The Scholarship Sob Story Contest
Politics and Activism

The Scholarship Sob Story Contest

Celebrating hypersensitivity and alienating students with actual issues


Scholarships have the best of intentions: give money to students who need it. As there are so many college students and soon-to-be college students, and so little opportunities for people/companies to assist each and every student in furthering their education, scholarships aren’t just handed out like brochures. Acquiring free money that can be anywhere from $50 to a full ride often means that a student must show academic excellence, (generally a B average, at least), participation in ample extra curricular activities, (sports, clubs), community service experience, and leadership qualities obtained from any of the above. On top of these things, a well-written essay is also required in applying for most scholarships worth receiving.

"Why do you deserve this scholarship?", "How do you plan on using this money?", and "Why are you pursuing your major?" are some common questions. However, another monumental scholarship essay question is something to the effect of, "When is a time that you have overcame adversity and what have you learned from it?"

Enter, the sob stories.

The question is harmless enough, and those who give out the money rewards are fair in asking it. Overcoming tough times is quintessential to being a good student, reflecting a tough, "smooth seas don't make for skilled sailors" kind of mentality.

Some students have lost loved ones, faced homelessness, and beaten cancer. These are the kind of people meant for this type of scholarship, and I respect these people and the struggles that they have endured to get to where they are today.

But I'm here to talk about the people who have never been hungry, broke, or ill. The people that seem to always nab these scholarships, be it at your high school graduation or on the dozens of online scholarships you've applied for over the years, with their mock tragedies:

"My Mom Forgot To Pick Me Up At School Once And How I've Dealt With The Abandonment Issues That Have Come From Such A Harrowing Experience"

"How The Harmless, Pre-Pre Cancerous Mole I Initially Thought Was Cancer Made Me Realize I Was Strong"

"What Being Passive Aggressively Subtweeted By My Best Friend Taught Me About Finding My Voice"

Okay, they're not that horrible that they might as well be right out of the Odyssey Rejects Twitter page, but they're pretty bad: sprained elbows, divorced parents, and daddy issues—like we all haven't experienced those three things.

I've known people who have lost their houses to fires, physically watched members of their families die, and go through all sorts of pain because of poverty, illnesses, or their family members' addiction issues. Those are the people worthy of winning, and, seemingly, they never do.

Maybe it's wrong to point out that there are different levels of tragedy. I've often had more insightful friends suggest that just because the things I've experienced seem more painful to me than say, breaking a leg being the be-all, end-all, of my life, if I was privileged and lucky enough that a broken leg was the worst thing that ever happened to me, well, I'd think it was pretty bad.

I just find it perplexing, and, admittedly, annoying, to note that money is often given to such seemingly melodramatic applicants when other students who have gone through more authentic issues are left with nothing. People will nearly exploit themselves to be awarded money that will further their educations just to lose out to Jessica, the captain of the cheerleading team, who wrote about her 'crippling anxiety issues.'

Who knows, maybe Jessica's metaphors beat out the candidates who were nearly pressured into drug dealing to help put food on the table for their below the poverty line family and instead became valedictorian of their class, and that's fine; after all, the people giving out scholarships have the ability to give them to whomever they want.

I'm simply raising concern that such scholarship sob story contests celebrate hypersensitivity and alienate students who have faced actual issues, which, in scholarship sob story terms, would be a real tragedy.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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