How I Nearly Threw Away $10,000 in Free Money

How I nearly threw away a $10,000 scholarship

Way back in high school, I tried hard to get 100% on all of my assignments and tests, and usually succeeded. When I didn’t, I figured out where I went wrong, got help, and tried harder. I also ended up doing really well on the ACT test.

So of course my parents encouraged me to apply for scholarships when it was time to think about college.

Excuses, excuses

Now scholarships weren’t as easy to find out about back then as they are now. There was no Google to search with, and there weren’t any scholarship web sites to check. Almost no one even had a (huge) PCs, let alone access to what’s now the Internet.

So uh, I didn’t want to apply.

Just looking for scholarships to apply for felt like too much work, never mind actually applying.

But after a lot of prodding, I did eventually trek down to my high school counselor’s offices to look through the book of scholarship information. I didn’t really see anything to apply to though. The scholarships seemed to be mainly for disadvantaged people, or athletes, or “leaders in the community”, and I wasn’t any of those things.

The truth was, there were plenty to apply to, but I didn’t look that hard because I didn’t feel like it. When I came across something I might have qualified for, I made an excuse as to why it wasn’t a match and flipped the page.

Basically, I didn’t want to be there, so I left.

My parents gave me a bigger push

Then one day my dad brought home a scholarship application from his work. He said I HAD to apply because I met the criteria. Then my mom hounded me for days until I finally did.


I had to write an essay! And fill out the form on my typewriter! And look up my grades! And get my transcripts, and ask teachers for letters of recommendation…

<< insert eyeroll here >>

So yeah, I ended up winning the scholarship.

A few minutes of work paid off

If it weren’t for my parents, I would have passed up TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS in free money because I didn’t feel like doing about 90 minutes of work.

(Also, I thought it would be a waste of time to even try, because I didn’t think I would win.)

That $10,000 paid for four years of in-state college, including things like books and parking — things that would cost about $45,000 at the same school today.

Who knows what I might have won if I’d gotten off my rear and applied to a bunch of scholarships.

Wishing isn’t enough

The weird thing is, I used to sit in class during my senior year hearing the scholarship recipients announced over the loud speaker, wishing they would say my name.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would give ME a scholarship,” I’d think wistfully.

Well duh! Scholarships weren’t going to just magically appear without me doing something to get them.

The same thing is true for everything you want in life too.

You can choose to make all the excuses in the book, or you can choose to do something — whatever it takes, for as long as it takes — to make the things you want happen.

One comment

  • I almost skipped out on a lot of scholarship money too. I automatically received the Academic Achievement one but I almost passed up the Spanish scholarship that one of my professors suggested since I didn’t think I could get it. It was literally a 1 page form, and of course my professor was right. Thank you Ms. Zabada!