The average scholarship applicant lists a truckload of school-sanctioned activities in which he/she has participated over the four years of high school. Sports teams, clubs, projects, competitions, etc. This can only be a good thing, right? After all, that’s what your parents and counselors have been telling you all along — the more stuff you participate in, clubs you join, activities you do, etc., the more well-rounded student you appear to be. And that’s all true, but it’s not the end of the story.
Frankly, school-related activities on their own just aren’t enough to grab a scholarship committee’s attention anymore. In addition to these common activities, you’ve got to go beyond the high school stuff if you want to grab the big scholarship bucks. Here’s why: The Internet has opened scholarship opportunities up to thousands of applicants who wouldn’t have been competing with you for this scholarship 10 years ago. And that means the less unique your essay is, the more likely it is that you’ll be passed over for the scholarship.
And about 99% of the application essays that students are writing these days talk about nothing but common high-school stuff: sports teams, clubs, groups — basically, I’m talking about any group they take a picture of for the yearbook. If there’s nothing but “high school stuff” in your essay, it’ll just be part of one big blur to the scholarship committee, and it’ll end up in the trash. They see literally hundreds of essays come in with that same stuff in them every single day. Not even a scroll of AP classes and high SAT scores are going to set you significantly apart from your competitors.
So does that mean you’re a loser, you and your four years of science club, soccer team, dance team, school play and varsity band? Of course not — that’s all great stuff and you should be glad you did it. But on its own, it’s not going to win you much scholarship money. The cold reality of the Internet age is that you’ve got to go beyond the ordinary to win big money — and, sadly, four years chock full of school activities is now considered ordinary.
You’ll have to dig for something deeper, better, more unique.
How, you say? Keep your pants on…that’s tomorrow’s topic.