It pretty much never fails: Scholarship applications require essays. So, your friends at TruTeller.com have rounded up some tips to help you get started, meet deadlines and deliver clear and compelling statements.
“When you are faced with the challenge of scholarship essay writing, remind yourself that the effort you put into writing your essay represents the chance to sell yourself to the scholarship committee,” Scholarships.com explains. “A winning scholarship essay is one that truly sets a particular applicant apart from the others. If you tell your story clearly and persuasively, you just might find yourself receiving a congratulatory letter from the scholarship committee.”
Read the instructions. Then, read them again. Make sure you understand what is being asked of you before you start writing. If there is a word limit or there are requirements concerning things like page design and typeface, prepare to honor these rules — and plan accordingly.
Think about what you’re going to write, and organize your thoughts before you start. Once you’ve read those instructions, don’t feel pressured to deliver that essay the next day (unless it’s due the next day — a turnaround time we do not recommend). Give yourself some time to think about what you would like to say. Write some notes to yourself.
Begin the writing process with an outline. Time to take another look at all of your notes — and to try to arrange them into a main thought that is followed by a series of paragraphs to support it. Think of the first paragraph as the “what” of your essay. This is “what” you want people to know more than anything else. An example: “I want to study biology in college and know the XYZ scholarship offered by ABC would help me achieve what I hope will be my first major step toward entering medical school.” Then think of the next paragraphs supporting your “what” as the answers to “why” and “how.” Explain why you would like to attend medical school and how you know XYZ scholarship would help. Ask a parent, teacher, guidance counselor or some other good writer in your life to review your outline to see if it makes sense and flows well.
Use clear, concise and simple language throughout the essay. Don’t use two or more words when one will suffice. Write with active, not passive, verbs — so, for example, go for a structure like: “This scholarship helps students,” instead of “Students are helped by this scholarship.” Strike wordy phrases, such as “as well as” (you mean “and”) and “as soon as” (you mean “when”). And for crying out loud, skip the stodgy language, and write politely but conversationally. No one actually says, “thus” or “therefore” in conversation.
Make sure your grammar and spelling are impeccable. Let’s just say scholarships usually are awarded to people who don’t screw up these things.
State your accomplishments without coming across as if you’re bragging. You want to explain what sets you apart from your peers — but it’s important to convey your accomplishments with some humility. Consult with those trusted writers in your life to help you maintain an appropriate tone.
Read your essay aloud. If you stumble over a word or phrase or feel as if something is difficult for you to say in one breath, chances a good your readers will struggle similarly.
Read those instructions again. Are you sure your essay answers everything asked of you?
Get an editor. Everyone needs an editor — including the editors. Have someone you trust proofread your essay before you submit it.
Did you know October is College Application Month? Learn more here.