Don’t be a complete downer.

I debated including this one because, to be honest, a lot of people have had a lot of rotten things happen to them in their lives. More bad than good, unfortunately. And sometimes those things are worth explaining to the scholarship committee if it means you can show them how you’ve overcome these obstacles on your way to success.

That last part is very important — the part where you’re overcoming these obstacles on the way to success. Very often, though, we get pages and pages of depressing anecdote after depressing anecdote, and then when it gets to the part where the writer is supposed to overcome the obstacles — the essay ends. Hey, life isn’t always rosy – we understand that. But it’s a mistake to make your essay a comprehensive study in your personal misery. Here’s why:

If you want to win, the committee needs to feel good about handing you money. We want to feel like we’re helping someone turn the corner, helping them get out of what was once a bad situation, helping take a person’s life from one level to a higher level. But if your essay is one long complaint about your life, the committee doesn’t have much reason to believe that one check will change that.

Money is great and we all need it to live, but it’s just a means to help you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. If you have no goals, no plan, no outlook for the future, that money will be gone in no time and your life won’t have changed a bit.

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