Nowadays, almost all scholarship applications require you to write a scholarship essay as part of the application. Chances are that the institution awarding it will receive a lot of entries. So, how do you make yours stand it in the eyes of the scholarship council board? The number one thing to consider is that we all have our own writing style as we have all gone through different life experiences and are inspired by different things. Even if the message conveyed is the same, the words used will differ. Once you open up your word processor, the words pouring over your keyboard will be unique to you. You need to write a short section explaining about your previous work so it is always a good idea to create a research paper outline in order to express about your last work.
So, the trick is to write a winning scholarship essay that stands out and is convincing enough about why you, the author of that particular essay, should win that scholarship and not another person? What drives your interest in that particular area? Your entry should be about you and how you relate to the subject. Use your own unique writing style and catch the evaluation’s eye.
Here are a few tips that we have found to work over our years of experience with scholarship essays. Of course, some scholarships may require some more specific points but this is a good overall guide.
- Understanding Statement: Make sure you understand the essay statement in order to be able to respond to it correctly. For example, if the essay statement is: “A situation where I have demonstrated leadership skills, and how it made a difference in my work”. Key points that you need to address based on this statement are “leadership” and “difference in my work”.
- Understanding Key points: Understand the meaning of the key points. After identifying them, you will need to consider what they mean beyond the initial level. In the above example, “leadership” refers to results achieved under your leadership, not necessarily the responsibilities of the position itself. Once you understand these you will be able to address them accordingly. The more related examples and points you can make, the more relevant your abilities will look in the eyes of the reader.
- Create Story like a Speech outline: We can not stress enough the importance of an outline. Make notes of possible ideas on what to include in all parts of your essay. If done well, this will make the task of writing the essay a lot easier as you will have already defined the main aspects of the subject matter of your essay, you need only expand them further. If necessary, write several draft versions until you are perfectly content with the final version.
- Know your audience: Before sending in your application, research on who is giving away the scholarship, what they do and what they stand for. Even better, look for information on other grants and awards they have given in the past. What have they asked for? If the winning entries are published, read them. In other words, gather as much information about the audience, the evaluation’s that might be reading your essay and decide whether you should receive that scholarship. This will enable you to get an idea of your audience and who might be evaluating your essay.
- Use keywords and synonym: of keywords used in the essay statement. This will prove that you actually answering the question the statement asked. For instance, references to “leadership” and “difference in work practices” should be included.
- Start off strongly: Instead of talking about yourself and your interest in the specific subject, quote from a relevant source related to the topic. This is a useful strategy as it allows you to seamlessly link to the body of your essay and the main point you are trying to make. Not only that but you also show off your knowledge of the subject area and willingness to pursue it further.
- Respect the word count limit and any other guidelines: Sometimes scholarship applications ask for a limited number of words in entries as they are easier to go through, plus candidates have the opportunity of showing their aptitude to keep things on point and not go off on tangents which is a frequent occurrence whenever essay instructions do not go into such specifics.
- Make sure you are submitting your best work: Most scholarships are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They require an essay to prove your abilities beyond your transcript of records and short biography. So, before submitting, go through it one last time to make sure it is the best it can possibly be. It can be the strongest or weakest point of your application and your chances of being awarded a grant can be increased or reduced purely based on your writing and answer to the writing prompt given.
- Do not wait till the last minute to send your submission: Here you may also need to consider time zone differences, poor internet connections etc. I have personally spent days on an essay only to be unable to turn it on time because of PC issues. So, have a backup copy of your entry on a memory card or wherever else is convenient and try to submit at least a few hours before the deadline.
- Do not quit: because it is taking up too much time and effort. Yes, we would all rather spend our Friday night out with friends instead of writing. But this momentary decision can have a major impact on your future especially if we are talking about a grant that will enable you to attend your college of choice or even a tuition fee waiver. You will be proud of this accomplishment and will not give the missed Friday night outing a second thought.
Finally, when writing a scholarship application essay, show what you are capable of and that you know where you are headed. Use proper language and the necessary keywords, show your enthusiasm for the subject matter, let your experiences and desire to learn something new come through, and most importantly, that you believe the particular scholarship will have a positive impact in the goals you want to achieve. After all, no evaluator will award a scholarship to a candidate whose essay does not prove a certain attitude. Believe in yourself and your abilities. And write an essay that will knock people’s socks off.
Good luck for your entry into winning a scholarship!
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