Some of you are feeling the heat. You have no choice but to make sure your family earns scholarships to pay for college, or student loans will be your only other option. If this sounds like you, keep reading.

Are you a Potato, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

Once upon a time, a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen.

He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

He then let them sit and boil without saying a word to his daughter.

The daughter moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners.

He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl.

He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her he asked, “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.

He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs, and the coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

How to Conquer the Scholarship Pressure You’re Facing

I’m sure you didn’t expect to feel as much pressure as you are right now.

[info-box type=”success”]Real Talk: Did you think it would be a little bit easier than what it is? I did too. I thought it would be a matter of answering a couple of questions by simply writing my thoughts. I was wrong.[/info-box]

Going after scholarships each day requires motivation. It’s not easy.

The hardest thing is not allowing your feelings to negatively influence your scholarship process.

Harvard Medical School published an article on the effects of expressive writing on stress levels. Essentially, expressive writing helps people to organize their thoughts and construct meaning when it comes to certain traumatic or unexpected life events.

Writing did help me overcome a lot of the traumatic events that occurred senior year. It helped me get extremely clear on why I wanted to go to college and what it meant for me and my family.

That’s what I want you to think about here. Really connect to the meaning of college for you. Tap into your stressed thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

  • Write that you’re stressed because your mom is pulling from her retirement.
  • Write that you’re scared of student loans and the horror stories you’ve heard.
  • Write that you’re frustrated that FAFSA didn’t give you one dime to go to school.


Put those emotions on the page.

It doesn’t mean you have to submit these thoughts to a committee, but hopefully, it will put you in a creative space where you can fully express yourself.

Be the coffee beans that transform the situation into something positive.

Developing a Winning Scholarship Mindset

Your mindset is one of the most important scholarship assets you have.

You see, if you believe that you won’t earn a scholarship – you won’t.

If you believe that you can, it will make a tremendous difference in the “essence of you” that’s presented to the committee through your writing.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

Before helping my students with scholarships or even working on my own, a few moments are set aside to get into a state of positivity.


Because you want to write in an upbeat, enthusiastic, and confident tone. You want the committee to undoubtedly feel as though they are making the correct decision by selecting you as the winner. If you’re lacking confidence, certainty, or resolve, your writing will not be as powerful.

Students get too caught up in the first draft and worrying about things that don’t matter at this point of the application process.

Who cares about grammar, syntax, and flow? That stuff doesn’t matter in the beginning.

I’m going to tell you the same thing that I tell them:

“You can do this. Breathe. Just write.”

Change the words to: “I can do this. Breathe. Just write.”

Repeat this before you begin any scholarship work.

To be honest, you can use whatever language you’d like…just make sure it gets you in the mindset to win.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Your mindset is everything when it comes to winning scholarships. #OwnYourDegree” quote=”Your mindset is everything when it comes to winning scholarships.”]

The only way you’ll ever get over the stress and pressure is to deal with it head on.

Figure out why you’re stressed, embrace it, write about it, and use it to push you.

If I can do, I know you can do it.


Breathe again.

Just write.

Feature Image Artwork Credit: iStockPhoto/Altayb

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