Happy Monday, minions. Still feeling those Cadbury eggs and pastel M&M’s down in your gut, aren’t ya? Take a lap. Take two laps. Let’s get the blood flowing this morning. If I don’t, I’m gonna fall asleep right here at my desk.
Before we get started with the Mailbag, let me thank all of you who accepted Friday’s offer to submit an essay to be critiqued and cleaned up right here on the site. Lots of you said OK and sent them along (some privately, some right in the comment section), so I’ve got a couple dozen in the hopper already and will begin posting them soon. That said, if you’re reading this and you’d still like to throw yours on the pile, feel free to do so and send it in. Believe me, now that I’m in for 1,500 words or so every day of the week, I need all the source material I can get!
OK — mailbag it is. KG writes:
Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
22 ACT 3.5 high school GPA gets a full ride (housing/food too, 16 credit hours, and books included) for incoming freshman at Langston University.
The money is there, it just may not be at a school that you’ve looked at.
Man, KG has a point. If you’re in the market for a historically black college, you’d be nuts not to at least give some serious consideration to scholarships like these. Seems there are lots of scholarships like these around now — scholarships where, if you meet certain objective eligibility criteria, you automatically get X amount of money (and according to KG, in the case of Langston University, a full ride). Another one I happen to know off the top of my head from my home state of South Dakota is the Northern State Wolf Pact Scholarship, which awards students up to $10,000 over four years for an ACT score of 28. Not a bad reward for a three-hour test.
One day soon I’ll write about how the prestige of the college you attend matters a whole lot less than a lot of people think, but until then, here’s a summary of my thoughts on the matter: Generally speaking, you’re a lot better off in the long run going to a cheaper school than an expensive school. What you learn in college largely depends on yourself and how much effort you put into doing so; if you can do that for $10,000 instead of $100,000, you’re leagues ahead of your colleagues once it’s time to live out the rest of your life in the rat-race grind with all the rest of us. 🙂
Marie McNutt writes:
Where are the scholarships for us older people who have spent their lives giving of ourselves to raise a family and now find ourselves out and with nothing. Just trying to get some sort of an education with no funds in order to be productive citizens that are not dependent on the “system”.
That’s a good question, and unfortunately I don’t have a great answer (although I will keep it on my list for things to check out and write about). Specifically, I agree with Marie in wishing that what seems like a great majority of big-money and high-profile scholarships (and I’m talking about outside, independent scholarships) are restricted to high school seniors.
Look, I’m obviously all for supporting high school seniors, because the children are our future and all that jazz — however, I wouldn’t say that high school seniors are exactly a neglected segment of the college audience in terms of scholarships offered. Plenty of resources there for those kids. Returning adults, not so much. These folks have a lot to offer via their life and professional experiences; also, a lot of them have families to support while they’re trying to go to college. They need more help. Maybe we’ll create our own scholarship program for those folks. Consider it “under consideration” for the time being.
This blog has been very helpful to me but I also have a problem. I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Where people have cottages and only are there for about 2-4 months out of the year. I lived a 45 minute drive from my high school (a hour and a half bus ride).
Living so far from school made it impossible for me to join any clubs because I couldnt afford a car, and wasnt able to stay after school. There were slim to none volunteering opportunites where I lived. There was one. One weekend out of the entire year that I helped out at. I’m fairly certain this is one of the reasons why I’m not receiving any scholarships.
Yep, that’s definitely not a strong hand to be dealt in terms of opportunities, that’s for sure. Wish I knew exactly what area we were talking about here so I could try and maybe tailor some of my answer to your specific situation, but in cases like these, if I were you, I would do my best to use the Internet to my advantage. If there are little or no opportunities to help people face to face, the Internet is always there to connect you with an unlimited amount of people.
What exactly should you do with the Internet? I don’t know your specific community-service interests so I can’t say for sure, but in the absence of any other opportunity, it’s fairly easy with sites like Ning or WordPress.com to create free websites that are resources for the people you’d like to serve. And even if you find yourself unable to directly serve anyone through your site or social network, at the very least you can blog about a subject you’re passionate about and raise awareness of your issue.
In this case, it’s not only your commitment to the cause that would impress a scholarship committee, but also your creative solution to the problem of not being able to get involved in community service. After all, many people in the world see no convenient opportunity to do community service and therefore simply don’t; very few actually workto find a way to contribute.
Thanks for all the advice! But what should I do when a hardship essay is REQUIRED and I’m blessed with a two-loving-parents upbringing in an upper-middle-class area? AND I’m white? I understand that there are people out there who desperately need scholarships more than I do, and the last thing I want to do is disgust judges with a whiny essay, but any little scholarship I could get would help.
Good question. You won’t be finding any scholarships earmarked for stable, comfortable white kids from a two-parent home, that’s for sure. However, if you’re required to write on a hardship (and by that, I’m guessing you mean that the essay specifically asks you to write about overcoming a hardship), then I think you’ve got a lot more leeway in terms of what you write about. After all, they asked for it, so you gotta give ’em what they want. It’s not like you were given carte blanche to write about whatever you like and you chose to play some big victim.
When a hardship/challenges essay is required, are these examples okay?
1) When I was in middle school, my right eye was deeply scratched right on top of my pupil, and it got ulcerated and infected. The scar covered up my field of vision, and I was temporarily blind in that eye. There was a 50% chance that it would remain blind forever. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, as I had to see not only an eye doctor, but also a cornea specialist every day for 2 weeks, take steroid eye drops, and take another eye drop once every hour (including during the nights, which was terrible.) It was extremely painful. If I wrote an essay about this, I could write about how something that we take for granted and seems so basic to our everyday life, such as seeing, could vanish so quickly and change our lives forever.
2) This isn’t so much of a “hardship” as it is a “setback”. I seem to always try my best to win, and then I just barely lose. Making the last cut of the team… but then not making the team. Running for the highest position a student could have in the 142,000-student county, the Student Member of the Board of Education, putting in hours of work, becoming preoccupied with school system politics, letting myself be known to thousands of students… and then barely losing. Every loss in the lacrosse season being a loss by 1… and taking the blame as the goalie. Running for President of the Countywide Student Government… and then barely losing. Somewhere in that essay, I would come up with an uplifting positive outcome, like how Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team yet became an NBA all-star.
Great examples for the rest of the crowd to learn from here, Amy. I say no to the first one, and an enthusiastic yes to the second one. That injury was painful (oddly enough, a guy in our office just had the exact same thing happen a month ago — except his got infected because he slept with his contacts in). It’s painful — but it’s too brief. Frankly, the doctors fixed it too quickly to make it seem significant. Plus, it was random (you getting the infection) and there’s not a whole lot to be learned from it.
The second theme is huge, though, and a great essay topic. The greatest lesson most of us ever learn in life is to never give up, no matter how kicked around you get and how often you lose. Your experience is a twist on that theme, though — it doesn’t sound as if you’ve been repeatedly trampled by fate every time you’ve done something; you just come up a tiny bit short. Trust me when I say that millions of people know exactly how you feel. Go with that one!
OK, that’s it for today. Got some housekeeping to do around here before settling in for the national championship basketball game tonight. Go Butler! As always, leave your comments and questions below.
All the best,