Scholarship Essay Writing Tips
A scholarship essay is a type of personal writing that you will often do throughout your life. Almost all of us, while applying for the future career, are going to write a cover letter. For you to know, the cover letter does the same thing the scholarship essay does. You are trying ultimately to sell yourself to an employer or scholarship committee. The scholarship essay is an investment in your future. You are not writing it for a grade, you are writing it to get money for college. So, your scholarship essay needs to be unique, creative, and insightful, so that the committee will absolutely love it. And here is how you do that.
How to Start: Best Tips for a Killer Scholarship Essay
It is a bit obvious, but the first thing you need to do is a pre-plan. Figure out all the scholarships you will be applying for and find out a common similarity between the essay prompts. By doing this or by ordering your paper on essay writing cheap service, you will be able to save you much time. During the pre-plan stage, you also need to figure out all the deadlines for the scholarships so you do not miss out on the free money.
Craft Your Story
Write down a few things – what motivates you, what drives you, what excites you. The scholarship judges want to get to know the real you. Do not put anything that they can find out from your transcript or your resume. They know you are a good student, they know your test scores, they know your extracurricular activities.
To tell the truth, if you only take one thing away from this article, it should be this. Whenever possible, tell a short, true story about an event or experience in your life, rather than listing qualities, skills, or accomplishments. Usually, students try to list the things they have accomplished – work, student organizations, volunteer experience. But imagine how boring the essay like that would be. You want the person who is reading your essay to feel like they know you. Tell how you came to feel passionate about your career field. For example, tell about the time when you went through the disapproval of your choice, how you dealt with it, and how it changed you.
Think like the judges! Imagine that you work for a company that donates scholarships and you volunteered to be on the committee to decide who receives it. You have your job to do in addition to reading from 20 up to 80 scholarship essays a day. What would make an essay stand out? What would make you say “We should give this student money”? Here are some common answers that we come up with – an essay with no grammar error, an essay with a great first line, and most importantly, an essay that tells a true story about the writer.
Regardless of the theme, the essay is really about you. The judges want to know about your thoughts, your ideas, and your beliefs. And here is the last thing you need to know before starting to write.
Write Three Drafts of the Scholarship Essay
This idea comes from Anne Lamott book “Bird by Bird.” During the first draft, give yourself permission to write the ideas as they come to you. Make spelling or grammar mistakes galore. None of that matters, just get it all down. After you have written the first draft, leave it for a few hours. When you leave it, you are just giving your eyes a break. When you decide to come back, you will easily see all of these content and spelling mistakes.
In the second draft, revise. Address larger issues of content and structure in this draft. Ask the following questions: Is the point of your essay clear? Does each section and paragraph relate somehow to your key point? Does the structure work well? Do you need to move some sentences or reorganize the whole thing? Are there ideas that you need to write about more?
In the third draft, editing and proofreading happen. Look closely at sentence structure, grammar, and typos. Do not rely on spellcheck. It will not find missing or wrong words. For example, if you happen to write “form” instead of “from,” the online program will not correct these typos. In this draft, especially if the grammar is not your strong suit, give your essay to someone else to proofread.
When you know that you can fix everything on the next draft, you do not have to stop writing to worry “Did I say it right? Should a comma go here? Does the idea in this sentence flow logically into the idea in the next sentence?” Writing three drafts make the process easier.
Writing Tips from the Member of Scholarship Committee
The Structure of the Scholarship Essay
Follow the instructions you are given or you will be disqualified. Meet the word count or page requirement. Stick to any structural guidelines provided. Make sure your essay answers the question(s). If the organization receives 200 applications for 10 scholarships, an easy way to cut out a bunch of them is to throw out the ones that did not follow the instructions. So, analyze the question or the topic. Does the question suggest a structure? Here are some examples of the ones which have a clean system.
1. Why does this particular field of study interest you?
2. How will a scholarship assist you in attaining your goals?
3. Share any unique experiences that may distinguish you from other deserving candidates.
So, answer the question in this particular order and stick to that structure.
The Style of Writing
Simple, clear, and straightforward is the essence of a good scholarship essay. Do not try to impress your reader by using flowery sentences or big words. The goal of writing is to communicate ideas, meaningfully and effectively. Remember that long, complicated sentences do not sound more intellectual.
Avoid filler. The filler is what usually students write when they do not know what else to say and are trying to fill an empty space. It is like cotton candy. It takes up space and after you are done, you do not really feel satisfied. Be sure, judges of the scholarship essay will recognize filler immediately. Take it out, instead, do more free writing, get yourself to the library and do more research.
Here is one of the most common questions about the scholarship essays – Do I have to do research or is this just an analysis of myself?
Do the Research
Every single scholarship essay requires at least a little bit of research to be done. It is going to help beef up your paper. Here is an example of a simple question for the research – “Ways you plan to use your past experiences in business to help mold the future of international business.” So, what should you research? First of all, do research on yourself and gather your resume, past awards, and achievements to find out or create the list of that “past experience” of yours. The second part will be the research on the current problems of international business. And the final step is to see how you can combine your experience along with the problems that the international business is facing.
Once you have done research and have already something to say, it is time to brainstorm. The first step is to write down everything that comes to mind, even if you do not think it is crucial. Once you have jotted down all the ideas you can think of (the answers to the questions), you can decide which of them to use. When you brainstorm, great thoughts shine through. Too often, by censoring ourselves, we toss out the ideas which can make our scholarship essay stand out. If you have a great idea and you do not capture it down at that moment, chances are you are not going to remember it later.
For instance, while brainstorming on the topic of international business, I came up with three main ideas – time difference, cultural etiquette knowledge, and working habits.
When you are finished brainstorming, organize your ideas in the most logical way. This is where you will need to apply the knowledge of the three drafts. How to check whether you did it right or not? From these ideas, you should be able to see an outline.
A note about hardship stories. The hardship stories are okay only if they have a happy ending. Avoid writing about religion and politics. Why so? People feel very strongly about these themes, and if you write about something your reader does not agree with, that person may put your application in the “no” pile. The exception to this, of course, is if the scholarship is specifically through an organization that is faith-based or political in nature.
There is one more thing I should mention in this section. A golden rule of writing is invented by Anton Chekhov – “show, do not tell.” It is crucial even for the scholarship essay. But how are you supposed to tell (show) a true story about yourself if you have only boring ones? What do you do in this case? To answer this question, I want you to read the lyrics of the famous song “Everest” by Ani DiFranco. It is the details you use that make the story shine. Even if she is talking about a pretty regular event, the details she uses create images in our minds. Cinder blocks, fluorescent lights, squeaky sandal shoes, a floor which is scrubbed clean, etc. These are just a few examples. So, show the committee why you deserve to be one of their students.
The final step in the organization of your scholarship essay is the conclusion. Rewrite a compelling conclusion. Do not summarize. Instead, re-emphasize the key point or circle back to the beginning and tie the loop.
Now, your winning scholarship essay is done! Remember, if the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, then the journey to the college of your dreams begins with the first draft.