You’ve heard it time and time again as a student; apply for every scholarship you can. I’m hear to tell you why this is a waste of your time as a student.
Is free money a waste of time? No, of course not. But when you have to devote hours upon hours to jump through unreasonable hoops to get free money, then it’s not worth it at all.
I spent so much of my time filling out scholarships when I was a young little high schooler, hoping that somewhere I would get one, just one. Just one. I would’ve taken any of them, even one for just $100, which is just a drop in the bucket for college expenses.
But I didn’t get one.
Even though I applied religiously to one a day between sophomore and senior year, sending in essay after essay, I received nothing. Zilch. A Big Fat Goose egg. Not a damn one.
But with everyone in the world applying for every scholarship they can find, the market has become saturated. Of course I understand that not everyone can get one, but with all the time and effort that is necessary to apply, it should seem that somewhere along the line, you should at least somehow secure at least one measly scholarship.
But that’s not taking into account all the ways that scholarships are rigged against some. I’m all for giving people from certain backgrounds the step up they need to get to higher education and to have the same opportunities that other demographics have. But to assume that some kids have control over their parent’s careers (which you can get scholarships for) or that all kids fit into very specific fields (being a certain ethnicity AND LGBT+ AND studying for a business degree AND being apart of a certain club AND being an amputee from a freak car accident in 2003, for example, to qualify for a $300 scholarship).
Seriously, I’m not trying to demonize the groups that need help getting into college. I’m trying to demonize the people that control who gets money and aid to go to school; the major corporations making too much and not reinvesting properly into communities, colleges that are not distributing aid properly to students and are not allowing students to petition for aid if they truly need it, and the government for not providing enough aid to students and not properly calculating how much a family can truly afford to pay for school and refusing to provide real aid for students.
So I quit applying for scholarships after my senior year because after investing 3 years with no returns, I decided it would be easier to just spend my free time doing things I liked instead of stalking my email for a new scholarship opportunity or spending hours reviewing a 200-word essay about ‘What College Means to Me’, to submit for a $100 scholarship.
Am I saying you should quit applying? Maybe, but only if you feel like that’s the right decision for you. Maybe you can’t find any scholarships that fit you and your background. Maybe you already received enough aid through your school’s financial package. Maybe you’re like me and you’re done trying to check all the boxes and jump through the hoops.
And I hear some of you in the background; well, how do you know you even qualified for certain scholarships and you weren’t just being greedy with someone else’s money?
So I’ll tell you all the boxes I tick for common scholarships:
- First-Generation College Student
- Studying a STEM field
I could go on and on finding all sorts of things in rare fields that I qualify for, but that doesn’t mean anything in the end. Because somewhere along the lines, I’m never going to be good enough to qualify for all these damn scholarships. So I quit and I want to encourage some of you out there that scholarships are not the end all be all to go to school. I want to encourage all of you that shouldn’t get discouraged about getting a scholarship because the market is saturated, there are too high of bars to meet for a normal student, and there’s so much competition.