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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.