Sometimes, the best story you have to tell a scholarship committee will involve explaining some of the worst or most embarrassing moments from your past. Maybe you hurt or insulted someone close to you. Maybe you had an addiction or even went to jail (actually, If you’re still hurting your loved ones, addicted to drugs or making frequent trips to jail, then you may want to choose a different topic).
Why? Well, some of the experiences that give the clearest insight into a person’s constitution are those times in which he was beaten down like a dog in some way and forced to drag himself up off the ground and get back in the game (Yes, that was three tired, trite expressions in one sentence. Don’t emulate that poor writing in your scholarship essays, ok?). I’m not just blowing smoke at you here. Sometimes, the things that Oprah repeats over and over again are actually true — it really isn’t how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up. I plan to teach my own children that the most critical factor in their success in the world is their ability and willingness to rebound and recover from life’s pits.
But if you’ve become a better person and conquered these kinds of obstacles, then that’s the sort of human progress that scholarship committees like to recognize and encourage further with monetary awards. And admitting your shortcomings also shows humility, which is another favorite trait among winners, in our experience. So if you’ve got to dip into your dark side to show how your bright side emerged, don’t be afraid to do so.
(Note: This depends, really, on how dark your dark side really is. If your dark past includes any serious violent or sexual crimes, then it’s probably best to talk about something else.)