You’re prepping for college and you have secured your transcripts, filled out the application forms, and completed all other necessary requirements save for one — you need to write a scholarship essay as part of the documents you have to submit. Writing an essay is perhaps the most challenging part of the application process because you need to come up with one that will set you apart from all the other scholarship applicants. But you can also look at it another way — it’s an opportunity to emphasize your achievements, capabilities, goals, and everything else that makes you a worthy candidate. The steps on how to write a scholarship essay aren’t all that complex — all you need is a bit of confidence, organization, and sincerity to get you through writing a convincing one.
What Is a Scholarship Essay?
Most scholarship opportunities include a scholarship essay among their requirements. A scholarship essay presents a brief background about yourself, your life experiences, and educational and career goals as well as the compelling reasons why you’re a deserving candidate for the scholarship that you’re applying for. While that seems like a lot to process, these are the reasons why it is important to know how to write a scholarship essay for it to serve its purpose.
Why Your Scholarship Essay Matters
Scholarships matter to students who are struggling to pay for school, but there are so many scholarship applicants to choose from. The task of deciding on the right recipient can be just as overwhelming for a scholarship committee — scholarship essays help them discern the best and most deserving candidates among hundreds (even thousands) of applicants. A scholarship essay will give the scholarship committee or donor a better idea of a candidate’s background and qualifications and help to determine whether he or she meets the criteria set by the committee. Donors invest in scholarships for a worthy cause and they want to make sure that they select only the best candidates for recipients. When you know how to write a scholarship essay, doing the task will be a lot easier.
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14 Tips on How to Write a Scholarship Essay
So now you’ve put yourself in the proper mindset to start writing your scholarship essay. It is important to know how to write a scholarship essay the best way so we’ve collated some helpful advice to guide you through the process.
01 Be Mindful About Following the Instructions Provided for Writing the Essay
Following instructions carefully is just as important as writing a substantive essay. Scholarship providers are usually precise when it comes to instructions. You wouldn’t want your well-written essay to be rejected on a technicality. After finishing your essay, go back and read through the instructions again to make sure that you have all bases covered. Revise or rework your essay if you missed out on any important instruction.
02 Give Yourself Ample Time to Write an Impressive Essay by Starting Early
It pays to start early because you’re giving yourself more than enough time to come up with a well-thought-out essay. This will also give you room to do some research — tap relevant resources online to guide you through the process of writing your essay.
03 Create an Outline to Organize Your Thoughts and to Base Your Structure From
Start with an outline to organize your thoughts before writing the essay. Think of the main points that you want to include in your essay, then organize them into three parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion. Put subheadings under each main category (if you need to) for a more sensible flow. Use the points on your outline as your guide as you go along writing your scholarship essay.
04 Align the Content of Your Essay with the Scholarship Provider’s Mission and Purpose
When it comes to scholarship essays, content is king. Scholarship providers are on the lookout for students who perfectly fit their criteria. Do thorough research on the scholarship provider’s mission, purpose, and the qualities they are looking for from an applicant. Highlight points on your interests and experiences which you believe are in agreement or harmony with the qualities that they are looking for. But don’t overdo it in such a way that you come across as trying too hard to please them. Your essay should still echo your voice and personality.
05 Make the Introduction Compelling
A strong introduction will encourage the scholarship committee to read through your entire essay. It should serve as an engaging preview of what’s coming. Don’t forget to mention your name and the scholarship that you are applying for at the beginning of your introduction. Follow through by briefly discussing your educational goals and what career you are planning to pursue after college or graduate school.
06 Write About Your Passions and Interests
It is important to engage and sustain the attention of the scholarship committee, so write about what interests you — write about what you know and what you’re passionate about. Doing so will give the scholarship committee a better idea of your unique qualities as an individual.
07 Be Clear, Concise and Straightforward with Your Language
Write an essay that’s comprehensible — avoid putting in convolutions which may detract from the objectives of your essay. Scholarship committees have a lot of essays to peruse and they won’t want to waste their time reading through complicated and unclear material. Write in a manner that will engage and encourage them to read through your entire essay. Practice unity, coherence, and development in each paragraph.
08 Share Something Personal
Share a personal realization or a unique story to make your essay memorable and genuine. Just make sure that what you’re sharing is relevant to the mission and philosophy of the scholarship provider you are applying to. Write about how you succeeded in overcoming obstacles and how you ultimately achieved your goals. You can also write about the lessons and realizations you’ve gleaned from the mistakes you’ve made. Keep the tone of your essay inspirational and optimistic.
09 Be Humble With Your Accomplishments
While mentioning your achievements may add to your credibility, try to be as modest about them as you can. Describe your accomplishments in such a manner that you do not come across as bragging about them.
Go beyond just saying that you need financial aid — every scholarship applicant is just as qualified as you are when it comes to financial need. Focus on the unique challenges and hardships that you are experiencing which make it difficult to pay for your education to give the scholarship committee a compelling reason to consider your application.
11 Finish With an Impactful Conclusion
Don’t just summarize what’s already been said. This is a part of your essay that needs to be just as compelling as your introduction. Perhaps you can echo an integral part of your introduction and then follow through with a fresh perspective about it such that it will tie all the things you’ve discussed together.
12 Ask for a Second Opinion
While not a lot of people take it well, constructive criticism really helps put things into perspective. Don’t get so attached to your work that you spare it from a second opinion. Ask advice and feedback from counselors, teachers, friends, or family members so you can improve on your weak points and be able to come up with a better essay.
13 Do a Thorough Scrub of Your Essay for Spelling and Grammatical Errors
The last thing you want is to turn in an essay with spelling and grammatical errors — the scholarship committee who will be perusing over it will definitely notice the mistakes. Proofread your work thoroughly (or have someone who’s good at editing do the task) before submitting it.
14 Rewrite or Re-Adjust Your Scholarship Essay if You’re Applying to Several Scholarship Providers
As long as you’re confident about what you’ve written, you don’t have to go through the whole process of writing another scholarship essay — work with what you have and do some tweaks and adjustments to differentiate it from the original.
How to Format a Scholarship Essay
Part of knowing how to write a scholarship essay is being able to structure it the right way. A scholarship essay is not just about content; you also need to format it properly.
Now that you have a better idea of how to write a scholarship essay, all you need to do now is to put these steps and tips into action.
Remember, it is important to start early when it comes to writing your scholarship essay — you don’t want it to come off as rushed and it will definitely show in your writing.
If you find yourself in a rut after writing the first draft, set it aside for a few days and give yourself time to brainstorm while you’re outside or doing something else. Allow your brain to marinate in order to form new and better ideas. Sometimes, sitting in front of a blank page on your computer doesn’t help. The best ideas often come when you are not under pressure.
After spending some time to give it more thought, re-read the initial draft you have written aloud. Doing so will give you a fresh perspective and will make you cognizant of which areas need improvement. Keep working on your essay while ideas are flowing — don’t hesitate, just write. It doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Most of that writer’s block comes from doubting yourself. You can still rewrite and revise the essay later on for better flow and coherence.
While it’s good to do research to find inspiration, do not plagiarize someone else’s work! The scholarship committee has members who check for plagiarism online. Plagiarizing will immediately discredit and disqualify your application.
After you’re done writing the first draft, go through it again and rewrite and revise as necessary. When you’re confident enough about what you’ve written, ask other people to read through it and ask for their feedback. Go through everyone’s comments while doing another reading of what you’ve written to see how you can incorporate their suggestions and recommendations without losing your own voice and personality in the process.
Check your work for length and make sure it fits two pages at the most unless the instructions specify otherwise. Do some more edits if necessary for clarity and brevity.
Make sure to save your work every time you make changes. When you’re done with the final draft, have someone edit and proofread it for grammatical and spelling errors. You can also use grammar-checking websites to give it a good scrub. Save a file of your work on an external drive or a thumb drive to make sure that you have a backup, just in case something goes wrong with your computer or hard drive. You wouldn’t want to do that essay all over again!
Read through all the instructions again to make sure that you’ve got all bases covered. If everything looks good, submit your scholarship essay and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
We hope that you found this guide on how to write a scholarship essay helpful. We wish you the best of luck on your application!
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