My Kid is Average. How to Stand Out in College and Scholarship Essays

I hear it often. Parents and teens believe they have to have something extraordinary to gain college acceptance or to win private scholarships.

We live in a small town.”

”Nothing significant has ever happened for a “story” that is good or bad.”

” I have read my teen’s essays and they seem good but nothing like the students that have life changing events.”

They don’t have anything special. They didn’t start a non profit foundation. They’re average. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. (Most of the time)

"My kid's essays don't stand out! What can I do?"

First, chill. Not everyone is going to have some earth-shattering global impact project or has survived a deadly disease. Yet a large percentage of teens get accepted to colleges and win scholarships every year .

Colleges and scholarship committees aren’t looking for spectacular. They’re looking for the “real you.” (Your teen).

What are their values, character, and how does that play out in every day life or in their activities?

They want to know, when they hand them a check, that they know your teen. So the essay has to be personal. Not surface level.

When it comes to private scholarships, if your teen is choosing the right topics (for your teen), and knows what the scholarship committee is looking for, then in my experience, they should win 10-20% of the time. (In my Cracking the Code to Free College Course I show you how to find that unique quality in your child and 17 ways of finding scholarships that your teen has the best chances of winning.)

How do you know it’s right ones? There are 1.8 million scholarships. Applying to the right scholarships is key. Here’s why, by way of an example.:

When you read a book, the emotions the author had as he is writing comes through the page to the reader. So if your teen has no interest or doesn’t really care about the topic, then they are wasting their time. They won’t win. Period.

Again, they are not looking for life changing events. (Sure, of the 1.8 million scholarship opportunities there are a few that are looking for the one kid that started a school in a remote village. And occasionally, even when they are not looking for it, that one student will apply and might win.)

And remember they are looking for your teen in EVERY essay topic.

When a topic is to “write about someone you admire,” they don’t want to know about the person you admire. They want to know about you. How did that person shape who you are today.

Example- One student wrote how her grandfather taught her to dance. That was paragraph 1. The remainder of the essay talked about her. How she ended up teaching other kids to dance, and training them to compete, and how dance changed their perspective.

That essay won many scholarships with that essay or revamping it to fit other topics.

They are also looking for what event/moment changed your teen’s outlook or how they see a certain thing in a different way.

An essay on overcoming adversity doesn’t have to be earth shattering (cancer, loss of a sibling.)

One student wrote about losing a martial arts tournament after just earning his 1st degree black belt and his disappointment. Having to choose to continue in the sport or to quit. And what resulted after his decision. That essay also won multiple scholarships.

Writing essays for college admissions and scholarships is very different from what your teen has done throughout high school.

Want to know more about how Cracking the Code to Free College works? Let’sget on a call and see if it’s a good fit for your family.

For more info on the college admissions essay, check out this article: 

To Your Success,



Denise Thomas
Your Debt Free College Coach
“College Doesn’t Have to be a Debt Sentence.” ~ Denise Thomas

P.S. If you don’t have my 12 scholarship secrets checklist, grab it here. Check it before submitting ANY scholarship application.



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