Paying for college is only getting more and more challenging over time. With tuition and costs increasing at a rate much higher than inflation, it’s nearly impossible for families to be able to afford it on their own — especially with multiple students. This leads to students borrowing huge amounts of money and signing up for the student “debt sentence.”
But what if I told you there is an alternative? What if I said that it was scholarships? For many families, they already have their arguments ready to go when I say this because they have heard the many myths that all of us have heard on why it’s impossible to actually secure scholarships.
Today, I am going to bust some of those myths so that you can focus on finding debt-free money, including scholarships.
Myth 1. You have to cure cancer in order to win a scholarship.
Many students and parents believe that if they didn’t cure cancer, there is no way they could compete for a scholarship. First, no one has cured cancer yet and there are billions of dollars given away each year. Secondly, I promise you that I didn’t cure cancer, but I still managed to get a free ride. That is because, while the competition is getting tougher and tougher each year, scholarship committees are still realistic (and very much amazed) at what a typical student accomplishes. Believing this myth will only hold you back from potential tens of thousands of dollars in debt-free money.
How can you overcome this myth? Learn how to sell what you have accomplished! Cut yourself some slack — I am sure you have done something selfless, impactful, genuine, caring, courageous, thought-provoking, and/or any other buzz word you could think of. It’s just a matter of being able to sell it in an essay. Does this take time? Yes. But once you get it down, it’s a piece of delicious, fruitful (and I don’t mean the food) cake.
Myth 2. Each scholarship requires a new essay.
Building off my latest point of ‘once you get it down, it’s a piece of delicious, fruit cake’, what I mean is that once you learn how to sell your accomplishments and build up your pocket full of solid essays, you can reuse them. They will require some tweaking here and there but I had a few great essays that I used over and over for at least 2–3 years. Yes, you can do that!
Myth 3. You don’t need someone else to proofread your essay.
Writing essays isn’t always easy. Proofreading them can be even harder — especially if you’ve been staring at it for a few hours. It’s easy to overlook mistakes, typos, missing words, etc. when you can pretty much recite it from memory at this point. The only way around this is to have someone else take a look. It doesn’t have to be a professor or teacher (see my next point), but it should be someone who has experience in writing and that you trust. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent teacher that helped me even after I graduated high school (yes, you don’t stop applying in high school which I cover more on in the free online workshop) but just make sure you have at least one other person take a look.
Also, if you tweak an essay that has already been reviewed, this still applies! Actually, tweaking essays is the easiest way to create errors because while you may think it is one small change, it could misalign many different pieces of your essay.
Myth 4. All teachers and professors are created equal.
Last but not least, be careful who you have proofread your essay. While you may assume any teacher or professor can help, that unfortunately isn’t always true. Try to find someone who has proofread scholarship essays before (and seen successes). A great way to go about this is to simply ask the teacher or professor if they’ve ever proofread a scholarship essay as a general question. You don’t have to say that you are applying, just scope out the situation. If they say no, you can kindly move on or ask them to take a look as a secondary resource. You should still try to find someone with experience in the area first.