Scholarships

If you live in America, it doesn’t matter what your political views are, what your views are on society, or what your favorite movie is, there is all one thing we can agree on.

College is freaking expensive.

As a freshly poor college student who is paying her own way 100% because my parental units are not able to pitch in, I know this all too well. I am prepared to be burdened with student loan debt until I am old and my complexion resembles that of a prune or raisin or an old person. But to help not have to sell my soul to Satan in order to pay back my loans, like most smart people I continually look for scholarships.

I. Hate. Scholarships.

When I submit an application, I imagine it gets sent to the bottom of a massive pile of papers sitting on the desk of some beady-eyed humaniod monster that wears glasses at the end of it’s long nose and has fingernails so long that it’s fingers never touch the papers. And this creature reads every last paper. Most humans would have at least a shred of pity for these poor students who were going to be bound down by the price of their university of choice and go “I do not want to pick just one. I want to give most of these people money so that they might have a brighter future.” But this creature is not a human, and it goes through the essays and applications and hopes and dreams of each human one by one and shreds them. All of them. And then, when it is done reading and shredding, it goes through the list of applicants and pokes the list at random with it’s ungodly long nail, and whatever names have marks from where the nail nearly shredded the paper, those people get the scholarship.

But what’s even worse is the “get x votes to be entered” scholarships.

These ones take me back to the 6th grade, when I was running for class representative in student council. I was running against a couple preps, a jock, and a very shy boy who very rarely spoke. I was confident in myself that I would win; I was smart, and I was overall fairly nice to everyone, even the “weird kids.”

I got a total of three votes out of a class of twenty five. I remember going home and crying to my mom because everyone had made fun of me when I made my speech and even the girl I thought was my closest friend didn’t vote for me. And I told her I couldn’t understand why no one voted for me, I was smart and I wasn’t in any clubs or on any sport teams, so I would never miss meetings. And my mom scooped me up and hugged me and told me, “It’s not because you’re not smart enough, sweetie. It’s because things like that are basically just popularity contests.”

And that’s all these scholarships are that you need to get votes. They are popularity contests. The prettiest girl in high school posts the link on her Facebook and suddenly she’s over halfway to her goal of votes.

What’s worse is the people who go through and vote based just on essays. You know what I’m going into? Writing. You know what isn’t going to make people go “yes, you are going to make a big impact on the world”? Writing. They’ll vote for people who will become doctors or scientists or something along those lines. People who are going into “real jobs.” They look at a writer whose family has gone to college for generations, who is Caucasian, who doesn’t have a sob story or an Overcoming Hardship story, and they go “next.”

Because in reality, people want heroes. They want someone from the bottom to make their way to the top, to change the world. They want cancer cured by a 20-year-old woman of color. They want a new planet that can sustain life discovered by a Mexican who just got out of college. And the only writers they want are writers who won’t tell their stories from the perspective of a “privileged white girl who grew up in the suburbs.”

I’d rather have the demonic creature shred my application and pray it picks me at random than let my future rest on a popularity contest.

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