While the scholarship system aims to help those who need it, unfortunately, some people face handicaps when applying. These handicaps generally center around three keys - diversity, financial need, and - above all - essay writing ability. If you're a white male, need money but have no provable financial need, or can't write an essay to save your life, these are significant handicaps to applying to scholarships. Here's how to start compensating for that handicap, if you have one. While there are tricks for each specific problem, the overall key here is honesty, without self pity.
The thing is, those who give out scholarships truly want to help those who deserve and need them, and they themselves know that the system isn't always fair. So tell them what your problem is, while proving that you are a hard worker who could use their money, and you may well find they're more likely to give you the scholarship.
This is just my own advice based on my own experience; you'll have to try it yourself to see if it works for you. For me, however, honesty seems to be what results in a scholarship. To earn a scholarship for those who are gifted, for example, I wrote about how the gifted system in public schools is actually rather unfair, and how non-gifted students like myself (I made it into the gifted program based on the different standards for minorities) can also benefit from the program. I've done the same thing talking about the problems with the system of defining financial need.
The trick is telling them your problem without dwelling on it too much. This is not your chance to rant and rave about how the scholarship system unfairly discriminates against you. Simply state your problem with the system, and then state how this obstacle you've had to confront only makes you more deserving of the scholarship. Like with any essay, you'll still have to prove that you have need of it and have earned the financial aid.
Of course, you have to pick the scholarship you apply for carefully. If the scholarship has clear benchmarks, for example, is only for Latino students, for those with Pell Grants, or is an essay contest, it's a wasted effort to try and say that as a white student, someone without provable financial need, or a poor essay writer that you deserve these scholarships as well. It's not worth trying. Instead, seek out a scholarship that you may, in fact, qualify for and work your problem into the essay, without pity or bitterness.
The worst thing you can do is to assume that since you're at a disadvantage, you won't get a scholarship and simply not apply for any. Always keep trying. It does you little harm to apply for a scholarship you don't receive. But if you never apply, then you will never be able to reap the benefits.
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