Getting a scholarship is important to almost every student. The money you get from it can help you immensely by allowing you to stop working during your studies, which means you’ll have more time for school activities. This is also why the competition for scholarships is so fierce.
When you apply for scholarships, you need to write the best scholarship essay possible and win this competition. Writing admissions essays is a lot different from writing graduate school resumes or a college application. Most applicants, however, don’t really know the do’s and don’ts of scholarship essay writing and make some costly mistakes that can easily be avoided.
In this guide, we will divide the topic into three phases: planning, writing, and editing.
Without further ado, let’s go through some scholarship essay tips that will make your essay stand out from the rest.
Choose a Topic You Enjoy
The first thing you have to do when writing an essay is to choose a topic. Make sure the topic is something you are passionate about. A topic that is boring for you will set the tone of the whole essay and bore the readers. This is a very bad scenario considering that you need to impress the committee to win the scholarship
Make an Outline
Every good essay should contain an introduction, body, and conclusion. To save time and make the writing process easier for yourself, make an outline of the essay — that will help you get organized.
Think of any things you want to talk about and put them on a piece of paper, then rearrange them and cross them out as you finish writing about each thing.
Reuse Your Old Essays
Another easy way to write your scholarship application is to simply adjust your earlier applications. If you’ve already applied for different scholarships, you can change some things so that your essay fits the topic you are writing about.
You don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” for each individual application. Just make sure you change it enough so the new one doesn’t look exactly the same as the old one.
Check the website of the company granting the essays scholarship. Try to learn some of the details about them like their mission or the reason for giving this scholarship.
Many of those companies also feature previous winners on their websites, and sometimes even parts or entire essays that won. This can help you see what kinds of essays were accepted well by the committee.
Most of us like to procrastinate and leave everything for the last minute. This, however, can create a lot of problems and be detrimental to the quality of your essay. Of course, it will be bad if you submit something that looks like an unfinished version of an essay.
Therefore, always plan ahead and give yourself time to proofread and edit before you submit the paper.
This should go without saying, yet it is a tip that has to be included. Always follow the instructions and essay prompts when writing. Some applicants think that straying from these prompts makes them daring and brave.
However, if you ignore the instructions, the committee might think that you didn’t even check the guidelines or that you just don’t care. It is a mistake that is easily made, as well as one that can have serious consequences.
Know Your Audience…
If you’ve done your research in the planning phase, you should already know who you are writing for. Try to imagine a perfect candidate and see whether you possess some of the qualities they have.
This will make it easy for you to emphasize those traits and leave a good impression on the readers. This, however, also brings us to the next tip.
...But Don't Tailor Your Essay to the Reader
If you are writing to impress the committee, it is easy to lose yourself in the phantasy of what they are looking for. This essay is about you and you alone. You should write about your personality and experiences you had throughout life.
Outline the obstacles you’ve overcome and explain why that makes you the perfect candidate.
Straying from the topic can have an adverse effect on those who will read your essay. For that reason, you have to be concise and specific.
The words you choose have an immense effect on the readers. While it is encouraged to use evocative language, this can easily be overdone. Therefore, it’s better to be direct.
Read your essay aloud after writing it as that will help you with this task.
Strong Introduction to Grab the Reader’s Attention
A good introduction should be like a movie trailer. Tell them something about your life but don’t end the story there. The best way to draw the audience’s attention is to make them wonder what comes next.
Of course, they will get that answer later in the paper, but keep them wondering for now. Starting your essay like this is a good way to keep them interested in what you are going to talk about.
Almost every student considers using quotes from famous people in their scholarship essay. While this is a proven tactic, it has been overused lately. Try picking up a few essays by different authors and you will see that nine out of ten include quotes. Students try to show that they share opinions with smart people but this can bore the reader. Try to stay original.
This is a bit tricky to do, but when done right, it can create a strong connection between the author and the audience. This bond is very important, as you are more likely to be accepted if the audience can put themselves in your position.
Don't Tell, Show
Telling someone about your positive traits can be a bit boring. You also run a risk of being seen as a very arrogant person, which can make the audience like you less.
Instead of that, try using real-life examples and stories about your life that show your traits. This will create a strong connection between you and the people you are trying to impress.
Some people feel the need to embellish their stories by adding details that never happened. Unless you are a world-class liar, there is a big chance the audience will see through those lies.
It is hard to describe something we didn’t really experience. Therefore, talk only about the things that really happened to paint a picture of your personality.
Talk About Hardships You Overcame
No one wants to sponsor a quitter. The best way to show that you aren’t one is to talk about hardships and obstacles you overcame. Explain how you overcame it and what you learned from that experience.
This will show that you are a resilient person and a good problem solver, which is what most of these companies are looking for.
Always Stay Humble
When you apply for a scholarship, it is expected of you to list your accomplishments. Even though it might be difficult, try not to sound like you are bragging.
When you reread the things you have written, try to put yourself into your audiences’ shoes and give your personal opinion on the writer. If it sounds like you are bragging, rewrite the passage until you are satisfied.
Using colloquial language and slang should be avoided unless it is used effectively. Try to keep your essay professional while still being you. Also, it should be considered common sense that swearing has no place in a paper like this.
Tell your story and show that you are an educated citizen who deserves the scholarship money.
Avoid Boring Conclusions
When writing a conclusion, the easiest thing to do is summarize the whole essay in a few lines. Doing this is very boring for the author, as well as the reader.
Try thinking outside the box and doing something unexpected and innovative. You don’t want your audience to doze off in the last part. Keep them captivated from the first to the last word.
Keep a Positive Tone
Since you are writing about yourself, it is very likely you will describe some unfortunate events that happened in your life. When you do that, try keeping the whole thing lighthearted and positive. Treat those situations as something that gives you valuable experience because no one wants to read a sad and depressing story.
Take a Break
After a long day of writing, you just want to stand up from your chair and never look at the computer screen again. However, that’s not the best strategy.
Instead, try taking a walk and rereading the article again once after you’ve rested. The short break you took will refresh you, which can lead to new ideas for the content you wrote. You can then rewrite the passages you weren’t satisfied with the first time.
Check Spelling and Grammar
Always remember to double-check spelling and grammar. Failing to notice mistakes will make you look unprofessional and uninterested. Applications such as Grammarly can help you avoid these situations by checking your spelling and grammar for you.
Always Ask for Advice and Feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask others for feedback. Other people can notice things you’ve missed, which can help you improve the overall quality of your essay.
If you don’t have anyone you can turn to for this, there are a lot of professional writing services online that can proofread and edit your papers for you - even write new ones from scratch.
Scholarship Essay Example
Q: Why should you be selected for a scholarship? Please describe any academic achievements, community service activities, examples of leadership, or other personal characteristics that make you deserving of this scholarship?
I believe I deserve to be selected for one of your foundation’s scholarships because as a hard working student I commit myself to effectively take advantage of the opportunity that the scholarships will provide me. Besides, I am a student that does not only persistently works hard academically, but also I constantly try to improve my own community's quality of life by doing volunteer work.
I believe education is the key to success, and I try to connect my passion for education with my desire of helping others. As a result, I decided to be part of the establishment of a non-profit organization named Scholarships A-Z, which provides college educational resources to parents, educators and students regardless of immigration status. Along with other college and university students and advisors, we decided to unite and create such an organization in order to establish a more educated community about the steps needed to take in order to attain a higher education. As a board member of the organization, my responsibilities consist of planning and organizing educational discussions about immigration at conferences and high schools, doing research about scholarships for students regardless of immigration status, updating a scholarship list on the ScholarshipsA-Z website, and translating any ScholarshipsA-Z documents including a 60-page student resource guide. I believe that education should be a right not a privilege, and when I see that students are being denied the right of acquiring a college education, I feel the need to take action. Consequently, this is the major reason why I decided to be an active member of Scholarships A-Z.
On the other hand, there are other leadership roles that I played in community organizations. From 2009-2010, I was a programming intern for a leadership program at the university where I organized and planned social events for student participants. In addition, I was the Student Government Vice President at my community college where I organized social, cultural and community service events for the campus, and led group discussions about social justice as a project facilitator for an anti-discrimination club. Prior to this, I was the Community Service Chairperson for the Student Government, and was in charge of organizing community service activities for the campus including blood drives and a monthly cleanup of local neighborhood streets.
I am grateful to find opportunities like the one that your foundation is providing to students like me who are constantly fighting for the right to receive an education. I remain persistent and will keep working hard until I reach my career goals. I am hopeful to become one of your foundation’s scholarship recipients, so that I can continue on my pathway to become a doctor.