Applying for Scholarships

Usually I don’t post about such work-related topics on this blog…after all, I have plenty of opportunity to write about them on my company blog. But since I’m going back to grad school, and since I’m not overly fond of paying for things if I can avoid it, I’ve been applying for scholarships lately.

And I am lousy at following my own advice! In my professional capacity, my advice is as follows:

  1. Apply EARLY and OFTEN for as many scholarships as you reasonably can.
  2. Recycle essays whenever possible (and for heaven’s sake, proofread)!
  3. Don’t ever, ever, ever miss a deadline. Always submit your applications at least a week in advance of the deadline.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg…given the proper motivation and an audience of restless high school students, I can wax poetic about the finer points of scholarship applications for at least an hour.

I found out in March that I had been admitted to the PhD program. Of course, by then most of the February 1st scholarship deadlines had passed with nary an application from this corner. So did I jump right in and search for all the remaining scholarships I could? Heck, no! I put it off as long as I could. In my own words, I’d have to describe myself as “a slacker” on this particular point. I didn’t start looking for scholarships in earnest until, oh, about mid-May.

One of the interesting things I have discovered is that many scholarships are open to people under 25 (dammit, I just missed that by two months!) or to incoming college freshmen. There are comparatively few open to student in grad school; apparently something about people pursuing their fourth degree just doesn’t inspire people to donate money. Bummer.

So, about that whole “recycle essays” thing…yeah. In theory, this is great advice. But when the field of scholarships has been narrowed down by looming deadlines, eligibility based on which degree you’re studying for, and stuff that I might actually stand a chance of winning, it turns out that the types of essays are pretty varied. In the last week, I’ve written about what I want for my epitaph, the most interesting person I’ve ever met, how a clutter-free workspace impacts productivity (this is heavily ironic because the kitchen table at which I am writing now is a DISASTER), my academic goals, my career goals, why I deserve to win a scholarship, and who I would like to connect with on social media. The worst part of it all is that none of these have been longer than 500 words.

500 WORDS!

For a graduate student, it’s hell on hockey skates to read the requirement “500 words or less.” I can’t even properly start explaining my topic in 500 words anymore; it’s completely insufficient to do justice to the complexity of the piece! Some of them were 120 words or less. I won’t even bother trying to list all the expletives that used trying to whittle down a decent response to less than a bleedin’ paragraph.

And then there’s the whole deadline thing. I just submitted three applications today (June 26th) which are due on June 30th. Definitely not meeting my “week in advance” mark.

So here’s to hoping that one of these applications will pay off in terms of winning…they’ve all served as a great reminder of what a royal pain in the neck searching for scholarships can be.

Love, peace, and now-I-have-to-write-two-more-essays,


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