Should Having Diabetes Be Considered A Hardship On A Scholarship Essay?

by Judge Josh on September 2, 2014

Hi Judge Josh,

First off thank you for doing this site- it has been a great help.

You’re quite welcome, Teresa – but I couldn’t do it without people like you!

Okay I’m just going to tell you the problem. I’m a first/second year student(I did a semester away from home and things didn’t work so now I’m back at square “A” in Community College), and to my dismay I am unable to find scholarships, AND I NEED THEM. I am going for my elementary education teacher degree to teach kindergarten and first grade, and of course FAFSA claims that my parents make too much for me to recieve anything from them so I need scholarships and lots of them.


The thing is almost every single scholarship I find requires me to have dealt with a “hardship” or show how I’ve been a “leader” in something, or to explain how something has changed me in a significant way. Truth be told I have lived a very very very sheltered life. What I want to know is, is it okay for me to use my medical illness, which is type 1 diabetes, as my “hardship” and how I have been a “leader” or will that make it sound like I’m playing the “poor old me has diabetes :( I should get the sch olarship because my pancreas doesn’t work right” card? I know that diabetes has changed me but I’m a little scared that if I tell the judges they are going to think I’m playing the “pity me I have a medical condition” card. So should I use my diabetes or should I try and think of something else to use for the scholarships.

– Teresa

Look at it this way, Teresa, why is your hardship (I don’t have diabetes, but I know it’s enough of a hardship to realize that I don’t want diabetes) any less valid than anyone else’s hardship?

If you think about it, I’m sure that many of the other applicants will list their hardships as things like growing up poor, losing a parent, overcoming a learning disability, etc.  These are all hardships to be sure, and I wouldn’t wish any of them on anyone.  But they aren’t any “harder” than having a chronic, lifelong disease that requires you to stick yourself with a needle multiple times every single day, or you will die!  Color me a sissy, but I’m not sure how I would deal with that, to be honest.  I hate needles.

So don’t sell yourself short, Teresa.  Diabetes may be something you can rise above and live a (mostly) normal life with, but it’s no less relevant than any of the harships people list in their scholarship essays.

What say you, folks?  Am I just a pansy who hates needles and can’t imagine having to give myself daily shots, or does Teresa have a legit hardship to write about here?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole Clark September 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I think diabetes is completely legit. I was in marching band with a girl who had diabetes. Like, really bad needed to have an alert dog with her at all times kind of bad. The cool thing about her was that it didn’t stop her from going above and beyond as a musician and a leader. It’s not the hardship that’s important, it’s how you overcame it and how it made you a stronger person.

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Ferrish Thefish September 3, 2014 at 1:52 am

I would think that the primary thing you’re being judged on is how you dealt with the hardship. Your responses to the hardships you face say much more about you and your character than the hardships themselves.

In that sense, having a hardship is not relative. If living a “normal” life costs you more time and money than a non-diabetic doppelganger, then your diabetes is a hardship. I doubt any judge would attempt to argue otherwise.

I’d be much more interested in what judges think about mental illnesses–like ADD and bipolar–which are invariably dismissed as being the product of terrible parents and overzealous psychiatrists (unless you’re a celebrity).

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