How to Write a Scholarship Essay
Every amount of money that you can get through scholarships reduces the amount that you will have to borrow for your education. Unfortunately, competition for scholarships is really tough, and, when all else is equal, it can often be the scholarship essay that makes the difference. With so much riding on just a single essay, you cannot afford to submit anything that is not perfectly composed, completely engaging and compelling, and that will be a piece that the decision makers will remember.
You may not know how to write a scholarship essay, but that is okay. Here you are going to find the tips and tricks that will make yours unique and really “pop.”
Understanding and Picking the Right Prompt
Usually, you will be given 3-4 essay scholarship prompts, and be asked to select one for your essay. You will want to read each prompt very carefully, so that you are certain you understand what it is asking. One of the common errors students make in these types of situations is that they have a really strong idea about what they want to write and they then try to “force” that into one of the essay prompts. This is a big mistake.
- Spend some time reflecting on each prompt. Which one will allow you to reveal really important stuff about yourself? Which one will you have the easiest time responding to?
- Once you have selected your prompt, take some time to brainstorm, over time, about the things you might include. If you have a few weeks to do this, all the better. Often, students rush into these essays, submit them, and then think of something really relevant that should have been included.
Developing Your Essay
The scholarship essay format is no different than any essay you write, but it must be creatively written if it is to be remembered. Suppose you selected a prompt that related to your academic and career goals. You plan to present an explanation of your choice for a major, why you have selected that major, and the career you plan to pursue upon graduation. With luck, you have had experiences or events in your life that stimulated a passion for the major you have selected. These should be addressed early on in your essay. Perhaps you had a teacher who really “turned you on” to a content field; maybe you have belonged to clubs or organizations or have had hobbies related to the field of study. Here you must demonstrate that you really have an abiding interest and/or a passion.
You must then address how you intend to use your education and degree in a meaningful career. So a little research, if you are not absolutely certain, and explore the career projections in this field for the next decade or so. Mention those projections in your essay to demonstrate that you have given you career goals some careful thought.
Once the body paragraphs are completed, you need to think about a title and introduction. Your title and your first sentence are the most important parts of your essay. If the title is really “catchy” and the first sentence a real “grabber,” you have “won” 90% of the “battle.” The readers have been engaged and now really want to read what you have to say.
Don’t Take Chances
If you have any concerns at all about your ability to craft a stunning scholarship essay, you should seek help. You don’t want a mediocre piece of writing to spoil your chances.