This happens dozens of times a day, so pay close attention here. A committee may love your essay, but you’d be surprised how their impression of you may change once they realize it was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If it’s not obvious to you that sending email from addresses such as those is not exactly putting your best foot forward, then you should immediately go fill your sink with water and ice cubes, plunge your head into the icy cold and then WAKE UP!
Should it really matter what your email address is if your essay is great? Nope. Does it? Yes. File this one under “life isn’t fair.” Remember Rule #3 — the committee pays attention to every little detail. Yahoo!, Hotmail and Google all provide free email addresses – if you don’t have a firstname-lastname email address (as in, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org), then go get one from one of those services, and just use it for scholarships and other professional correspondence.
I would even take this a step further. The email addresses I used as examples above all contain some reference to drugs, drinking, sex, etc. — taboo topics, especially if you’re a high school student. However, I also recommend against sending email from innocent yet still non-professional sounding email addresses: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. Basically, any email address that isn’t just your name and/or initials, I wouldn’t use. It’s too easy to just go pick up a free email account and put the issue to rest, and to be sure you’re putting your Best Foot Forward.