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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The mountain is calling...

I have spoken a lot about the freedom funding college through scholarships gives -- and now I'm living it! Being debt free, I'm off on my own adventure for the summer -- I will be gone from now through late August in Israel and Europe. I don't want to abandon you, though, and so have still written a bunch of blog posts and scheduled them to go out once a week. Don't forget to keep looking for scholarships!

Have a wonderful summer!

Image by Leah Flores (

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Role Playing: Give a Scholarship to Get a Scholarship

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What are you doing when you apply for a scholarship?

“I’m getting money,” you answer.


You’re inspiring someone else to give you money—to fund your life and dreams.

One of the best ways to understand this is to do a bit of role playing. Imagine, for a moment, you’re going to host a scholarship. Actually, you’ve probably done something similar—have you ever hosted any sort of contest? Judged a class? It’s not that different.

After a lot of discussion with your peers in your music business, you’ve determined you want to help other students who, like when you were in college, wanted to study music, were very talented, but didn’t have the finances to do so.

If you're funding someone's college education, chances are, the top student has a better shot at your scholarship.

So you read every essay very carefully. You specifically chose the prompt, “How has music changed your life?” so you could really see the role music played in the applicants’ mental, emotional, and spiritual lives. Some of the applicants clearly weren’t passionate, naming things like, “it was a fun extracurricular,” or “I made money teaching piano.”

However, as you’re flipping through the essays on your kitchen table at midnight, another essay stands out. Even though this girl’s grades aren’t that great, she clearly loves music with all her heart. Not only has she volunteered at the community center (“Wonderful,” you think, “she likes music enough to not even get paid for it!”) but she is doing everything in her power to be a music teacher in the inner city of Los Angeles. From the list of jobs she’s had, you can see she’s trying hard, but ends just aren’t meeting. Clearly she’s dedicated to her goal: she just needs a little financial help.

There you go. She’s the one.

You see how this works? Your application isn’t just going out to a machine. It’s being read by people who care about you and your future. And speaking to them—that’s how you fund college through scholarships.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fighting Aliens with Your Scholarship Essay Opener

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Imagine you’re a scholarship provider for a moment. You have a stack of 106 essays in front of you, you’ve gone through 48, and it’s 11 p.m. You pick one up:

I want this scholarship because…


My name is Sally Jones and…

Yeah, whatever.

If I get this scholarship, I will…


Fighting aliens with lightsabers changed me into Jason Bourne.


Never underestimate the power of a wild, fascinating scholarship essay opener. Make it you. Use a story, movie reference, bizarre quote, radical statement. Be professional, but be risky—playing it safe does not get you scholarships.

Go on. Fight some aliens.

So say something radical. The boring things have all been said too many times, anyway. Besides, if you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. (And you won’t fund college through scholarships.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Top 10 Most Bizarre College Scholarships

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You think there are no scholarships out there for you.


Be prepared to have your mind blown. Here are the top 10 weirdest scholarships I’ve found, and they’re proof there are scholarships out there for even the most out-of-the-box person ever.

And neither do the following scholarships...

1.     Tall people

Are you a girl and above 5’10”? A guy taller than 6’3”? There you go.

2.     Short people

Don’t feel left out if you’re not tall, because if there's a scholarship for you, too.

3.     Left handers

You can finally get some payback (literally) for always getting pencil smudged on your hand when you write. And considering only about 10% of the world’s population is left handed, you have a pretty good chance at this scholarship, provided you attend Juanita College.

4.     Vacuum coaters

If you like to vacuum coat, this is your chance. If you’re like me and have not the faintest idea what vacuum coating is (fashion design for vacuum cleaners?), then maybe skip this one.

Stop complaining you have no specific skills. You have the specific skill of common knowledge. Get money with it.

6.     Klingon speakers

No kidding. See it to believe it. romuluSngan Hol yIjatlh. He'So' QIchlIj.

This just keeps getting better and better.

I think I’d rather be a part of Starfleet.

9.     Bagpipe majors

Considering only Carnegie Mellon University offers a major in bagpipes, if you qualify for this, you really qualify.

You never knew annoying your mom with your quacking could come in handy, huh?

There are a lot more weird scholarships out there, too, so get out there, find a couple, and start funding college through them!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writing Effective (Imaginary) Scholarship Essays

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The incredible writer C.S. Lewis once said, “Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.”

Sound too good to be true? It isn’t—not for scholarship essays. I know you probably think nothing could be more boring than writing 500 words on your life goals, but in fact, in the dozens of scholarship essays I wrote, I found the exact opposite to be the case: those essays were a thrilling opportunity to write about what I loved.

We know Eowyn's fight with the Nazgul never really happened -- but that doesn't mean an adventurous, exciting life is limited to Mordor and the Shire.

The best scholarship essays on your life and college goals will revolve around your heart passions. They will focus on the most amazing vision for your life you can think of—what you would dream up for yourself if the only requirement were that you were utterly happy. And believe me, dreams are fun to write about.

In that way, writing the perfect scholarship essay is like writing a fairy tale, an action movie, an adventure novel, where you are the star. And what could be more exciting than that?