Imagine a world where it is possible to win an academic scholarship based on how many friends you have. Well, my friends, save that brain power you would have spent imagining because you do live in that world.
In a Google search for something completely unrelated to scholarships, I ran across an interesting little site.
I introduce you to CrossLites.
The organization, CrossLites, was built up around the figure of Dr. Charles Parker, a veterinarian with a love of people and a desire to inspire. In the name of this man, the group distributes free inspirational e-wallpapers and greeting cards, and funds scholarship contests for students attending high school, undergraduate and graduate programs.
Before I launch into a description of the scholarship contest, I’ll just clarify that I’m neither a capitalist nor a socialist. I believe in competition, and recognition of ability. I also believe that income disparity the likes of which most of the world knows and accepts (even passively, through ignorance or inaction) is fundamentally wrong and is one cause of our endless social problems. Scholarships and other forms of charity shouldn’t be necessary, but they are. It seems a shame that a person of ability should miss out on an opportunity to better herself for lack of money. Speaking for myself, my lengthy education was partially funded through a number of private, merit-based scholarships. I’m grateful for them. I’ve also worked on the other end of the giving cycle trying to generate funds for future students. Anyhow, the point of this sideline is to say that I support private giving and rewarding those with potential.
So who should receive scholarships?
I suppose, as a private citizen or non-government-based organization, if you want to give money away, you can just give it to whomever you please. It’s your money, after all. Not all scholarships are based on academic and/or intellectual accomplishment. Sometimes, they are given to those who are typically under-represented. Sometimes, they are given to those with financial need. Sometimes, they are given based on abilities other than academic ones. So, if you want to create a scholarship geared towards red-headed, female lawn-bowlers who wish to enter the field of particle physics, you are free to do so – just decide first whether you are willing to accept dye jobs as applicants
CrossLites has created its own scholarship. At first glance, you might think, “Great! An essay contest that will allow me to showcase my writing skills and ability to reflect on something meaningful in my life.” But it is not quite that. The score you receive from the panel of judges based on the quality of your essay is only 10% of the final score. What, pray tell, makes up the remaining 90% of the score that can lead you to successful recipienthood?
It is how many friends you have.
After you post your essay (actually, you can submit two), the judges will post your essay online with they score they have given you. Then, you can tell all your friends to vote for your essay. They tell us:
Each person could vote up to twice a day and the more votes a particular essay gets, the higher the likelihood is of the essay being selected to win. When the voting period has ended, the winner will be chosen.
Soooo, basically, you could submit something you wrote poorly, or much worse, asked someone else to write for you, and as long as your fan club is large enough and votes twice on each day of the voting period, you could win money to further your academic studies.
While I see no problem with these folks doing whatever the heck they want with their money, I just find the principle underlying this whole contest a little unsettling and superficial… on several levels. Perhaps, it just ruffles the feathers of the scholar, the hard worker, and the introvert in me. Nevertheless, I’d definitely be interested in hearing from anyone willing to go through the process of applying for this particular scholarship. Heck, I’ll even log in twice a day to vote for you and maybe even read your essay (!)
One other thing to note. This organization is very Christian. Values, morals, integrity, inspiration, and all that business. Anyhow, although they don’t say it in the rules, if you plan on entering this contest and if you care at all about the judges’ score, you might want to include something nice about Jesus. Then again, just being an extrovert might be enough.