Update Blog Testimoni Para Penerima Beasiswa

Saya baru meng-update blog Beasiswa Indonesia yang isinya adalah testimoni anggota-anggota milis beasiswa yang berhasil mendapatkan beasiswa. Membaca blog ini pasti memberi semangat baru bagi Anda. Silahkan baca di http://beasiswaindonesia.blogspot.com.

Posting-posting terbaru:

Mewawancara Lagi..

Hari ini saya kembali dapat kesempatan untuk mewawancara beberapa kandidat penerima beasiswa. Berbeda dengan wawancara sebelumnya, kali ini program beasiswa yang diberikan sifatnya non-degree. Artinya penerima beasiswa itu tidak akan mendapatkan gelar apa-apa setelah selesai mengikuti kuliah di negara tujuan beasiswa.

Tentunya tidak etis kalau saya bicara secara detail tentang program beasiswa itu dan penilaian saya terhadap para kandidatnya. Tapi saya ingin membagikan observasi saya terhadap proses wawancara tadi. Moga-moga bisa memberikan masukan bagi rekan-rekan yang ingin mendapatkan beasiswa.

  1. Senyum itu penting. Walaupun tegang, usahakan tersenyum. Bukan hanya Anda akan merasa lebih rileks, pewawancarapun juga merasa lebih konek dengan Anda. Ini tentunya bagus, karena suasana wawancara bisa lebih baik. Senyumnya tentunya jangan berlebihan, nggak perlu dipaksakan. Wajar-wajar saja. Pokoknya keep smiling dan show your best.
  2. Be confident. Ini membangun impresi yang baek buat Anda. Kalau ada percaya diri, pewawancarapun akan mempunyai kesan Anda orang yang matang dan bisa menangani masalah. Salah satu concern pewawancara beasiswa adalah apakah Anda bisa meng-adjust diri Anda dengan kehidupan yang berbeda di luar negeri. Being confident memberikan kesan Anda akan dapat mengatasi masalah-masalah tersebut. Gimana caranya bisa confident? Satu hal yang penting: percayalah kalau Anda sudah diundang untuk wawancara, berarti yayasan pemberi beasiswa sudah melihat ada sesuatu dalam diri Anda yang mereka cari. Anda tinggal memberikan penjelasan yang lebih dalam tentang hal tersebut lewat proses wawancara.
  3. Be specific on your study objective. Kalau misalnya Anda pengen belajar art atau seni, Anda harus lebih spesifik lagi menunjukkan pada pewawancara art apa yang Anda pengen pelajari. Bahkan sebaiknya Anda bisa menunjukkan subject atau ilmu tertentu yang pengen Anda cari di negara tujuan Anda. Jangan waktu ditanya Anda megap-megap gak keruan karena Anda masih belum tau mau belajar apa. Ayo dong, tunjukin ke pewawancara itu kalau Anda memang sudah punya tujuan yang jelas buat belajar di sana.
  4. Planning planning planning!!! Banyak sudah website yang membahas tentang beasiswa. Demikian pula sudah banyak website yang membahas tentang wawancara. Website tentang pendidikan pun gak kalah banyaknya. Jadi seharusnya Anda gak bisa bilang Anda gak punya informasi tentang beasiswa, negara, ataupun program yang ingin Anda ikuti. Pokoke, persiapkan diri Anda sebaik mungkin dengan mencari informasi sebanyak-banyaknya.  Buat saya pribadi, saya akan kasih nilai lebih buat kandidat yang terlihat lebih siap dibanding yang tidak.

Begitu dulu buat hari ini deh. Anak saya udah mulai ngajak main dan sibuk gangguin saya.. hehe.. All the best untuk Anda pencari beasiswa!

The Top 10 Tips for a Successful Job Interview

Category: Careers (AB8)
Originally Submitted on 9/12/96.

Job interviews in many organizations are getting sophisticated these days. Psychological tests, role plays, and challenges to one’s “quick intelligence” and street smarts are often part of the package. While it’s impossible to anticipate everything you may encounter, here are ten tips that will help you negotiate the interview process successfully.
1. Prepare and over-prepare.

It is assumed that you don’t go in with egg on your tie, spinach in your teeth, or without a thorough knowledge of the organization and position for which you are interviewing. Beyond that, there’s an important principle that will enable you to be much more confident. It’s called, “over-preparing.” It goes like this: Plan your strategy–your answers to all the possible questions you may be asked or the challenges that may be thrown at you–and then practice, practice, practice. Role play and repeat your best responses until they are entirely natural, until they simply roll off your tongue with the apparent spontaneity that comes only with successive repetition.
2. Be particularly clear on what you know and what you want to achieve.

If your interview is resume-based (you’ve had to supply a resume either before or concurrently), have the facts of your stated objective, relevant experience, education, etc. thoroughly memorized and mentally supported. As to your job objective, be clear on what you want, as well as what you don’t want. There’s little room in the job market for the applicant who’s willing to take anything; he or she will usually get nothing!
3. Make sure your responses match your claims.

If, for example, you’ve taken extra coursework to qualify for a particular position, license, or certification, tie it into your narrative, e.g., “When I took my coursework for my CPA, I learned that …” Build on your resume, but don’t refer directly to it (assuming the interviewer has it in his or her possession); make sure the connections are there, but do it subtly.
4. Be clear about your strengths.

You’re almost certain to be hit with questions pertaining to your strengths and weaknesses. Know your strengths and emphasize those that relate specifically to the position for which you’re being considered. If, for example, you’re applying for a sales position, you might describe one of your strengths (if it’s true) as follows: “I’ve made a study of personality types and I’ve learned to quickly type people in terms of the kinds of approaches that might best attract them.” Be prepared, in this case, to back up your claim if the interviewer suddenly asks: “What type would you say I am?”
5. Describe your weaknesses as strengths.

This is tricky, so let’s think about why the question is asked. The interviewer probably wants to learn several things about you with this question, such as: whether or not you are arrogant (“I really don’t think I have any weaknesses”), whether you know yourself (“Well, I’ve never really thought about that”), and finally, what you are doing to eliminate your weaknesses. Here are two ways to answer this question so that you leave a positive impression in the mind of the interviewer: (a) Show that, in overcoming a weakness, you’ve learned. If, for example, there’s a period in your chronology that just doesn’t fit (say that you took a job selling cars between jobs as an accountant … it happens!), you might tell the interviewer: “One weakness, which it took me some time to overcome, wasthat I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to be an accountant. For example, in 1988-90, I worked as a car salesman. I did so because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make accounting my career. That experience taught me that I really didn’t want to sell products, and that I was much more challenged by the opportunity to solve client problems. (b) Pick a weakness that is really a strength. If, for example, you’re interviewing for a job in an organization you know is hard-charging and unforgiving of average performance, you might say, “One of my weaknesses is that I tend to be impatient with people who aren’t willing to pull their full weight and give 110%.” In this case, your “weakness” may help you get the job.
6. If you’ve been fired, be forthright about it.

So many people have been laid off through no fault of their own in the past ten years that it’s no longer a stigma to have been fired–unless it was for justifiable cause (e.g.,- you socked your boss). Answer directly, but without a “charge” in your voice. Expressing your bitterness over being let go tells the interviewer (rightly or wrongly) that you can’t accept the realities of modern free enterprise — that downsizing is acceptable and often necessary.
7. Be clear where you want to go.

A standard question which has all manner of variations is: “Where do you want to be five years from today?” Only today, the answers are different. Unless you plan to inherit Dad’s company, your answer is apt to be a lot more general than it might have been a decade ago. Why? Because the economy and nearly every industry are changing so fast that specificity with respect to the distant future is extremely difficult. So, instead of responding to the question with, “I plan to be in a position of senior leadership in this company,” you might want to say: “I plan to become qualified in every phase of this industry.” The exact response depends upon the specifics of your job hunting campaign, but the principle is: be specific while allowing yourself the flexibility which suggests that you understand the complexities of the business you’re applying for.
8. Have clear personal standards.

This is a sleeper because, on the face of it, the question doesn’t seem to have much to do with the immediate interview. Today, however, many organizations are looking for people who DO have standards regarding their personal and professional lives, who can articulate them clearly and concisely, and who live by them. In this case, the briefer, the better. “I delegate my weaknesses.” “I don’t take on projects unless I can give them 100% dedication.” “I respond in specifics and avoid meaningless generalities.” “I am committed to life-long learning and growth.”
9. Interview the interviewer.

The applicant who will take anything offered is unlikely to win any but the most temporary of positions. A competent interviewer (there are some) will respect your efforts to assess the organization and the position in terms of whether or not it meets YOUR requirements. And you owe it to yourself to have defined before hand, what you ideally want and what you are willing to settle for, under certain conditions. For example, you might really want a salary of $75,000 to begin with, but you’d be willing to take less if the opportunities for growth are clearly in the picture.
10. Don’t allow yourself to be badgered by the salary issue.

Even today,it’s still not uncommon to hear the old refrain: “Our policy is not to pay a new employee more than X% higher than he/she is currently making.” Sorry, that doesn’t fly. The real issue, and the only one at stake here, is whether or not your prospective employer is willing to pay WHAT YOU ARE WORTH. And, your worth is a function of the job itself and your capability and willingness to perform it. In most organizations, there are clear parameters for a given job, a range of salary that is adjustable depending upon the market and the applicant’s experience. In most cases, unless you are very good, you will have to work within those limits. But, within the limits, what you are worth is a matter of mutual agreement based on your own knowledge of your worth and your ability to convince those interviewing you. So, to sum it up: Know the range of compensation for the job you’re seeking, make your own realistic determination of what you’re worth, and then be prepared to stand your ground.

Financial aid administrators offer advice to students

Families often hear about the millions of scholarship dollars that go unused each year, an anecdote that has been repeated so many times that it is accepted as fact. Unfortunately, this pot of scholarships at the end of the rainbow is a myth: While some scholarships go unused, much of the money included in that figure comes from employers’ tuition remission programs. There are scholarships out there, however, and you can increase your odds of winning one by following these eight steps:


  1. Consult the financial aid office: The largest amount of financial aid comes from federal, state, and institutional grants and tuition discounts. Your financial aid office can help you find information on available scholarships, grants, and loans according to your needs and background. 
  2. Contact your academic department: If you have already decided on a major, your academic department may be aware of awards designated for students in your area of study. The student aid office does not always have information on these highly specific programs, so be sure to check both. 
  3. Use a free scholarship search engine: Ask the student aid office to recommend free scholarship search sites other students have found useful. Online searches let you focus on scholarships that fit your personal characteristics, helping you target your search to only those scholarships for which you are most likely to qualify. Some sites bombard users with promotional scholarships that may turn out to be advertisements in disguise, however, so make sure you know what you are signing up for when and if you give out your personal information. 
  4. Never assume: Don’t believe that because you don’t have straight A’s and can’t shoot a 3 pointer, there’s nothing available to you. There are scholarships available based on hobbies, interests, background, financial need, etc. According to FinAid.com, there’s even a $1,000 scholarship for a left-handed student. Seek out local and national organizations and associations in your areas of interest to see whether any scholarship opportunities exist. 
  5. Write the essay: No one likes to write essays, so use that fact to your advantage. Scholarships that require essays receive fewer applicants, giving you a better chance of qualifying. Keep copies of all the application materials you submit; often essays and other application materials can be tweaked and used again for future applications. Be sure to thoroughly proofread before submitting each application. 
  6. Stack up the small scholarships: Studies show that families often overlook scholarships that are less than $500. You may be thinking that these awards won’t even make a dent in your college costs, but adding up multiple small awards can prove to be a benefit in your scholarship quest. 
  7. Apply early: The best time to apply is NOW! Waiting too long will result in missed deadlines. Seniors should start filling out applications to meet the early or mid-fall application deadlines. Don’t wait to be accepted to a college to research and apply for private scholarships. If you don’t receive a scholarship the first time around, don’t get discouraged. Most scholarships are not limited to freshmen; you may have better luck the following year. 
  8. Don’t get scammed: The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about scholarship scams, which promise that, for a fee, they can help the family access more student aid. Similar scams charge students high scholarship search or application fees. According to the FTC, “[M]ost scholarship sponsors do not charge up-front fees to apply for funding, and no legitimate scholarship sponsor can guarantee that you will win an award.” The financial aid office at your school can help you apply for student aid, and free scholarship searches are available online.

Even without scholarships, families can still find ways to afford college. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and contact your school’s financial aid office to find out what federal, state, and institutional aid you might qualify for. Finding money for college is a lot like taking classes: The way to succeed is to do your homework.

Upping Your Odds of Winning

Service clubs, companies, and charities hand out more than $2 billion in private scholarships every year to more than 1 million college undergraduates. That means 1 out of every 13 students wins an outside scholarship to help defray tuition. And it’s not chicken feed: The average award totals about $2,000.

But millions of other students slave over essays and applications for naught. Scholarship America, the nation’s biggest manager of scholarship programs, says that, on average, for every one of the scholarships it hands out, three or four applicants are rejected. Worse, several hundred each year lose money to fraudsters who charge application or processing fees-something no legitimate scholarship does. Scholarship judges, fraud investigators, and previous winners say a few simple techniques can boost your chances of winning money.

You’ve got to play to snag scholarship dollars

By Kim Clark
Posted 9/10/06

True: There is a lot of private scholarship money available for smart, hardworking students willing to seek out donors and enter contests. False: There is so little competition for those scholarships that it’s easy to collect thousands of dollars in unclaimed awards.

Don’t bother with any offer or contest that requires you to pay money or that even just asks for a credit card or other financial number to “hold” the scholarship. Scholarship America says legitimate scholarships never do this. While many scholarships require proof of financial need, such as that provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), there’s no need for any scholarship to have your bank account or credit card information.

Don’t trust any pitch that says a scholarship is “guaranteed” or indicates the student has been preselected or is a finalist in a contest he or she hadn’t entered, says Gregory Ashe, spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission.

Don’t copy previous winners. Too many entrants in the $3,000 Duck-brand contest to make prom outfits from duct tape simply tweak the designs of previous winners, says Bethany Schmotzer, a Duck Products executive. This year, the judges eliminated prince-and-princess-style costumes because that kind of design won in 2004. Schmotzer voted for the 2006 winning couple (Holly Nelson, 18, of Willington, Conn., and Bing Xu, 18, of Ashford, Conn.) because their “snazzy” outfits surprised her with creative ducttape hats and other accessories.

Don’t waste a lot of time writing new essays for different competitions. Try instead to rework essays already written for courses or college applications, says Ben Kaplan, author of How to Go to College Almost for Free.

Follow instructions and do a spell check before sending your entry. Judges in the OP Loftbed $500 essay contest say they can discard about 60 percent of entries for not following contest rules. Then they ditch almost half of the rest for bad spelling and grammar.

Zig where you expect your competition will zag. Lesley Wainwright, who won one of the prestigious Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation scholarships in 1994 and has been a judge for the $20,000 top prize, says prize judges “know the canned answers.” When she applied, she had to answer the question, “If could you could go back in history, what one thing would you change?” She figured everybody else would write about saving the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy, or perhaps abolishing slavery. She wrote instead about something she’d just studied: She said she’d prevent the burning of the library in ancient Alexandria.

Scholarship Essay

Now we’re in the most anxiety-producing part of the application process – writing the essay response. We know that many people struggle with the writing process. We also know that the requirement to respond to an essay question that:

Might require research, e.g., the National Fire Sprinkler Association requires you to do research on a specific law then state an opinion.

Seems like one more school assignment in an already crowded calendar, e.g., the Signet Classic Annual Essay Contest asks you to read “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde and answer a question such as:

Lord Henry Wotton is attractive to almost everyone in the novel from Dorian Gray, who becomes evil, to Basil Hallward, who remains principled throughout. What kind of person is Lord Henry? Why is he so appealing to the other characters? Support your answer with specific references to the novel.

Asks you to talk about yourself in some broad or narrowly defined way such as the all-ink.com $1,000 scholarship contest that requires a 50- to 200-word essay on who has had the greatest impact on your life, and a 50- to 200-word essay on what you hope to achieve in your personal and professional life after college.

Developing an essay can be intimidating. Anne Lazaroney, Guidance Counselor, says that students don’t know how to begin writing essays and they are intimidated by the competition, figuring that they can’t possibly write well enough to win anyway, so why bother?

Let’s look at the facts. You are graduating high school, right? Some set of educators apparently believe that you are capable of putting together coherent thoughts on a piece of paper. Plus, we already know that 90% of the people who apply, valedictorians, creative writing gurus, school paper journalists and just plain folks, have already failed to get to the finalist circle because they messed up the application. This information suggests that you probably have a decent chance at winning a scholarship if you put your mind to it.

Before we go any further, we should be clear on one point: regardless of the theme of the essay, Dorian Gray or fire sprinklers or anything else, the essay is really about you. Clearly, The NFSA wants you to learn about fire sprinklers and Signet wants to encourage enjoyment of the classics, but more than anything else, the judges want to know about you, your thoughts, your beliefs and your ideas.

Most Students Don’t Know How to Start the Essay…

Guess what? Getting started is sometimes the most difficult part of writing for professional writers as well. However, never starts writing without doing a couple of things first.

Understand the Purpose of the Writing and the Motivation of the Askers

Analyze the question or topic

Write down the essay question. How many parts does it have? Does the question suggest a structure or order, such as first describe your role in… then tell why it had the following effect… and what you learned from it….

Do you have to do research first or is this a question that is strictly about you that will come from an analysis of yourself?

Why have the judges asked this question or posed this topic? Recognizing that all essays are about you, how are the judges planning to get to know you through this essay?

Analyze the Organization

What is this scholarship about? Who founded it? What is the mission of the organization? Why are they providing scholarship money? Who are the judges? What special points of view do they bring to the judging?

How do you find out this information? Usually, you can find a great deal of background from the scholarship website or the printed material provided by the scholarship group. Dottie Theriaque from the Community Foundation says that if you have a question about purpose or anything else, call and ask. Funders are eager to help applicants; that’s what they are all about.

In a phone call with Josh Barsch , founder of the Dale Fridell scholarship, he was very clear in his explanation that his scholarship group does not believe that only valedictorians or super jocks or Ms. “I Belong to Every Club” should get help going to college. Josh notes that once you leave school, the only person who will care about your GPA is you. You will success will be based on what kind of person you are, how you approach challenges and what your work ethic values are. Your GPA may be some indicator of your potential, but you will have to figure out how to reach that potential and it’s that process that will set you apart. That’s why the Fridell scholarship doesn’t request GPAs and SATs and club lists. Kind of levels the playing field, doesn’t it? Plus, if you are the valedictorian or the super jock, the only message is that you are not solely defined by that honor or activity. You are much more and Josh’s contest asks you to go beyond the usual high school achievement trappings and reveal more about yourself.

Create goals for the writing

For example, your goal in responding to an essay might be to:

Demonstrate personal traits in myself that are similar to the personal traits of the person for whom the scholarship is named. (The Brower Youth Award is given in honor of David Brower, to “honor his lifetime of bold action, inspiring mentorship, and principled effectiveness which helped give birth to the modern environmental movement.”)

Use present tense and optimistic phrases to show that I am an active, vibrant, can-do person.

Show how my strong family support contributes to my success.

Emphasize my sense of balance in academics and family life.

Do these goals sound so generic that they could be written for any essay? That’s not necessarily true. An essay for a scientific award may not want to portray a person as vibrant and can-do (and possibly lacking in the self-discipline necessary for rigorous scientific study) but instead as a diligent, highly curious person with a passion for understanding why things work and the patience to test all of the variables in order to come to a valid conclusion.

Depending on the award and the personal circumstances, a goal of the essay might be to demonstrate a commitment to succeed despite unstable family circumstances such as living in a variety of foster homes. Or, using a different approach, a conscious choice to forego balance between academics and family life to pursue a passion for learning about gene mapping in order to search for a cure for the multiple sclerosis that has made a family member an invalid.

3. Develop a Theme

Some may argue that you should develop a theme for your essay and then write goals. We believe that the opposite is true. When you read an essay question, it may be immediately apparent to you that the theme, or the message that you want to convey, has to do with your commitment to the healing profession as an extension of your desire to better people’s circumstances. Wonderful! However, if the theme of your essay is not immediately clear, break down the work by establishing a set of goals based upon your understanding of the essay’s intent, the mission of the funding organization, etc. These goals may lead you to one or more themes for your essay. In the set of goals above, the theme that may be emerging from the goals is an appreciation for the family or the team as a cornerstone to individual and group success. You can use your experience as a club leader in developing a team approach and your decision to ask members of your family to be on your college team to proofread, edit and search for opportunities as ways to show that you value working relationships and your leadership style will be successful in inspiring group success.

No matter which approach you take, goals first or theme development first, the important take-away is to establish a theme and goals and to be sure that the theme and goals relate you as a person to the subject you are writing about, even if the subject is a character in an Oscar Wilde novel or a pending piece of legislation.

Outline Your Response

Many people write by beginning anywhere with a free flow of ideas that they then mold into an appropriate order. Yes, that can work; you can occasionally start a project by writing down random thoughts. However, we recommend that you try very hard to approach your essay by writing an outline of what you want to say. The outline will assure that you have the right order and that you will cover all of the points you want to cover. Outlining does not necessarily mean that your essay goes into a required chronologic order, for instance. Some stories are best told by starting in the middle, then describing how you got there and how you are going to go forward. The outline will make it easier for you to move around the timing of various parts of the story to get the most dramatic effect.

There is a downside to the outline, we think. Sometimes it is difficult to make the transition from one section of the outline to the next, making the essay sound like explanatory words hung on a frame, very skeletal in effect. That’s why later in this chapter, we will pay special attention to transitions so that your essay flows well.

It’s Time to Write

Now it’s time to fill in that outline and tell your story. We have chosen not to give you a lot of new rules and directions in this section because we want you to simply get the story out on paper. You already have the basics- a theme in mind, a set of goals to meet and an outline to work from. Do your best and we’ll meet you in the next section to talk about it.

It’s Time to Re-Write

Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo made dozens of sketches before embarking on their masterpieces. Read the biography of any writer and discover that everyone, yes everyone, needs to re-write. You must do so because this is not an e-mail or a last minute book report, it’s a ticket to money if you do it right.

Show, don’t tell.

Go back through your essay. In every sentence where you have told the judges something, is there a way to show by example? Consider the following.

My family does not have a lot of money. I worked my way through high school at Wal-Mart.

This is a good piece of information to share. However, the message can be made more vivid by sharing more detail.

My family does not have a lot of money. I worked at the local Wal-Mart most evenings and did my homework on the bus ride home or after work.

Much better. Now the judges know that you were very busy and can feel the squeeze of needing to earn money and still get your school work done. One more time.

My family does not have a lot of money. We work together on a schedule so I can earn money for college and stay on top of my school work. Most weekdays after school, I attend one of my club meetings then catch the late bus home. I usually finish my math homework on the ride. I get home in time to grab supper ahead of time (Mom always has something ready on the stove) then work on other homework until Dad drives in at about 5:35pm. We pass each other in the driveway, transferring keys and information. (“I aced the math test”; “It needs gas on the way home”.) The fifteen minute drive gets me to Wal-Mart in time to punch in for the 6pm to closing shift. On nights that the family needs the car, Dad drives me both ways. I’m home again by 9:30pm, in time to chat with my folks and watch thirty minutes of ESPN before going to bed.

Now this is a cool guy in a great family. Everybody participates, everybody cooperates. You can feel the close timing involved in making this situation work. You can hear the easy interaction of people who like each other. You know that this guy is not a robot because he needs a little human interaction plus a little TV before starting over. We like him, don’t you? We’d like to help out this family; they deserve it. Bingo!

Present Tense, if Possible

The present tense allows people to live the information with you. It’s not always possible, but it’s a great strategy when it can work. The above paragraph could have been written in past tense, e.g., “Dad drove me both ways.” It’s still a powerful sentence but it’s already over. When Dad “drives”, we’re right there in the car.

Kill the Adjectives and Adverbs

In his marvelous book about writing, The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman, he suggests that you go through your first page of writing (your whole essay, in this case) and circle every adjective and adverb. Then see if you can use a more descriptive noun or verb to make your writing crisper. He uses examples like substituting “he was a tyrant” for “he was a brutal man” or “he was sprinting” for “he was running quickly”. Try it. Your writing will be immediately refreshed by using fewer words to do the job efficiently.

Make the Introduction Inviting

The introduction invites your reader to keep going. This is not the place to summarize – why read the rest if you get the picture in the first paragraph? Instead, tantalize and encourage the next step. How? Use emotion, raise a question, create surprise with a surprising fact.

Here is a possible opening for a discussion of a student’s work with a literacy program.

I am a literacy volunteer. I did not decide to do this work because studies report that 21% of adults (over 40 million) in this country are functionally illiterate or because 43% of people with reading deficiencies live in poverty or even because 70% of people with reading deficiencies have no job or only a part time job. My reason for becoming a literacy volunteer was much simpler. My Dad couldn’t read.

Okay, I’m hooked. I didn’t really know how bad the literacy problem is but, even more, now I need to know if this person was able to teach her Dad to read and how this person, with an illiterate parent, made it to the point of applying for a scholarship and heading for college.

Create Workable Transitions

Transitions are hard whether you are writing a speech, composing an essay or trying to get your little brother to go to bed. The trick is to show your reader where they are going next and why it’s a logical next step. Try not to use standard transitional phrases like, “Secondly” or “As a consequence”. Try repeating the prior thought and connecting to the next task. For example, “Once I learned how to scale rocks on the artificial rock face, I needed to try out my skills on a real mountain.”

A Compelling Conclusion

As in the introduction, don’t summarize. Essays are too short to need a review at the conclusion. Instead, re-emphasize the main point or circle back to the beginning and tie the loop. Consider the literacy introduction. The body of the essay should have been about the student, her efforts as a volunteer, her feelings about the difficulties faced by those who can’t read, her recognition of the gift that reading is and her decision to pursue a teaching career as a result of her experience. This story begs for a conclusion that answers the question, “Did her Dad learn to read?” Some possibilities.

Dad may never read Dostoyevsky but we are both thrilled that he can now read his sister’s letters from his hometown in Romania and doesn’t have to pretend to read the newspaper anymore.

Dad never did learn to read. But through his struggle, I learned that I want to give the gift of literacy to others, the gift that no one has been able to give to my Dad.

Very different endings but in each, we hear the effect that the experience has had on the writer. That’s the point. We gained insight into this woman’s life through her writing.

Take a Breather

After you write and revise your essay, you need to take a break from it so that you can return with a fresh set of eyes. It’s amazing how the sparkling prose you thought you wrote turns out to need a lot more work once you’ve gotten a little distance. Even more amazing is the realization that some of your writing is actually much better than you expected, now that you’ve followed some very standard writing rules.

Use Outside Readers

Ask people to read your essay and help you with honest feedback. Ask them what they liked most and least. Ask if the essay is written in a logical fashion with reasoning that is supported by examples or other proof. Ask your readers to correct typos, grammar, etc. Every new pair of eyes helps.

I’m Not That Interesting!

You don’t need to have an illiterate father or wage a battle against cancer to write an interesting essay. The guy who is working at Wal-Mart probably feels that he doesn’t have time to be interesting; he’s too busy working! Everybody’s life has interest and every essay topic can be made compelling by looking at how that topic affects the human condition and how you fit into that human condition.

Congratulate Yourself

The essay is by far the most difficult part of the application. You have overcome the biggest obstacle to applying for a scholarship.

Scholarship Essay Two

Scholarship Essay Two


Nothing in all the world is comparable to reading Ayn Rand beneath New York’s skyline or to studying Nietzsche atop a mountain summit.

Since childhood, the studies of philosophy and science have interested me profoundly. Having read many books on relativity, quantum mechanics, existentialism, religion, capitalism, democracy and post-Aristotelian philosophy, my quest for knowledge has only intensified. Certainly, the purpose of my life is to discover a greater understanding of the universe and its people. Specifically, I plan to better grasp the interrelationship among forces, matter, space, and time. In addition, I hope to find a unified field theory and a convincing explanation for the birth of the universe.

During the summer of tenth grade, I took a number theory course at Johns Hopkins University with students from Alaska, California, and Bogota, Colombia. My attendance of the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences is another accomplishment that exemplifies my dedication to knowledge. During the summer following eleventh grade, I took courses in molecular orbital theory, special relativity, cognitive psychology, and I participated in an astrophysics research project. For my independent research project, I used a telescope to find the angular velocity of Pluto. With the angular velocity determined, I used Einstein’s field equations and Kepler’s laws to place an upper bound on the magnitude of the cosmological constant, which describes the curvature of space and the rate of the universe’s expansion.

In addition to learning science, I recently lectured physics classes on special relativity at the request of my physics teacher. After lecturing one class for 45 minutes, one student bought many books on both general and special relativity to read during his study hall. Inspiring other students to search for knowledge kindles my own quest to understand the world and the people around me.

Also, as president of the National Honor Society, I tutor students with difficulties in various subject areas. Moreover, I am ranked number one in my class, and I am the leading member of the Math Team, the Academic Team, and the Model Congress Team. In the area of leadership, I have recently received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award from a local rotary club and have been asked to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and the Constitution in Washington D.C. Currently enrolled in Spanish 6,I am a member of both the Spanish Club and the Spanish Honor Society.

As student council president, I have begun a biweekly publication of student council activities and opinions. Also, the executive board under my direction has opened the school store for the first time in nearly a decade and is finding speakers to speak at a series of colloquia on topics ranging from physics to politics. Directing fund raisers and charity drives also consumes much of my time. For instance, I recently organized a charity drive that netted about $1,500 for the family of a local girl in need of a heart transplant.

Consistent with my love of freedom and my belief in democracy, which is best summarized by Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, I have recently initiated an application to become the liaison to the local board of education. Also, in keeping with my belief that individuals develop strong principles and ideology, I teach Sunday school three months a year and have chaperoned for a local Christian school.

Outside pure academics and leadership roles, I lift weights five times a week for an hour each day. In addition, I play singles for my school’s varsity tennis team. Because I find extraordinary satisfaction in nature and have dedicated my life to its understanding, I enjoy mountain climbing. Among the notable peaks I have reached are Mt. Washington, Mt Jefferson, Mt. Madison, Mt. Marcy and Mt. Katahdin. Unquestionably, my life’s aim is to dramatically raise the height of the mountain of knowledge so that my successors may have a more accurate view of the universe around them.