Yesterday I wrote about how school activities alone weren’t enough to win you scholarships, and that sent some of you into a panic. Seems many readers have been banking quite heavily on those school activities to win you some money. Not to worry: Today and tomorrow, we’re addressing how to beef up those applications and cash in on the mistakes of the other 99% of your classmates. You don’t have to cure cancer or stop global warming to win a scholarship — you just need to have a little more information than your classmates. And thanks to these emails, you’re going to have a LOT more. Here are two tips that will kick your scholarship applications into high gear and leave your friends in the dust (sorry, friends, but it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there).
Don’t forget your family. I know that we on the scholarship committees miss some incredible stories every day when our applicants write scholarship essays and mention absolutely nothing about the role they play in their own families. Let me say this clearly: your role in your own family is not as important as your school activities – it’s MORE important. Hey, let’s be honest: School will be over in a few years, but your family is around forever. Members of the cheerleading squad or the football team or the science club will forget your name in 10 years (trust me, it’s true — I’ve been to class reunions), but your family never will.
Probably the biggest crying shame in the entire world of scholarships is that, for years, thousands of excellent students have been passed over for scholarships. They are the students who have had no time to participate in extracurricular activities because they had to care for their families or work paying jobs to do so. Worse yet, those students are made to feel like they shouldn’t even apply, because they’re not “active” enough.
That’s the biggest and most unfair load of garbage I’ve ever heard, and don’t let anyone sell it to you. If you’re so busy with family responsibilities that you can’t involve yourself in student organizations, then you may just have a stronger application than those who do. But remember: We can’t give you credit for your family responsibilities if you don’t tell us what they are! So by all means, if it’s applicable to you, go into detail about how you spend time doing things for your family.
In the particular case of our company’s scholarships, we’ve always given heavy weight to “work ethic,” and that’s as applicable to those who work hard in their homes and at paying jobs as it is to those who work hard on the varsity field or inside the school walls. Our unwavering advice for scholarship essays is this: Tell your story, regardless of where it takes place.