No matter what the criteria is or what the application process looks like, most scholarships require at least one essay. Although essays are one of the most important parts of a scholarship application, they can also seem difficult and time-consuming, especially if you are not a naturally skilled writer. How can you put your best foot forward in your scholarship essays? Check out these tips!
Plan Some Common Responses in Advance
Although you should write individual essays for each scholarship, many of the essay questions will share similar themes that you can use for other scholarship applications. Make some notes on a few common topics before you start applying and save your scholarship essays as you apply. You should never copy and paste a whole essay from one application to another, but if you have a supply of relevant essay information, you can keep track of your best ideas to write better scholarship essays later in the year. This approach will also keep you from scrambling to write an essay at the last minute. Some common essay topics can be found here.
Tell Your 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. Your approach to the essay will depend on the prompt and the required length, but if you follow these tips every time, you will be on your way to a great essay:
- Read the instructions carefully and follow them (word/page limits, format requirements, submission details, etc.)
- After you’ve written a first draft, reread it and make sure that your essay fully answers the prompt.
- Reread your draft again and make sure your essay is clear and concise. If you’re not sure, ask a trusted adult to check it for you.
It is important to be genuine in your scholarship essay, but you want to be the most polished version of yourself. You can do this by keeping your entire application neat (type and/or use your neatest handwriting) and sticking to a professional tone. If you need help with this, your English teacher could be a great resource.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
Before you submit your scholarship essay, pass a copy to a couple of 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). In addition to fixing spelling, grammatical and style errors, 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. Be sure to read through your essay one more time before you submit it!
Scholarship essays take time, but they do not have to be difficult. With a bit of organization and a little help, you can write a great essay every time.
By Allison Ourada