Don’t beg.

A popular phrase around my house, and maybe yours too, was: “It never hurts to ask!” The phrase would be uttered concerning a great variety of things, but to keep it simple here, it was usually when I wanted something that someone else had and was too timid to inquire about whether I could have it (or borrow it, or touch it, or admire it…whatever). And despite what I’m about to say, I think that’s usually true, especially when it comes to asking for help. Many people out there are ready and willing to help others — if anyone would just ask them for help.

But there is such a thing as asking too much.

When our company gave our first-ever scholarship, you’d be absolutely amazed at how often the following would happen: Someone would call our office and ask to speak with someone regarding scholarships. We’d take the call, and the person would tell us they had applied for our scholarship. We’d congratulate them and wish them good luck. So far, so good.

Then, they’d proceed to ask us if they could just please have the money; in essence, to just toss all other applicants aside and cut them a check. No kidding. Happened at least once a week. At first, it was funny — the gall it requires to ask for something like that is remarkable — but it’s really not funny at all. You’re asking the committee to cheat on your behalf and possibly commit fraud by essentially turning a real scholarship contest into a pretend scholarship contest with a predetermined outcome. All this, mind you, for a person we didn’t even know until they picked up the phone!

Scholarships are a pretty level playing field. They require that everyone follow the same procedure, and may the best applicant win. Calling up and asking for the money outright is the absolute quickest way to ensure that you get none.

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