I look forward to reading your essay. However, there is one reason you might not actually win. Over the years I have received literally thousands of applicants to my scholarships. I read essays almost every day in search for standout students. I am looking for students that are unique from all the other students who apply. Differentiation is the single most critical element for not only my scholarship, but also the college admissions staff.

Sports, music, volunteering and religion are the topics I see most often. Unfortunately, while these are all great things and I would never, ever discourage a student from pursuing any and all of them, they will rarely give a student what he or she needs to truly differentiate themselves from other applicants during the college admissions process.

In my book and my seminar I go into some detail about what I call an “NTA” or “Non Teenager Activity.” A good NTA will give you the differentiation you need to succeed. An NTA is any activity in which other teenagers are usually not engaged. Ask yourself one question: will lots of other students be writing about the same or a similar topic? If you even suspect the answer is yes you will need to take a different approach. If you wrote about sports, music, volunteering or “being a good person,” the answer is most definitely yes. I encourage you to apply for my scholarship, but tell me about how at least part of your life is spent doing something that other teenagers don’t do.

I wish you the best of luck winning my scholarship and getting into college. Sincerely, Mike Moyer Author of How to Make Colleges Want You and the College Peas DVD Seminar