Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Stand Out in Scholarship Essays

You may have top-notch grades and qualifications, but so do many other students who are applying for the same scholarships. Essays are a chance for you to set yourself apart from the crowd and let the reader know what kind of person is beneath the GPA and test scores. Since the essay portion of a scholarship application is so crucial, it is important to know what to do and what not to do while in the writing process.

Follow the prompt/guidelines
Not every scholarship is going to have the same essay prompt. One may ask you about to discuss an event in your life that changed you, while another may ask you to describe one of your greatest achievements. Many scholarship essays even have specific word counts or other formatting guidelines. Be sure to follow these explicitly.

Speak simply and specifically
It is very important to keep your essay clear and concise. You don’t want the person reading it to be lost or confused on your organization and word choice. Speak in words that you fully understand and be sure to stick to one thought or idea per paragraph. Sometimes it is easiest to write out an outline first that connects one main idea to another. This will help structure your essay and give it a nice flow.

Make it personal and passionate
It is easiest to write on topics that you are truly passionate about. If you write about something you don’t really care about just because you think it will be a crowd pleaser, that bland attitude will show through in your writing. When following the prompt, use it to your advantage and discuss something that you could talk about forever.

Edit, edit, edit
Not only should you proofread your own paper, but you should also read it aloud and have someone else proofread it as well. It is important to not go straight to your parents or friends to proofread your paper. You want it to be edited by someone who is not afraid to point out the flaws and who can help you restructure the essay to make it the best it can be.

Do not…
Use unfamiliar words from a thesaurus
So many students nowadays write essays with thesaurus.com open in the next tab. It is okay to find synonyms for repetitive words; however it is vital that you don't use these words improperly. Also, don’t reach too far with your word choice. The person analyzing your essay will know if you are just adding big words to look more intelligent.

Restate what is already on your resume
The essay portion of a scholarship application gives you the opportunity to be yourself and share a unique story. Simply talking about every club you were involved in or every award you received in high school will not help you out. You have the chance to provide that information in the application portion of the scholarship.

Simply ask for money
Do not begin your essay by saying “I could really use this scholarship to help pay for my school tuition.” Or “I come from a low-income family and this scholarship would be crucial for me.” Everyone applying for the scholarship has one goal, and that is to receive money toward their tuition. Even if your circumstances are worse than others, it will not help you to ask for money in your essay. Show that you deserve the money through your achievements and your story, not by simply asking for it.

Here are a few more sites that give tips on writing scholarship essays:
How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay
10 Tips for Writing Effective Scholarship Essays
4 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out

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