exciting, keeping it interesting and sometimes it's our choice, sometimes it's the industry's choice, sometimes there's a global pandemic. You know, things happen and we get to pivot and shift and change and I think that those are valuable things and knowing that you have the ability and the strength and the capacity to navigate that.


I think that comes a lot from that uncertainty of having a gap year and doing something a little bit different than a lot of your peers?


Logan Bright - 06:59

Yes, so again, you've teemed me up beautifully. So thank you for that, Michelle!


The final sort of twists and turns, worked as an editor for a few years. Then I went overseas to volunteer for about six months and I was volunteer teaching in a small village.


And I knew I wanted to make my living with words, I wanted to read and write for a living.

So come back to Canada and I attended UofT. I did really well there in their English writing and rhetoric program and once I graduated from UofT, that's when I started working as a word editor and bringing us to today.


So that's the sort of full scope of my journey, ups and downs, ins and outs and I couldn't be happier about where I've landed and the different experience that I've had leading up to it. Gap year, travel overseas, couple different career trajectories, it's all sort of coherent in an interesting way and made for a great last 10 years at least.


Michelle Dittmer - 07:51

Yeah and I and I love that it's, it's not linear and it's not boring and all of those things some people can look at and see as setbacks or you had to change career, “poor you:.

But that's not it at all, this is being in the driver's seat of your life and making those decisions and choosing which lane to be driving in and I find that so inspiring.


And I think and I hope young people are listening and hearing that there are twists and turns and everything stacks one upon the other to lead you to the next fulfilling experience that you're going to have in your life and you've really navigated all of that with a lot of grace and ease and I'm sure it sounds more graceful and easy looking backwards than it does looking forwards.


But it's nice to know that you are a fully functioning adult, you've got a job and you are successful. Even if it wasn't in that stereotypical linear fashion.


Logan Bright - 08:51

Yeah definitely true and again, I wouldn't trade it. So thrilled about where I am right now, and hopefully you folks listening can hear the joy in my voice. It's been a twisty, a twisty ride, but it's been great.


Michelle Dittmer - 09:05

I love that story. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Yeah, I know it's a little bit kind of off topic here, but it very much lends itself to what we're all about here at the Canadian Gap Year Association.


But let's turn the spotlight from gap years onto School Finder, and I'm curious for you, you went on this journey, you've seen so many things, and then you ended up here at School Finder.


So in your opinion, what makes School Finder such an invaluable resource for students or for young people who are on that journey kind of through post secondary?


Logan Bright - 09:39

Sure, so I'll freely admit I didn't know about School Finder when I was researching the couple of different schools that I went to, kind of wish that I had done. But alas, the biggest sort of thrill for me, the most compelling part, was very early in my tenure, my boss told me, Logan, you work for the student, right?


You don't work for me. You don't work for advertisers or clients. You work for the student. And that has been my mandate ever since, trying to come up with material that is going to interest students, our readers, our audience, right.


Trying to answer the questions that they have that can be tricky to find the answers to. Maybe they're in Google, but they're buried on the third search results page, right? So nobody can find that.


Well, we have the mandate to do that digging, do that research and provide the answers that students need, maybe even questions you don't know you have.


So the mandate of explicitly being here to help students first and foremost that is my main objective, that has been really compelling and it's helped to kind of keep me honest too in my approach to what do students need to read right now? What do they need to know?


Michelle Dittmer - 10:52

I love that and I think what you were saying about how some information can be buried, I think the Internet is a wonderful thing, we get access to all this information, but it is not curated for us.


Like, I can't jump on Google and say “best school for Michelle to go to for writing” and Google will just automatically do all the work for me and spit out an answer like that's what we that's what we hope when we think about Google.


But really the information is a little bit everywhere, there's so much, It can be very overwhelming.


And sometimes when we're making our first attempt into post secondary or our second or third, we don't know what questions to be asking because we've never done it before or we've never done it this way or we've never done it in a pandemic, or we've never done it with XYZ qualifications and so to be able to have a resource that exists that helps with that, that gives us that space without going into that, that Google Spiral where we end up seeing so many things that are irrelevant and then just shutting down.


So School Finder is a great place that curates a lot of that for us and gives us what we need rather than all of the junk that's out there on the Internet.


Logan Bright - 12:16

Yeah, I appreciate the framing as curation, because that's exactly it, right? The material is out there. We have a team of freelancers who work very hard and pretty much around the clock, it seems to be pulling that information together so that it's in a sort of a neutral source and is able to be compared like for like, right. It may not be perfect Gala Apple to Gala Apple, but at least it's a Fuji and a gala, right? There's no oranges in there.


So we do our best to pull that information together, make it easy to compare and yeah, maybe it's not as easy as “best school for me”, but you'll have that Intel to piece that puzzle together for yourself.


Michelle Dittmer - 10:51

I love that. So what can students find on the website? So if they were to go there, what were some things that maybe they could be looking for when they come across the site?


Logan Bright - 13:00

Sure, so the profiles are sort of the big selling point, I guess any school you can think of generally college, university, postgrad level, some high school as well, but mostly post secondary schools. They'll each have a profile and it's almost like a dating app if you think of it that way, right? Here's a little bit about me, maybe I'm the right fit for you if you type of material right.


Lots of students, few students types of programs, available scholarships to support those programs on campus living, how much per bed? What are the fees for the bus pass, et cetera, et cetera.


The type of questions that you probably don't even have until you see that info, it's all there.

But really the magic of the site is setting up your own profile. You can get matched to something that fits you. So if you do, say you're interested in writing, maybe you live in BC and you're looking for somewhere on the lower Mainland, you can sort of key that stuff in and the system will throw out a few suggestions for you.


So you know whatever school meets that criteria, it'll pop up for you and you can then compare them directly and so on. I think that's the main sort of draw.


There are career profiles as well, there's a ton of articles. If you've got questions like how to apply to law school or you know what are my OSAP payments due, like that kind of stuff is covered as well.


But I think the main draw for students is the profile, the programs and getting matched to either of those.


Michelle Dittmer - 14:32

Yeah, I think that's brilliant! I think sometimes we don't know all of the options that are before us, and sifting through that can take hours or days or just so overwhelming that we just say no altogether and just apply to whatever university that our college is closest to us is and just go from there.


So using these tools, you can really make a better decision, make a more informed decision and that's what we find with our gap students is that they have a little bit more time and space, they can make better choices. They know themselves a little bit better so that when they are saying what they're interested in they can be a little bit more accurate in that and so school Finder can then spit out the accurate counter or compliment, I guess I should say what they're interested in and knowing whether you want to be at a big school or a small school, all that stuff kind of bubbles up as you do a little bit of self exploration.


So being able to give the right information in will get the right information out and you can find the right programs in schools for you. So it's a gap years, and School Finder is a marriage made in heaven.


Logan Bright - 15:42

Totally, totally true and you've stoked my mind here for something else. I wanted to mention too, which is that the gap year experience can be a really big help when you're applying for scholarships. So scholarships are the other big part of what we do, trying to pair students with ways to fund education.


And I talk a lot about scholarships with students and the main thing I always try to hammer home is that admins are looking for volunteer experience, leadership experience, personal growth type of stories.


So the type of things that you can get up to during a gap year is exactly what schools and scholarship admins want to see on your CV.


So if you've taught overseas like I had done or maybe you've volunteered at the local old folks home because you've got some extra time during your gap year, like that's gonna look great on your scholarship applications, your school applications later on down the road, so many times we've reviewed scholarship apps and the volunteer experiences low or the work experience is very low and we'll look for somebody with a little bit more.


So you've got that opportunity to build some of that credibility while you've got the chance.


Michelle Dittmer - 16:48

Yeah, I think people don't realize that, that all of the things that they are getting up to on their gap, you're not only are good for them personally and their personal development, but it can actually lend itself to earning more money in scholarships because you do have a whole years worth of experiences and activities that your peers who just went straight into to college or university probably are missing out on and I think you have more time to fill out those applications.


You can be more thoughtful. You're not trying to do it while also studying for your biology exam. You can, you could be thoughtful about it, you can do more time, spend more time researching which ones you may be eligible for, and so it can be almost your part time job on your gap year is researching and filling out those applications and we did some great other podcast episodes on scholarship specifically and how to leverage your gap year for that.

So I'll put a link in the show notes to that episode as well, so you can really, really dive in. If financial aid is something you're looking to explore more, listen to that podcast episode as well.


Logan Bright - 17:54

Perfection, I'm glad to hear that! One of the big, big questions we get is what is financial need? And pretty much everybody's in financial need if you need a little bit of money to help pay for school, yeah, probably.


Michelle Dittmer - 18:06

Yeah, if you don't, if you're not just sitting on a pile of cash and using it as a blanket to go to bed. You need money to pay for postsecondary for sure.


Amazing. So if folks wanted to access the resources that you have where can they find you?


Logan Bright - 18:24

Sure, so best bet is hitting either schoolfinder.com or scholarshipscanada.com. They are sort of sister sites so connected in a way. One is more for schools and programs the other more for scholarships. You'll find your way around.


We're all over social media as well if you just search scholarships Canada, you should find us!


Michelle Dittmer - 18:43

Amazing and we will link to all of those in the show notes. So if you missed it, just click on the links below. We will get you there in no time.


Alright. So my brain is swimming with things that I need to go check out on those websites. So I think it's time we wrap up this amazing conversation so that everybody can jump on to those sites and get access to all the amazing content that you have curated specifically for them.


So Logan, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today.


Logan Bright - 19:12

Yeah, my pleasure, Michelle, really thank you again for inviting me. Really happy to be here and glad to speak to your audience!


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