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May 10, 2010 / Brent Sears

Wage Earners v. Investors

I recently met a very impressive junior in college who had a 3.9 GPA, and had just applied for her first academic scholarship.  I see this all the time.  With a GPA that high, she should  have been wracking up the awards. So why did she wait so long to apply?  There are a few reasons by my main theory is as follows: (and this was true of me when I was in college.)

How do most middle class American families make a living?  Generally, they are wage earners that work 9-5 jobs for an hourly rate or for a weekly salary.  There is an underlying idea there: a dollars pay for a days work.  Students have learned this and they think that is the only way to make money.

There is nothing wrong with this idea, but there is another way to make a living or to get through college.  You can invest in something.  You can put your time and energy into projects and clubs that don’t pay anything initially.  This does have the appearance of risk, but there is also the prospect of gaining more than you invested in applying for scholarships that require this type of involvement.

A college education should be the same.  You invest a lot of money and time, complete your degree, and in the end you have skills that allow you to earn a better living.  The questions is, what are you investing in while in college?  Most students never think to write the essay because that is not how they have ever earned money in the past.  It does not fit the 9-5 model.

It also takes effort to find, apply for, and win a scholarship.  There is usually no one pushing you to do it either, so no one misses the fact that you let it go.  Do yourself a favor and start looking for money to fund activities you enjoy.  It will inject what you are doing with a sense of purpose and meaning that might just change your life.  It worked for me!

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