Please, please, please: Just follow the instructions. Many of the tips you’ll read about in this book are very specific, but this one I’d consider more as a very general “rule to live by” – at least as far as scholarship applications go. It’s a cliché that rules are made to be broken, but don’t be tempted; the rules that a committee places on a scholarship are not there to be broken. They’re there for you to follow, and for good reason.
Did you ever wonder why, for example, most scholarship essay contests put a word limit on the essays you have to write? Is it simply a test that rewards the most succinct of writers? Not really. It’s something much simpler than that. Essays have word limits to make the task of reading all of those essays manageable for the busy committee members.
Now, you may read the title of this section and snicker at its minimal title to simply “Follow Directions.” Duh. Of course we know to follow directions, you say. We’re not stupid. Who would actually waste their time going to the trouble of filling out a scholarship application just to ignore the instructions?
A good question, and four years ago, I would’ve been as incredulous as you. But not now. The answer to that question is: Thousands and thousands of students do exactly that, every single month. They either screw up or thumb their nose at the instructions in dozens of ways. And by now, even though I’m used to it, it doesn’t cease to amaze me. Want some examples? Good, because I’ve got plenty: