Applying for college takes a lot of effort. Each applicant must go through a long and thorough process that includes completing university and financial aid applications and writing college admission and scholarship essays.
Winning scholarship essays share a certain quality: a distinctive style employed by the author and a unique insight into the author’s past, present, and future. The unique style is key. Demonstrating your passion, personalizing your essay, and making it stand out is what catches the judge’s eye and ultimately defines a winner.
How To Start
The first step to any writing is to read the prompt. Scholarship essay prompts are very tricky, so you should read and re-read it multiple times to identify key themes.
Here is an example of a scholarship essay prompt:
- To be considered for the Scholarship, you must submit an essay of 400-500 words. Your submission should illustrate your perspective on what makes a successful leader of global business and consider the following questions:
- What makes a good global leader? Explain how you have demonstrated these attributes.
- What are your career aspirations?
- From these words, “leader,” “perspective” and “aspiration” jump out the most. A good rule of thumb is to add the word “unique” and “you” to these words.
- What are your unique aspirations?
- What makes you a unique leader?
- What unique perspective can you bring?
In scholarship essays, you are, in essence, convincing someone to sponsor you and give you money. You need to illustrate why you are worthy of their sponsorship and why you, out of all people, should be the one receiving the money. Let’s get down to business and find out how to write it.
Grab the Attention
You need to remember that you should never undervalue the importance of a strong introduction, especially when it comes to the opening line. Look at these examples and see if you can notice the difference.
Example 1: Being unique is very important for business.
Example 2: June 23, 2003, was the day I almost died.
Let’s analyze. Example 1 is imprecise and tedious. However, the second one is intriguing, catchy, and particular.
If you don’t grab the attention of the judges, they will simply mark your essay as “same as all the others” and move on to others.
Make your first sentence thrilling. This will make your essay stand out from the herd of sheep.
Re-adapt and Re-use Your Essay
There is no need to spend hours and hours sweating over writing a different essay for every scholarship competition you enter. From time to time, scholarship essay topics can be alike. So, with a bit of effort and small corrections, one scholarship essay can easily fit the requirements of several other scholarship contests.
Be Unique In Your Writing
For example, if the question is: “ Who in your life has had the biggest impact on you?”. Most of the time people will write about their parents or other relatives.
You should not jump into writing as soon as you read the question. Think about it wisely; maybe someone like Steve Jobs or Nelson Mandela has had the biggest influence on you. Of course, it is not traditional, but at least it’s more engaging.
Write According To The Rules
Do not write over the limit. Your main goal is to give the admission officers what they want because big money is at stake.
They are reading thousands and thousands of scholarship essays. They definitely do not have enough time to read about your pet aquarium fish Joey (unless it helps you to show the main point). Make sure that your essay has one clear point and then revolve the rest of writing around it.
Check Your Writing for Errors
Do you think that judges want to read all the scholarship essays they receive? Of course not. They are looking for some reasons to kick some essays out of the big pile. You should not give them a reason to kick yours.
Make An Outline
Usually, your scholarship essay outline will be something like this:
- Introductory Sentence
- State your full-name
- State the name of the scholarship you are applying for
- What has been a significant challenge in your life?
- How did you overcome this?
- Educational And Career Goals
- What are your current educational goal(s)?
- Why did you choose this particular college?
- Why did you choose this field of study?
- How will a scholarship help you achieve your educational goal?
- What are your long-term career goal(s)
- What will you do with your degree?
- How will the scholarship help you in achieving your long-term career goal(s)?
- Briefly interweave your story together
- Restate how the scholarship will help you to attain your goals
The difference between an excellent scholarship essay and a bad one stems from a lack of confidence. Keep in mind that the person reading your essay wants to give out money. Show the reader that you know who you are and that your past and present experiences are valuable and will make a positive impact on the future. Ask yourself if you’re the person you want to be. If the answer is yes, write about who you are today and what brought you here; If the answer is no, write about how you intend to get there.
Why You Deserve It: Topic
“Deserving” something is a broad concept. Most likely, there are going to be people who deserve scholarship money more than you, but if their essay isn’t as good as yours, then they won’t be the winners. The key here is to explain to the reader what makes you different from other applicants in a memorable and articulate way.
Do's And Dont's
- DO follow a narrative structure. Tell a personal story of your experiences.
- DO outline your essay beforehand. While outlining, make each part of the thematic keywords its section of the essay.
- DO research where you’re applying and make sure you’re suitable and match the qualifications.
- DO make yourself sound like a success story. Mention problems and weaknesses as stepping stones that made you the person you are today.
- DO use spellcheck and grammar check on your computer but also ask someone to read over your essay and proofread your grammar. Even better if it’s multiple people. Proofread it as many times as you can.
- DO use real-life examples in your essay to back up your argument as to why you would receive the scholarship.
- DO follow the prompt and the instructions exactly how they appear.
- DO be clear and concise. Simple sentences and straightforward ideas are always your friends.
- DO include transitions between paragraphs to keep the writing eloquent.
- DON’T use words from a thesaurus that are new to you. There is a high chance you are misusing that word in some way. Implementing perplexing lexicon does not win you plus points.
- DON’T be generic. Personalize your essay as much as you can.
- DON’T open your essay with a quote. This is the most ineffective way to write an essay for a scholarship. Use your words and avoid cliches (like the plague).
- DON’T start your sentences with anything like “In this essay, I will... ”. In fact, don’t do that in any piece of writing. Transitions like “In conclusion,” or “First I’m going to talk about” also have no place in your scholarship essay.
- DON’T restate your resume. Always tell a unique story.
- DON’T say how much you need or want the money. There are always going to be people who need it more than you. Instead prove that you’re the one who deserves it.
How To End
The ending of your scholarship application essay is the most important part of the piece. First and foremost, you need to restate the thematic keywords and summarize your experience into a gist. However, this can’t be it; this is the part of the essay that the reader will remember. There are several ways to conclude your essay in a powerful way. Here are a few strategies and examples:
- The Cycle: If you introduced a certain idea in the paper introduction, then you can bring the idea back for a satisfying effect. For example, if your essay is about your passion for veterinary services, a cycle essay would go something like this:
- (Introduction): When I was a little boy, I had a dog called Perry.
- (Conclusion): If I become a vet, maybe I can save another little boy's, Perry.
- Not only is this very effective, but it also makes the reader feel like an insider. They are instantly more connected to the essay they are reading.
- The Future Tense: In this type of conclusions, the future tense is the way to go. If your essay is about your past or present experiences, then talking about how those experiences shaped what you will do with your in the future is a good strategy. Here is an example of the last sentence of an essay:
- In the future, I plan to use this valuable knowledge of content marketing in other types of business.
- The Reflection: This third type of conclusion is perfect for demonstrating personal growth and presenting your weaknesses as stepping stones. Here is an example:
- Although working at my experience with archery was shot in the dark, but I persevered and learned countless valuable lessons. Today I am able to shoot with better aim.
Even before starting your essay, make sure you follow a rule of thumb when formatting your essay:
- Double spaced
- 12 point Times New Roman font
- 1” margins (top, bottom, and side)
- Each paragraph should start with an indent
- Insert your last name and page number (for longer essays) on the top left
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
When it come to scholarship essays, it is incredibly hard to stand out. I have four pieces of advice for you to consider before you embark on your writing journey. My first piece of advice is to know your audience really well. Every scholarship provider is looking for a particular type of student. When you’re dissecting the application essays, look at the questions closely. What are they emphasizing? My biggest tip for you is not to get lazy and write a template essay. My second tip for you is to start your essay early. The sooner you do it, the better. Even in your brainstorming stages, make your writing personal and passionate. My last tip has to do with the editing stage of writing. Make sure you pick your editor wisely but don’t let them edit the original document. Some of their changes, you might not want to keep. The article states some great do’s and dont’s. Another do that I would add, is to start way before the application is due. A don’t that I would like to contribute is to not over-edit your essay. This will make it sound stale and voice-less.