Chapter 5Be 5 Percent Smarter

Every year, my company gives out several scholarships to deserving students from the high school I graduated from. I do this for several reasons, but one big reason is that giving back to your community is just as important as the hard work someone puts in to become successful. In other words, giving back is a very critical key to long-term success.

Every year, I am utterly amazed at the applications we get. Many of these students have higher than a 4.0 GPA, which I didn't even realize was possible, because of taking AP classes that reward you with an extra point on the scale for the effort. It all made ruling out applicants a very difficult task. But what makes it easier is the students who just filled out a quick form and sent it in without spending the time to fill out the application properly. I immediately eliminate them from potential recipients of the scholarship.

Then when I look at the actual remaining contenders it becomes very difficult to choose. All of these students are at the top of their class, all of them participate in extracurricular activities, and many of them also play a varsity sport. But what I look for is the little extra effort in their application, and that usually is in the form of an essay or letter. When the students write a letter explaining why they deserve the scholarship or explaining a possible anomaly in their transcript, it really helps me decide. We usually give only two scholarships each year, but last year ...

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