Don’t knock your peers.

When they’re trying to show the scholarship judges what hardworking and focused young people they are, a lot of our applicants end up disparaging their peers in order to make the point. We get a lot of statements like:

“While the other kids in my class were out(fill in the blank here: partying, horsing around, having fun, etc.), I was (fill in the blank again: studying until midnight, working three jobs, caring for my seven nephews and nieces, etc.).”

Most writers don’t realize this, but drawing these comparisons to the other students can make you sound a little uppity. You should definitely mention all the challenging things you’ve accomplished, but it’s better to just mention those and drop the “While my classmates were out…” part.

We already know what a lot of the other kids are doing in their off-time: We see them street racing on the highway, loitering at restaurants and preening at the mall. But we also know that those are mostly just the normal things that normal teenagers do, and there’s nothing wrong with being normal. When you go out of your way to bring up comparisons between yourself and normal students, it can make you look arrogant. Another reason not to bring up what “all the other kids” are or aren’t doing is that, frankly, even if you’re busting your hump three times as hard as your friends, there are lots of other kids you don’t know who are doing the same thing. No one knows better than us — we’ve got stacks of applications lying around from kids who are saying the same thing.

The moral of the story, then? Don’t talk about others, just talk about you. The judges will already be comparing you to all the other kids — you don’t need to remind us.

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