One of the hardest parts of my job is convincing a student to apply for a scholarship, especially to keep applying even in the face of rejection. I say this is the hardest part of my job because in my experience everyone gets excited about the idea of free money (aka grants and scholarships). Excitement is great if I am in line for The Price is Right, but excitement dies fast and does not write scholarship essays. The students who I see win scholarships and continue to do so, have three things in common: tenacity, repetition and a belief in themselves.
Ok, I get it. Who has time to research scholarships while taking a full load of classes, working a part-time job and trying to fit in a social life? It’s the students who are tenacious that make the time. Students who I see win scholarships at one point made the decision to set aside one activity for another. Some gave up a little sleep, others decided to stay home and fill out an application, while others didn’t even have a Spring break. These students set aside immediate reward for the possibility of something greater. It’s no different from what many of us do for class and for work, but very few of us do it for scholarships.
When I was an undergraduate, I flunked some classes and I nailed others. I did not stop taking classes because I got an A, nor did I give up on my degree because of a F. I kept taking classes and I finished my degree. Scholarships are no different. Apply for one, and then apply for another. Students who continually apply for scholarships continue to get scholarships. Just like every term there are books to buy, tests to take, projects to complete, there are also scholarships and grants to apply for. Am I going to get a scholarship by just applying one time? Absolutely not! My essay will be disjointed, I may not have thoroughly understood what the scholarship committee is looking for, and even if my application was solid there could be hundreds of others applying. The students I see receive scholarships and continue to do so, apply and then apply again.
Henry Ford (founder of Ford Motors) said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” What gives a student the tenacity to repeatedly apply for scholarships in the face of poor odds? The student who continues to get scholarships believes in himself. He believes in himself whether he gets an A or an F, whether his project receives accolades or harsh criticism or whether he wins a scholarship or not. Students who I see succeed against all odds believe in themselves despite “failure”. In fact they act in spite of in.
So what’s the next step? Do something different. Ask for help. Then do it again. If you have yet to apply for scholarships, go to your financial aid office or academic department and ask for a scholarship list. If you’ve apply for scholarships before, do it again. Have you seen a person in school who you know keeps winning awards? Ask her how she did it. Now apply. Now do it again.