Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay
Many scholarships ask you to write an essay as part of the application process as a means to get to know you; this gives you a chance to convince them of why you deserve the award over other applicants.
Don’t let the essay requirement stop you from applying!
Maybe you don’t consider yourself a very strong writer- don’t let this intimidate you! While you should try your best with spelling and grammar, the main point of the personal essays is to show who you are, not how perfect you are at writing. Also keep in mind that most essays have a word limit of about 500, that’s only two pages double-spaced!
Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, write your essay and have it proofread. Don’t wait until the night before the deadline!
Analyze and understand the question
- Is this strictly a personal essay? Or do you need to do research first?
- How many parts are there to this question? Make sure to address each part in your response.
- What is this organization trying to learn from you by posing this question?
- Pay attention to subtleties in their language- Do they want to know about your high school experience? Community service? Personal obstacles you’ve overcome? Future goals??
Know your audience
- What is the mission of this organization? Why are they providing scholarship money?
- Consider writing about an experience or interest that highlights your ties to their mission
- You can usually find this information on the scholarship website
Create an outline
The most difficult part of writing is often figuring out where to start. Use an outline to help organize thoughts. Sometimes it helps to jot down ideas as they come to you and then you can arrange them in a way that makes sense later.
Writing your essay
- Go deep- Don’t be afraid to get personal and show your passion, this is your chance to tell them what makes you so amazing!
- Keep it positive- Even when writing about a sad time, make sure the ultimate message is how you have overcome the difficult time and have succeeded despite the obstacles.
- Use present tense, when possible- this makes the reader feel more connected to the narrative
- After completing your essay take a break before you proofread. Let your mind relax and come back to it with fresh eyes.
- Make sure you stayed focused and fully answered the essay prompt
- Check spelling, grammar and punctuation- don’t trust spell check
- Ask as many people as you can to read your essay and help you with honest feedback
- Bring it in to the Career Center, ask a teacher, brother, mom, coach… each pair of eyes helps!