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May 11, 2010 / Brent Sears

The Truth about Scholarships


Here is a list of excused, and I have used them all:

  1. I had a bad semester freshman year
  2. I am not the type of person who anyone would give money to
  3. A lot of people are smarter than me
  4. I will probably be the last person they would choose
  5. I don’t write very good
  6. There is nothing interesting about me
  7. I can’t be the best candidate
  8. I know five people in my major who have higher GPAs
  9. I am too busy
  10. I am not an academic

And on-and-on the list could go.  This is insecurity talking, and luckily for you the vast majority of your peers think this way.  Trust me, they do!  They think that they are incapable of doing something worth talking about, and so that makes doing remarkable things even easier for you.

Often times, administrative offices have to find a student to give money to.  The award is sitting there, and it will look bad to the donor who gave it if the award goes unclaimed.  The myth is that scholarships are very competitive because it is “free money.”  The reality is that this “free money” goes unclaimed at times.  It is also not uncommon for everyone who applies for an award to get one.  (That happened to me when I went to Mexico in 2006.)

My recommendation, after both going through the process of winning awards and helping students do it, is to go through and find anything that remotely applies to you and apply when the deadline comes.  95% of students won’t even do the research so you are ahead of the game there.  The worst thing that can happen is you don’t get the award.  But if you keep trying you will most likely win eventually.  You just have to start playing the game.  Most of your peers never will.



Leave a Comment
  1. Sarah / May 12 2010 20:15

    I agree with this Brent! My whole college career I never bothered to apply for scholarships because I believed many of the excuses you have written. When I decided to go abroad and they handed me the scholarship form, I decided if any time I would just apply this would be it. I never thought I’d receive one but what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get it…that’s all. Dust yourself off and try again. I now believe there’s a scholarship out there for everyone!

  2. Brent / May 13 2010 16:38

    Sarah knows what every scholarship recipient knows. “What? That was it? It was that easy?”

    Yes. Your competition is no where near as good as you imagine. In fact, they think a lot like you do. ‘I am not good enough for the award.’ What happens when the majority of people think this way? No one does anything, and the student with a 3.0 who just applies wins the money.

    It happens all the time!

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