One of the most time-consuming parts of any scholarship application is the essay question. Many (if not most) scholarships require at least one essay, so it is a good idea to put forth your best effort in your writing. Here are some ways to make a great first impression in your scholarship essays.
- Do your research. Believe it or not, you can prepare some aspects of your scholarship essays in advance. Many scholarship applications will request that you summarize your future plans, your personal achievements, or your background. Start by checking out this website for some common essay topics.
- Make templates. Now that you have some essay prompts in mind, write a short (300-500 word) essay on a couple common topics. Write about your goals during and after college, write about someone who inspires you, and write about some of your accomplishments. If you have some of this information down in advance, it will be a lot easier to pull an essay together for a scholarship application.
- Tailor your essay to the specific scholarship(s). Now that you have a few sample essays ready, you should be able to just print and submit, right? Sorry, no such luck. It’s extremely unlikely that your sample essays will perfectly match a given essay prompt on a scholarship application. So what was the point of the templates, you ask? Well, once you find some scholarships that you want to apply for, read the essay prompt carefully and consider what elements of your templates may fit this question. Unfortunately, your templates may not match at all and you may have to start from scratch, but often you will be able to find sections or ideas of your templates that can be incorporated into a specific scholarship essay. The good news is, you can keep all the scholarship essays that you write to increase your ‘template pool.’
- Tell a story clearly (and concisely). Scholarship essays can be as short as 200 words or as long as 1,000 words (or more!) depending on the scholarship application. It is important to follow the word or page limit set in the instructions. Keep in mind, your scholarship essay can be excellent and still not answer the question. Be sure to answer the question!! Your essays are a chance for the scholarship committee to get to know you, so be sure to paint a clear and interesting picture of yourself. How can you do this? Well…
- Get a second (and third, and maybe fourth) opinion. Before you submit your scholarship essay, pass a copy to a couple trusted individuals to read. Options for people to ask include your English teacher, your school counselor, a trusted friend or mentor, or even your parents (if you think they’d give you an unbiased opinion). Ask them if your essay is interesting, if it stays on topic, if it is clear and concise, and if they have any suggestions or corrections. This is also the time to make sure that your essay doesn’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. Be sure to read through your essay one more time before you submit it as well!
Scholarship essays may be time-consuming, but they don’t have to be difficult. If you set a clear game plan for yourself, you can submit an excellent essay every time.