Saturday, February 13, 2016

For our Honors scholarship candidates, a piece of unsolicited advice

You know that place on the application where it asks you to write about the achievement you're most proud of? Consider not using it to tell us about your 4.0 GPA.

Tell us about that cool science project you did. Tell us how you're always starting novels and you finally finished one. Tell us how you got promoted to manager at your job. Tell us about the first meal you cooked by yourself. Tell us how you took care of your grandmother when she was dying. Tell us about the time you protested that awful policy at your school and succeeded in getting it changed. Or tell us how you didn't succeed, but you still think it was the right thing to do.

Tell us about something real. (Numbers on a transcript are not real.) Tell us about something that will stay with you. (Your 4.0 will not stay with you. One muffed test, or one cranky teacher, and it's gone forever. You will not miss it.)

If you must tell us about your grades, tell us about how you blew off ninth grade geometry for half a semester and panicked when you realized your midterm average was a 47% and your parents were absolutely going to kill you when they found out, and then you buckled down and turned yourself into a geometry machine for the next nine weeks and managed to bring your final grade up to a hard-won C. And that was how you realized you were actually good at math when you could be bothered to put in the time and effort.

Oh wait, that wasn't you, that was me. (They let me into college anyway. They even let me be a professor, eventually.) And it happened back in 1991, before parents could check their kid's grades online every single night and find out about every missed homework assignment at once; back when teachers could assign an F and make it stick.

I think I see the problem here...


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I did scholarship interviews a couple of weeks ago. The lameness of the responses made me cringe. The only good responses we got came from a girl who had been through the foster care system. She understood what education was worth.

Fretful Porpentine said...

We do get some delightful candidates, but this year's crop seems to have a few too many who are playing it safe, listing heaps of activities and honors but not showing much in the way of personality or intellectual curiosity. (And we did, indeed, have one who listed the Bible as her favorite book and her mom as her favorite person. I thought of you.)