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The Scholarship Essay: write to Lupin, not to Snape

Students can find it difficult to write scholarship essays, and for a few reasons.

One common problem is they feel weird writing about their accomplishments. Some teens feel like they’re bragging and are so uncomfortable with it, they can’t get past it to start, or finish, writing their essay.

But the whole purpose of the application is to demonstrate your successes. Now is not the time to be humble!

Here’s a quick tip to help your child get over the uncomfortable feeling of writing about accomplishments:

Have your child think about someone—an adult—who likes them, and who encourages them. An adult who is, or who has been, supportive of them in some way. This person could be a favourite coach, a school teacher, a music teacher, a church member, a friend’s parent, or an aunt or uncle. Ask them to choose just one person who fits this description.

Now, tell them to write their essay with that person in mind. Write as if they are writing to that one person, and that person is smiling at them, and encouraging them.

Many scholarship committees are made up of these kinds of people. Most scholarship readers want to hear success stories, and they want to help students.

I think sometimes students imagine a mean spirited, highly critical person is reading their essay, when in fact, it’s probably someone more like their favourite teacher or coach. More Remus Lupin than Severus Snape.

Photo credits Harry Potter Wiki:

So when your child needs a little encouragement, write to Lupin, not to Snape.

I hope this tip helps your student get past their writing roadblock, and get on the road to winning a scholarship.

Best wishes!

Want more information and advice about scholarships? Check out my services.

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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