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Scholarship Criteria Fails to Represent the "Real" You

June 05, 2007

I’ve been thinking lately about scholarships. It could be that we’ll be financing three college educations next fall and the need for scholarships has increased exponentially. As I search through FastWeb, it seems there are scholarships of every imaginable kind. Some require a great deal of time and energy to complete the application process and others only require a few simple clicks of the mouse. Some scholarships are highly focused and the applicants must meet a lot of qualifications even before they get to the application process. I think the ideal scholarship would provide the applicants with the opportunity to share a snapshot of their lives, a small glimpse of how the person behind the essay would change the world.

I think that it is important for students to express themselves well verbally and through their writing skills, but I also think that sometimes the most interesting things about a person are the things that cannot easily be graded on a scale. A student may not be the best scholar, but perhaps they have overcome some challenges that have made them stronger or more determined to succeed. Some students may be outstanding in their service to the community and others may excel in their inventiveness and creativity.

What if students were given the opportunity to submit one single photograph that provided a view from their life and then wrote in an essay how the photo is a window on their world? What photo would I choose to explain who I am and what makes me stand out from the crowd?

Could I tell my story in a sunset, the ones that gloriously light up the sky in brilliant colors? I would write about how I try to watch the sunset every day, about the peaceful feeling I get knowing that no matter how stressful the day has been, there is always an opportunity to make one final impression on the day.

Would I choose a photo of my home and family? Would I submit a photo of one of my heroes? What if my window on the world included memorable place I have visited? Or would I choose a photo that represents the “me” I’ve yet to be? What would my future self say about who I am today? Imagine a wall of entries with that one photo that stands out from the crowd and tells the story of a student’s dreams and hopes, not just where they have been, but also where they are going. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What would the picture you choose say about you?


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