Each year, Flinn Scholars write letters of encouragement to the hundreds of students who start applications for the Flinn Scholarship, sharing with them reflections on their own application experience and what they’ve encountered in college. Here’s what third-year Flinn Scholar Spencer Elliott, who attended high school at Mountain Pointe in Phoenix, had to say.
My name is Spencer Elliott. I am currently a college senior studying economics and entrepreneurship. I accepted the Flinn Scholarship in the Spring of 2013.
Four years ago, I was in your place, preparing to submit my application and wondering if I was qualified enough to compete for, and win, the Flinn Scholarship. Almost everyone who applies for the scholarship wonders, at one time or another, if they are “worthy.” This sentiment is not exclusive to applicants – many Scholars believe that they were “lucky,” and that they were the exception that managed to sneak through the process. You are not alone. Whether you’re completely confident in your application, or you’ve found yourself in the midst of an existential crisis, I want you to know that you are qualified to complete the application.
As you work on your application, consider the following question: “What is the central, most important accomplishment that defines all Flinn Scholars?” The answer: They all finished and submitted the application.
I have seen dozens of intriguing, qualified students fail to complete the application because they believed that they would not be selected for the Scholarship. They self-selected. They didn’t even try. So as the final days before the submission deadline come and go, I want you to ask yourself, “What is it that I’m doing, right now, that is worth giving up $115,000 and the opportunity to change my life?”
Four years ago, probably like you, I was considering applying to a number of excellent elite universities and programs. My personal favorite was the University of Chicago, ranked #1 in the world at the time in economics. I was accepted by Chicago, and quickly discovered that the cost of attendance for me, including room and board, would total over a quarter of a million dollars.
Around the same time, I stumbled upon a very interesting statistical truth: A student who is accepted to an “Elite School” but chooses to attend a public university will be equally successful professionally as a student who attends the elite school. In other words, if you’re the top-quality, high-performing individual that can be accepted by a world-class institution, then you already have the characteristics that will lead to your eventual success.
But the Flinn Scholarship can take you even further. It offers you the opportunity to write your own ticket for success in any field. With immediate access to mentors, high-level faculty, experienced advisors, retreats, and travel abroad, the Flinn gives you hundreds of opportunities to excel among your peers at a nationally ranked university.
Four years ago, I considered my options. I turned to the economist within me and realized that I would much prefer an exceptional, personalized education for free than an exceptional, average education for more than a quarter of a million dollars.
Let me emphasize: You shouldn’t base your school choice on money or any other single factor. You should give yourself as many options as possible. And that’s what the Flinn Scholarship allows you.
But if you self-select by failing to complete and submit the Flinn Scholarship application, you will never have the option again. Finish the application and apply.
2013 Flinn Scholar