I sit on the Volunteer Advisory Board for our local children’s hospital. Every summer, we award scholarships to a few of the youth volunteers. As I sat in our committee meeting last week reviewing the different candidates, I couldn’t help but think how surreal it is that teenagers have to prove themselves at every turn. At your most vulnerable, you are asked to put everything on the line and show how much you are worth. It boils down to an ACT score, a GPA, a handful of AP scores, a well-written essay. Can anyone be accurately summed up by such narrow criteria?
The truth is, we are so multifaceted, that it is hard to boil it down to a college application. And yet, that is the world we live in. It can’t be ignored. You have a dream school, a scholarship you’re dying to get. You have goals. And that is great. It’s a good thing to have ambition.
I have two tips for you. One practical, and one profound.
First, if you are about to enter your senior year, there are only a few things you have left to do. You have already baked your GPA. You can maybe take the ACT one more time, but you better be studying now. And, frankly, it’s hard to cram for the last 3 years of learning. Never fear. There is still hope! The one thing I have found when awarding scholarships, is that the essay almost trumps everything.
Now, we give all the criteria the same amount of weight. But, truthfully, someone’s emotional story can make me forget that they only got a 25 on the ACT. If they have a really good story, that wins me over. And I’m not the only one on the committee who does that. It’s simply human nature to be drawn to a good story. BUT remember: if you use poor grammar and spelling, I don’t care about your story and you lose any chance of the scholarship. One essay this last week was so poorly written, that none of us even considered the application for a minute. And we all discussed how awful it was after our meeting. We couldn’t believe anyone would turn something in without proper editing. If you care about the college or the scholarship, you will care to have a 2nd or 3rd set of eyes read your essay.
So, if you haven’t gotten your perfect scores, remember that not all is lost. Write a good essay. Wow the committee. Have a good hook and they will want to read to the end. Don’t be boring. Don’t lie. Don’t misspell. You have a tale to tell. We ALL do.
Now, for the most important tip:
Your Heavenly Father knows how much you are worth. And it frankly has nothing to do with your accomplishments. You are good because you are His. You are here to do His work. Sometimes that means you will be the smart girl with the high ACT. But you could also be the nice girl who always stops to talk to the person who feels friendless. Whatever your work on the earth is, do it well!
I am a happy, healthy person. I have a wonderful family, an incredible husband, I travel, I have lots of friends and I am pretty fulfilled. And I got a terrible ACT score. I only took one AP test in high school. I’ve blocked out my GPA. But I still graduated from college and had an incredibly fun experience in the process. You can have a great life. There are many paths. Do your best, but always remember that your worth stems from HIM and HIS love.
You are LOVED. And that’s the most important criteria of all.