January 29, 2014 - submitted by Ayesha, United States of America

Q. Dear Oracle,

It's that time of year again where I must search and search for scholarships and fellowships to help finance my higher education. They have the capacity to put me on track of the career choices I am bent on pursuing. This year I feel more confident being a college junior and having an excellent internship under my belt. However, I am not good at "selling" myself in my personal statements, and they are probably the most important parts of the applications. I've had to work two jobs for the past three years to help pay for college, so these scholarships could help me ease some financial stress off my shoulders. As I am somewhat lacking in imaginative writing skills, I am a bit worried about my chances. Do you have any advice on how to talk about myself and my potential under an imposed word limit while remaining honest and "myself" so to speak?

Many thanks,

The Oracle replies:

If you're so bent on your career choice, you will need to show confidence. Self-deprecation and humility aren't the way forward when you want to get ahead. I know it worked for Chris to a degree but in your case, you have to prove you want that place and are deserving of it more than someone else.
See this as your one shot - after all you only get one chance to make a first impression.
The key is to strike a balance as you don't want to be over confident - cockiness isn't attractive!
Here's what I suggest. Ask employers, colleagues, family, friends, peers & teachers if they're willing to say one positive thing about you. Compile these and work out a strategy of how to work them into your application.
Good luck.