Finding Your Voice 5: Be Positive!

So we’ve talked about how you got to be original, you have to be passionate, you better be honest, and you must be descriptive. Now here’s my final tip for how to find your voice for your college scholarship essay: be positive!!!

Attending college is all about optimism for the future. Your scholarship essay should be upbeat and confident, just like your intentions for your career and the rest of your life. Don’t try to impress the judges with your caustic, jaded view of the world. Criticizing society for its stupidity might generate appreciation for your blog, but the scholarship committee doesn‘t want to be responsible for setting your negativity loose upon the educational world.

The judges also hate reading “tear-jerkers” with no salvation in sight. A sad story is almost as bad as a boring story, especially if the sad story is about your life. Your essay is not about making people feel so sorry for you that they wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if they didn’t give you a scholarship. This tactic doesn’t work on the judges.

Positivity is the key, but it doesn’t mean your essay should be perky (please, please don’t make it perky). Conflict and strong emotion are essential parts of good storytelling. It’s absolutely okay to write about the hardships that you’ve overcome in your life, just don’t forget the oh-so-important “overcoming” part! A triumphant conclusion is what changes a tear jerker into an award-winning literary masterpiece.Your essay shouldn’t be in denial about the sorrows that plague our world, but it also can’t dwell on the futility of attempts to move forward. In the earlier example of the girl who visited Mexico, her heart-wrenching essay presumably ends on a positive note, as she explains her plan to improve at least a small part of the harsh world that she witnessed. The scholarship sponsors want to educate people who are hopeful for change and willing to work hard to achieve it, not those who are starting out pessimistic and defeated.

So that’s my last tip on how to find your voice. Check back soon for advice on knowing when to shut up!

Photo by Greg Ortega on Unsplash

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