30 Days of Scholarships

So this month is a tough one. It is tough because I’m not working on a character trait that has been annoying me or something fun or challenging. I’m working on something that frankly, no one every wants to do but every one is told to do: I’m applying for scholarships.

Scholarships is an American invention that deserves to be in my “America, You’re Funny” series because it’s a bit absurd. In America education is expensive and not free the way it is in most countries. For instance, it can cost $40-60,000 for undergraduate and at least that much and much more for a graduate degree. To pay for it you can be incredibly smart, which I honestly never understood how colleges decided that because the people I know who got scholarships seemed to get them based for very unpredictable reasons. You can be from a disadvantaged background, which already says something about a culture where things are so bad that people need a leg up and that they are unlikely to get a leg up without a scholarship. Or you apply for scholarships through third parties.

The MBA program I am attending has no scholarships. This means I can take on loans and suffer for many years later, have money that I saved, which at $60,000 for two years, I don’t. Or my last resort, try to win scholarships. Which frankly, once I began the attempt, seems more like a waste of time.

Scholarships seem like a waste of time because first of all, the eligibility criteria seem like they are set for those who might get a scholarship from a university anyway. Secondly, they require a lot of random work. They are clearly predisposed to people who can write as most of them require at least one 500-2000 word essay. Some of them require letters of recommendation and official transcripts.

So for this reason I have developed strategies.

1.First I use a really helpful website called MyScholly.com. It costs $2/month so for the year that I use it it would be $24. It allows me to put in a lot of things into my profile and then it comes up with a search. This already makes the previous process of just finding scholarships a lot easier.  Lucky for me I also live in the internet age so I save money on postage as most of them ask for me to email the application as well.

2. I can’t imagine how many letters of recommendation someone would need to get a college education paid for or the cost of all the transcripts. So for that reason, I try to minimize

3. I try to find scholarships that don’t take up too much time and don’t offer low money. The idea is basically if I can earn faster money than I can applying, then why apply. My current consulting gig gets me $40/hour. So I figure that if I win 1 out of 10 scholarships, I want it to be at least $50/hour so that I didn’t waste my time.

4. I really try to get rid of any scholarships for which I’m not a decent fit. The point here is not to waste time, not shoot and hope and pray. So I try to go for those that might have a good pay off and I feel I have a chance with.

5. I use Grammarly.com to check my grammar before I send off the letters. That certainly helps me save time as it finds a lot of simple errors. Maybe I’ll spring for the full version to catch the advanced ones too.

As usual, I keep copious notes and spreadsheet on this process. In the end, my prediction, is that this is a sham. Perhaps I’ll get good at these essays and win enough to carry me through two years of grad school. One application a day is certainly makes my actually do this every day and it’s almost like writing in a journal. It helps me write and become a better writer, at least I hope. Some of them have quiet interesting prompts, so maybe I will share those. But for now, wish me lucky, certainly with this it seems like I’ll need it!

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The End:

The month has passed, I have yet to recieve a single scholarship. However it takes some time to get them back.  After 30 days I applied to 17 scholarships, I have spent about 21 hours which at my payrate would be $840. The total amount I applied for was about $20,000. I know that at least a few of those scholarships will not work or are not legit as once I sent them, they bounced back and seem to be scams to get people who are desperate to their website. Some I hope will pan out but it depends on whether they think I am going to a US or an Israeli program since it is technically in Israel even though I will get a US diploma.

So we shall see if it is a scam, but regardless of whether it is or not, I think these organizations should donate to the Universities if they care about students and let universities pick the students so the students don’t waste money. I think American system should also be such that students don’t have to go through this process.

However, should I earn $10,000 for 21 hours of work in one month, I think it would be a very good way to pay for college. Time will tell.

As for nex month’s challege, I’m a little down on myself for not being as productive as I’d like. So let’s try positivity for thirty days  and see the effect on my work and studies :).


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