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Should I write about alcoholism in my scholarship essay?



QUESTION: Is it wise to write a scholarship essay on beating alcoholism when the topic has to do with overcoming obstacles? It happens to be the hardest battle I've ever fought. I’m just afraid that the judges may not look favorably on me because of my previous problem. – Challenging Past

Dear Challenging Past: We understand your concern for writing about this topic because you will need to reveal weaknesses about yourself to an audience whose reaction you can’t predict. We believe you should feel nothing but pride about overcoming alcoholism. As all judges should understand how difficult it is to deal with this illness, it is an appropriate topic for scholarship essays. For essays on tackling a difficult situation, we recommend that you focus on what you’ve gained from the experience, how you’ve grown, and the lessons you’ve learned. In this case, you may want to discuss what instigated your desire to change, your recovery, or your current outlook on alcoholism. Remember that the purpose of scholarship essays is for the judges to learn something about you that is not captured in the dry facts about your achievements in the application form. For these kinds of essays, the actual obstacle that you select is not as important as how it has affected you. If you have a chance, please send us a copy of your essay when you are finished. We applaud your courage.


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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.