6 Tips to Help Ace Your Scholarship EssayNovember 17, 2020
College is expensive. The good news is that scholarships provide a fantastic way to make the college experience a less expensive and more manageable one. There are thousands of scholarships out there from merit-based scholarships to scholarships for those planning on going into very specific fields.
One thing that may feel intimidating when applying for scholarships is that many require completion of an essay. However, with a little preparation and hard work, the scholarship essay can be an easy way to show off your personality and explain why you deserve the scholarship. It’s one of your strongest tools to set you apart from other candidates. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of scholarship essay tips:
One of the best scholarship essay tips is to give yourself plenty of time to write and rewrite. Any writer will tell you that writing is a process of revision, and the best way to get ahead in that process is to start early.
Take a look at the essay prompts and requirements. Consider building out an outline. Write. Rewrite. Take your time. Since you’ve started so early, there’s no reason to worry about deadlines just yet.
The scholarship essay is your chance to really show who you are. They can’t tell what you are interested in and how spectacular you are from your paperwork and grades. The essay is the real test.
When you are choosing something to write about, another scholarship essay tip is to select a subject that you’re passionate about. If you write about something that makes you happy, the reader is sure to understand that you feel strongly about the subject and enjoy your essay even more.
In addition, the essay readers don’t want to hear about something pessimistic or negative, so keep the tone positive or show how you turned a negative experience into a positive one. Even consider writing about a time where you learned from failure.
Sometimes it can be hard to share emotions and personal details in your writing. These details, however, also give the essay readers a genuine sense of who you are.
Your experiences and feelings are totally unique, and sharing them in your essay will set you apart. Regardless of the seriousness of whatever story you tell, don’t be afraid to show your personality. It’s always better to, especially since your application already covers your academic and personal achievements.
Because you started early, you’ll have plenty of time to edit your essay. A well-edited essay is one of the most important parts of any scholarship application. Far more important than having incredible stories of struggle and failure is the ability to write a cohesive and grammatically correct essay.
So when you’re writing, take the time to go back through your work and correct any grammar and spelling mistakes first. Then consider putting your essay into a tool like Grammarly which will check spelling, grammar and diction.
After that, it’s always worth giving your essay to someone to read. Ask your teachers, family, friends, anyone to trust to read over your essay and provide feedback. Remember, the more feedback the better.
A scholarship essay tip you may not have considered is to enjoy the process of writing. Essays should have a hook, meaning something fun to engage the reader. Some humor (or pathos) can make your essay much more effective.
Understandably, with so much on the line, it’s easy to forget that the purpose of this essay is to show off your personality, but don’t forget to have some fun. Provide a nice balance of serious content and levity. Your readers will appreciate it, and you’ll be left with a stronger essay.
Leave Some Things Out
With all the talk of having fun and being yourself, you might get a little carried away. Be warned: there are some things you should leave out of your college essay, including profanity or inappropriate language. Simply put, it’s unprofessional, and it makes it seem that you aren’t taking the essay seriously.
Next to avoid would be cliches. It’s easy to churn out a cliche-ridden success story, especially when you’re following a common prompt, for example, learning from failure or overcoming adversity. Watch out for overused phrases in your writing, and avoid them when you can.
Finally and most importantly, write formally without losing your sense of personality. This means eliminating any text speak. No “LOLs” or emojis. It also means that you should keep your use of contractions to a minimum. They may be great for casual writing, but removing them from your essay will make it seem all the more polished.
The Bottom Line
Writing a college scholarship essay doesn’t have to be intimidating. Follow the instructions and try your best to show off who you are in order to most effectively reach your readers. The fact is, regardless of whether or not you receive a scholarship right away, there are thousands ready to accept your application.
Best of all, since you’ve started early, you have plenty of time to work on dozens more essays and applications. By following these tips, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of scholarship success.
If despite your scholarships you still find yourself burdened by student debt, check out these great ways to pay off your student loans faster here.