As you know, financing your education requires planning and effort, and we encourage our student to use national and local scholarships to help offset educational costs. Many scholarships have essay components, but don't let this deter you from applying. Let your essay be the place where your story and your personality shine. Read on for tips that will help you rise above the competition.
1. Consider Your Audience. Before you put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard), think about the organization sponsoring the scholarship. What purpose does the organization serve? What characteristics do most members share? The group you're writing for should determine your word choice, tone and theme. If you select a tone inappropriate for your audience, you might be unfairly disqualified—even if you're a great candidate for the scholarship itself.
2. Create an Outline. Before you start your essay, create an outline that includes all of the points you want to make and that takes the word limit into account. Listing your main points will help you stay organized and ensure that you don't accidentally omit any of your central arguments.
3. Craft a Compelling Introduction. The people reviewing scholarship applications will read dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of essays; after a while, those essays can blend together. How can you ensure that your piece is memorable? By writing a compelling introduction. Start with something interesting and intriguing, and then introduce the main topic of your essay by the end of the first paragraph. Give your readers a reason to keep reading: Hook them with your introduction.
4. Be Concise. Concise writing is often the best writing. Many students believe that longer sentences are better, but this isn't the case. Communicate your point using only as many words as you need.
5. Avoid the Thesaurus. This is a good rule for now and the future: If you don't already know the definition of that word, don't use it. Your readers will sense your discomfort, and you'll seem less trustworthy as an author.
6. Edit, Edit, Edit. Before you submit your essays, edit them thoroughly. Don't run spellcheck and think you're finished. Re-read your essay (possibly even aloud) to identify awkward sentences, subject/verb disagreements, sections that require clarification and other trouble spots. Don't let a misspelling or a grammar error prevent you from getting funding.
7. Enlist Help. If you're unsure of your editorial skills, ask a friend, parent or teacher to help you look over your essays. When others review your work, they can point out passages that may have seemed logical to you but might need additional clarification.
8. Be Persistent. The best way to ensure that you won't be awarded a scholarship is not to apply. Apply to as many scholarships and grants as you're eligible for, and if you don't succeed at first, keep trying!