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Keys to a Great Scholarship Essay



Tips for a Winning Scholarship Essay

You work hard in class and give your all to successfully transition to college.  You invest time to find great scholarship opportunities and busily complete the data required.  When the essay portion of the college scholarship application comes up you freeze.  Bumping into a mental block on a scholarship essay is a common result at this point in the process.  This informative article will help you be creative, focus, and help stand out from other applicants vying for the same dollars.

First, lets cover the basics of a scholarship essay.  The purpose of a scholarship essay can be summarized in three primary bullet points.  Scholarship essays are designed to:

  1. Provide scholarship providers an opportunity to get to know you more intimately.  Whether it is a school or a private scholarship provider, understanding applicants is a key facet of an essay.
  2. Illustrate your communication skills.  Creating a coherent essay conveys to scholarship providers a great deal about your skills and written communication prowess.
  3. Determine if you can follow a series of instructions.  If you can communicate clearly, provide the reader with useful personal insights, and accurately follow directions your essay will be in the running.

If a scholarship provider asks you to create a 4 paragraph essay in blue ink about a recent volunteer project or community event, make sure to deliver on that request with exactness.

Top 5 Tips for Great Scholarship Essays

Read the Instructions.  As simple as it sounds, take the time to read the scholarship instructions carefully.  Time and time again applications are finished by students only to realize they were not completed correctly.  Carefully read scholarship instructions and any applicable essay prompts.  We find it truly amazing at how many college scholarship applications get kicked for not following instructions.

Round the Edges.  While you may have a desire to be modest or humorous in your essay, it is best to stay the course with your scholarship essay.  Self-depreciating humor and sarcasm may not translate to the reader as intended.  As such, we recommend avoiding edgy stories or off-color humor in favor of clear communication.  Give the reader the best version of yourself while being earnest.  Create a detailed list of positive qualities and build your essay around those characteristics and values to help you stand out.

Invest heavily.  Do not be rash and rush through an essay.  Take a breath and reserve ample time to communicate a compelling essay about you.  Investing time to help a scholarship committee really understand you is key.  Help the reader understand the values you possess, special skills, community involvement, and your unwavering commitment to lifelong learning.

A one-size fits all universal scholarship essay will prove to be too generic for most scholarship providers and miss the mark.  Do not scramble for scholarships at the last minute when you can invest in scholarship opportunities that fit early in the process.

Be Task Oriented.  After taking the proper time to read the instructions and think through a cogent response, you will need to break up your essay into manageable tasks.  Start by chunking ideas to arrive at a rough draft.  Refine the rough draft into a coherent essay and refine it once more before asking for help.

Proofreading your essay before asking for help will help you arrive at a final draft ready for submission.  Skipping steps along the way will often reduce the quality of your essay and the efficacy of your scholarship in the eyes of the committee.

Be Salient.  Scholarship committee members may receive a handful of applications for a niche scholarship; alternatively, they may receive hundreds of applications for broad-based scholarships.  Committee members tell us that the vast majority of the scholarship essays they read lack one or more of the following: character, personality, and individuality.  Applicants may be reticent to get too personal and end up with a bland essay.

Do not simply check a box and submit your scholarship application.  Fill your essay with life by painting a vibrant picture of you.  It is acceptable to start an essay with a general idea on infuse it with your personal experience to drive a point home.  At other times, starting with a specific idea or event can draw in a reader in meaningful ways.  Remember to be authentic, personal, and memorable.

Top Scholarship Articles

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  3. Avoiding Scholarship Scams
  4. Debunking Scholarship Myths
  5. Scholarship Tips
  6. Inside Scholarship Essays
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  8. Graduating Debt Free from College

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