How to Write a Scholarship Essay

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Every good student dreams of going to a prestigious college that will enhance their chances of acquiring a good career. Since many quality institutions are expensive, students prefer to apply for scholarships. Part of this application involves an essay which is crucial in determining your application’s success. Just like you, many students are honing their writing skills to demonstrate to the selection committee why they should win.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need perfect writing skills to win a scholarship. The selection committee is aware that the candidates are young adults who have little professional experience and adjust their expectations accordingly. As such, your essay should be realistic in comparison to your academic level. Even so, you can benefit from these tips:

Best Tips For An Outstanding Scholarship Essay

1.     Engage in proper planning. 

Many scholarship essays use a prompt in which interested parties are expected to describe why they should win the scholarship. Read carefully through the essay prompt provided. Take note of the word count and begin brainstorming ideas based on the prompt’s theme. You also need to give yourself ample time to complete the essay and proofread, so start early. 

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

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2.     Understand your audience. 

The selection committee is no doubt going to look at which candidate best matches their preferences. Look into what the ideal candidate for the vacancy is, and cater your strengths to their expectations. You can do this by incorporating traits you share with their mission statement into account. However, be cautious not to lie or exaggerate.

3.     Select an interesting topic

Choosing a topic that piques your interest can help improve your flow. Most writers would advise you to go after topics you may have some experience with so as to improve flow and consistency. Your personality is also bound to shine through if you practice writing about topics of interest to you.

4.     Maintain a good structure 

Your entire essay should have a consistent flow that allows the reader to follow your thoughts. This can be achieved using an outline. Jot down some short notes on what you want your essay to talk about and categorize your thoughts into a proper introduction, body, and conclusion. Add relevant details to the points to complete this step.

5.     Form a strong introduction. 

Begin with a strong hook to engage the reader and keep them interested. Literary tools such as suspense and vivid imagery can work to help form a positive view of your essay.

6.     Utilize ethos, pathos, and logos to connect with the reader.

Winning the scholarship essay depends on how well you articulate your personal traits and growth to the readers. Use ethos to communicate your authority on the subject, such as how your travel experience shaped your knowledge of foreign travel laws. Logos is also vital as it showcases logic. Last is pathos which uses emotional appeal. 

However, some writers avoid discussing their vulnerabilities using pathos, which takes away from your humanity. One way to arrive at this is by addressing a time in which you overcame an obstacle and displayed maturity and personal growth.

7.     Use vivid imagery to formulate relatable descriptions

Use clear narration to detail your experience to make your essay unique and appealing. A clear picture of what you’re trying to describe and believable examples are vital to good storytelling. It can also showcase your personality, making your essay stand out. 

8.     Avoid a negative tone 

Everyone faces difficulty in their life. However, some students write depressing and bleak stories that do not inspire the reader. Such stories can turn the committee off to your story, so you should adopt a positive tone and use the opportunity to express how you surpassed those challenges and grew from the lessons learned.

9.     Be concise

Using vivid imagery is key to writing an excellent essay. Additionally, generalizations are not welcome, so you should offer precise examples. However, fluff is not effective. Compact writing allows the reader to flow with the story as there is not too much to process.

10.  Maintain professionalism

Your scholarship essay should express your personality and be realistic. Even so, your essay should show professionalism and contain a moderate degree of conversational language. Remember that the selection committee is looking to pick the best and the brightest, so your writing skills should stand out.

11.  Once complete, proofread your essay

When writing about an interesting topic, you may get carried away and not notice the various grammatical and logical errors your work may have. Experts advise that you revise and proofread your work after taking a short break to freshen up. A short breather allows you to view your essay with more clarity; hence you may notice minor errors that affect the flow and content of your work.

12.  Ask for feedback

Many prolific writers highlight the value of receiving feedback on a draft. This can be achieved by consulting a trusted advisor such as a teacher. Not only does feedback offer an objective assessment of your work, the guidance received will help improve your writing skills. Since the results of a scholarship essay are a crucial part of your academic journey, you should not skip this step.

13.  Use school resources

Writing is a skill that can take years to perfect. Fortunately, students like yourself can benefit from the wide array of educational resources availed to them. Many modern institutions, such as libraries, offer writing centers where you can acquire helpful tips for your scholarship essay.

14.  Follow a narrative structure

A narrative essay tells a story. Many fiction works follow this essay format, which utilizes three elements: exposition, complication, and resolution. The exposition refers to the background information that divulges the setting using imagery, dialogue, or thoughts. The complication is the ‘body’ part and introduces conflict, which develops the narrative further. Last is the resolution in which the conflict introduced earlier is concluded.

15.  Use transition phrases

Since your essay is a narrative with a lot of connecting ideas, it is necessary to connect these ideas using words that show their relationship. They include examples such as consequently, finally, still, yet, but, for instance, nearby, and while. The use of transitional words improves readability significantly, so you should include a few.

16.  Only apply to scholarships you are eligible for

While you may have the potential to engage in a certain academic program, you might lack the basic requirements. For example, you may want to study a STEM course but have poor grades in science. Your essay may be fantastic, but you will most likely fail as the selection committee will consider you unqualified for the program. For this reason, you need to spend time wisely and compete for scholarships, so you have a higher chance of winning.

17.  Reuse a past essay

If you have applied to several programs and schools, you may have realized that many selection committees use similar or identical prompts. In the case of identical prompts, you can submit the previous copy after editing personal information, such as addresses and titles, if any. On the other hand, you may experience prompts with different phrasing, but they can be answered in the same way. Such prompts can use the same essay tweaked to fit specifics.

18.  Highlight your resilience

Selection committees know that academics are challenging. As such, they seek to select a winner with sufficient fortitude to pass and graduate. For these reasons, your essay should demonstrate your ability to overcome obstacles and remain focused despite these issues. Even so, your narrative should be complete and should display gradual growth and personal development.

Things To Avoid In Your Scholarship Essay

1.     Using profanity

While profanity is common, using it in professional or academic settings is uncouth and pains a poor image of the writer.

2.     Exploring cliché themes.

A common one is the Cinderella trope that paints the writer as an underdog who fought against all odds to succeed with no help from family, friends, or the state. Many such stories are simply unrealistic.

3.     Being unprofessional and using slang, emojis, and acronyms.

The use of social media has led to many students lacking proper spelling and grammar skills since they rarely use them. As such, these minor errors should be avoided.

4.     Talking ill of other applicants.

A scholarship essay is an opportunity to put your best foot forward. However, avoid speaking ill of other applicants and focus on your own positive attributes. The former is a bad look that paints you as an arrogant or conceited person.

5.     Use inspirational quotes as it is not unique.

Many inspirational quotes are attributable to famous individuals. While these people may be admirable, their general statements may not apply to your circumstances. It is preferable that you quote wisdom received from people familiar to you.

6.     Discussing controversial topics.

If given an option, avoid controversial topics, as they can unintentionally offend the reader and affect your chances of winning the scholarship. Rather, write on a thoughtful topic that remains both interesting and agreeable.

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