The scholarship essay is one of the most important components to your application – no pressure.
It enables the scholarship committee to get to know you a little better but also to assess your intelligence, maturity and ability to represent the scholarship or foundation’s mission.
While all of this may sound intimidating, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some advice and inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to crafting the perfect scholarship application essay.
First, and foremost, follow the directions.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a common mistake for applicants to skim the instructions and risk missing out on some vital information. Not to mention, some scholarship sponsors will throw the application out entirely if any of the directions are not followed. So answer the prompt, double-space (or single-space, if they ask!) your essay and stick to the maximum word count.
On a similar note, once your essay is completed, make sure it’s been proofread multiple times by yourself, one of your parents and a teacher or counselor. Another thing that can get your scholarship essay thrown out besides failing to follow instructions is a typo.
Second, be interesting.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to be the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest or a child prodigy on your way to finding the cure for cancer. You simply have to write an essay that showcases your passion and experiences with an air of authenticity.
Think about what excites you most in life at the moment – a complex algebraic equation that you finally figured out? Your afternoon theatre rehearsals? Last week’s big game? Or one of your parent’s abilities to overcome tough obstacles? Infusing your essay with passion and details about your experience will separate it from the others in that it seems to come alive.
Gather your thoughts with an outline or a recording of yourself talking; this will not only help you get organized but enable you to find some common threads within your experience or passion and essay talking points.
Finally, keep yourself honest.
Scholarship committees will read many essays, and one thing that will set your essay apart from others is authenticity. Many essays will attempt to be too philosophical or exaggerate the truth in order to make a point; and unfortunately for applicants, scholarship judges can see right through all of that.
You don’t have to go through a tragedy or accomplish something truly phenomenal to catch their attention. You simply need to be honest, provide concrete examples and infuse your essay with passion for the subject or prompt you’ve chosen to write about for your application. Good luck with your scholarship essay!
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Write about something you find interesting. Chances are, if you are passionate about a topic, you'll be able to write a more interesting essay about the topic.
If you find it difficult to write essays, try talking about the essay topic while recording the conversation. After you're done, transcribe the recording and edit it into essay form. This will give you a good start on your essay. The key to writing a good essay is to make it interesting, and the key to that is to write about something you are passionate about. Since the act of writing often interferes with the flow of ideas (most people can think and speak ten times faster than they can write or type), speaking into a tape recorder can help you capture your ideas and emotions better than staring at a blank piece of paper.
Try to find a unifying theme that binds together the threads of your background into a tapestry that shows not only where you have been and where you are now, but where you will go in the future. This will provide a sense of direction and cohesiveness.
This can have a big impact on whether you win the award. If your application is filled with vague and abstract answers, the selection committee doesn't have any way of evaluating your qualifications. Selection committees never accept an applicant's self-evaluation at face value. If you give them concrete examples, they can form their own opinion and cite those experiences and accomplishments as evidence in support of their opinion.
The only situation in which self-evaluation is appropriate is when you are writing about how an experience affected you. In such a situation you are the only source of information about your personal reaction. But do not limit the essay to how you felt about the experience. Instead, also talk about how it affected your future actions. By linking your feelings to concrete examples and actions, you allow the committee to judge how the experience affected you through a tangible result.