Overcoming the “Comparison Game”: Lauren’s Success Story

Entering Grade 12, Lauren was overwhelmed and felt like there was no way she could compare to top scholarship winners. Here’s how she used her uniqueness as her strength and won over $80,000 in scholarships.

Written by Adam Griffiths and Lauren Janssen

The rush of Grade 12

The beginning of Grade 12 felt like a rush filled with excitement, nervousness, and a very packed schedule. My days consisted of running from school to volleyball practice, to coaching, to volunteering, and then studying until 12am most nights all while trying to enjoy my last year of high school. And then oh yeah… scholarships.

With such a busy schedule, scholarships always fell to the bottom of the priority list. To say Grade 12 was overwhelming is an understatement. 

I felt like I was drowning when it came to navigating scholarships and university applications. As an only child, neither my mom nor I knew what to do when it came to applying to universities or scholarships.

Joining GrantMe’s Academy program put me at ease. I knew they were experts when it came to this process and would guide me through it.

The comparison game: “There’s no way I could win any big scholarships, I’m not like them”

After starting the scholarship process I quickly became discouraged after reading online profiles about the accomplishments and community work of students who won major scholarships.

As a competitive athlete, most of my extracurriculars and volunteering involved sports. I didn’t feel like I had done “enough” to win a scholarship because most of my activities were sports-related.

When I looked at myself and my experiences I thought, “there’s no way I could win this. I haven’t done anything close to what they have done.” I even said this to myself about a scholarship I would later go on to win. 

Your uniqueness is your strength, not your enemy

One of the biggest lessons I learned from GrantMe and through my scholarship journey is that you don’t need to have cured cancer or built villages in Africa to win big scholarships. It’s all about taking your experiences and writing to them.

I learned I didn’t need to have done exactly what someone else did. As someone who has always excelled in everything I did, nothing could have prepared me for the shock of my first edits. I learned how to take my experiences and powerfully write about my leadership, what I learned, and the impact I created. I learned to be authentic and stay true to what I valued instead of writing to what I thought they wanted to hear.

Through GrantMe, I learned how to present myself and my experiences to scholarship committees. Without them, my essays would have been just another generic and basic application. 

It was more than just a program

GrantMe connected me with other like-minded students and made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I was able to talk with other dedicated Grade 12 students who were just like me and wanted to achieve financial freedom. This motivated me and helped me to refocus when I let myself slide. It also gave me a solid support network and a group of students to relate to.

On webinar calls, it was comforting to know that other students were also experiencing the same stress, periodic lack of motivation, and overwhelming responsibilities. It made me feel like, “okay this is okay, I’m not the only one.”

In addition, the mentors were people I could look up to because they had been through the same process just a year ago and came out with success. Their advice always came from a place of understanding and with the message, “don’t worry, I’ve been there too and you will get through.” Through mentorship and webinar calls, I kept myself motivated and educated myself on upcoming scholarships.

I also became equipped with resources and skills to become a better student and person. I learned how to hold myself accountable, own up to my actions, know my “why”, and practice time management and anti-procrastination skills. In the process, I also gained valuable tools such as Google Calendar and the app “Flora”.

Short story long, GrantMe did not just improve my writing abilities and applications but also equipped me with the skills to be a successful student.

My scholarship success secret: Grit

I wish I could give you a list of things to do and then all of a sudden you become a big-ticket scholarship winner. But there isn’t. Everyone’s journey is unique and different, but there is one thing everyone shares, and that is “Grit”. The scholarship process is a long and tiring journey that many give up on, but my biggest secret to success is to work hard and don’t give up. I believe it is those who have the perseverance, determination, and grit who find success.

I remember looking at the massive application for the Western University National Scholarship. The deadline was in three weeks and I hadn’t even started. I was so close to quitting and not even applying for it. But I am gritty and determined and I pushed through. I wrote that application with the flu, a cold, and pink eye on my birthday. I stayed home from school and was up till 12am most nights editing it with my mom.

Now although I don’t recommend this, my message here is that it’s not supposed to be easy or pretty. It takes a lot of grit and the ability to persevere even when you don’t believe in yourself. 

I am confident I would not be where I am today without the support of GrantMe.

The day I received the call from Western University that I had won a scholarship, I vividly remember running down the stairs and crying in my mom’s arms.

After winning $80,000 in scholarships, I will be attending Western University to study Health Sciences.

With this support, I plan to pursue a career as a medical doctor and work in global public health and women’s rights.

I cannot express how immensely grateful I am for the support I received from GrantMe. I do not believe I could have done it without them.

Lauren Janssen is a 2020 GrantMe Academy program alumnus and a current GrantMe Mentor.

If you want to achieve success like Lauren, GrantMe can help. We provide personalized scholarship matches, essay editing, and mentorship from past winners to maximize your success. Complete our short scholarship eligibility quiz to learn more about how GrantMe can help you achieve your post-secondary goals.

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