Sandra is from Serbia. She’s multilingual and also survived some ferocious circumstances in the war-torn Balkans during the early ’90s. Will those help her win money for college?
When it comes to students who speak English as their second language, how helpful is it to colleges to accept students of different cultural backgrounds? Personally, I came to the states 13 years ago, and I speak Serbian and English with great fluency.
Most major universities actively seek students with a variety of cultural backgrounds, sure. You have to get to the level of very small regional or vocational schools before you can find the ones who really don’t care about that sort of thing.
I got my way up to AP Spanish Language and after that course I stopped. Do colleges see that as a good attribute to a student?
That you took Spanish, or that you stopped? 🙂 Speaking multiple languages is a wonderful thing, and it will absolutely help you get into colleges (and after that, it’ll help you get jobs). It’s always a good thing.
I’ve also considered writing in my scholarship essays about the hardships and memories that have stuck with me as a result of the war my family had gone through in the early 1990’s (which actually push me even harder to do well in my studies in America) but i feel that judges might think i’m trying to make them feel bad for me, and lure them into giving me a chance at scholarship money…. any helpful advice?
Absolutely. (Imagine that, readers — a scholarship question! It’s 2009 all over again. 🙂
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing about the things you lived through in Serbia; in fact, I’d encourage it.
You say that you’re worried the judges might think you’re trying to make them feel bad so they’ll give you money. And in a way, you are, but that’s no big deal. Everyone who applies for scholarships is trying to make judges feel however they need to feel in order to give them money. 🙂
The difference between making a good case for yourself as a scholarship recipient and simply telling a “sob story” is your record of achievement and how you present it.
If you emphasize your hardships and little else, then that’s a sob story. If you talk about your hardships in terms of how they’ve helped form the rest of your experience and how they’ve inspired you to achieve whatever it is you’ve achieved, then that’s a good essay.
In both cases, you complete the effective task of tugging on the judges’ heartstrings, but in the second case you give them a much stronger argument for selecting you by showing them how you took those difficult circumstances and used/still use them to inspire yourself to great things.
Make sense? Hope that helps. Thanks for the note!
— What about you guys — any thoughts about telling your hardship stories in college applications or scholarship essays? Let us know in the comments below!