Due to the rising costs of education, scholarships are all but mandatory for some students if they want to get a college degree. However, all institutes don’t just hand them out easily.
Typically, they ask all applicants that want a scholarship to write an essay. They provide a prompt that applicants have to write about. The students with the best essays are then selected for the scholarship.
Many students compete with each other to obtain scholarships, but only a limited number can be selected. So, it is necessary for you to write an excellent essay that stands out from the crowd in order to be chosen.
To help you with that we have compiled a list of tips for writing a winning scholarship essay.
Tips for Writing an Excellent Scholarship Essay
There is no “formula” for writing a winning scholarship essay, but some tips can always help you out regardless. Here are nine of them.
1. Research the Institute Providing the Scholarship
Scholarships are given out by various kinds of entities. Usually, colleges and universities provide scholarships, but sometimes other organizations can also hand them out.
Whichever entity it is, you need to conduct some research on them. You want to learn:
- What kind of organization they are
- What are their goals
- What motivated them to hand out the scholarships
Information like this can help you write an essay that speaks to the scholarship committee. You have to tailor the essays according to the scholarship providers to get the best reaction.
But don’t be alarmed. This does not mean that you have to show them a fake side of yourself to get in their good books. It only means that you have to show them that your experiences can help with their mission.
2. Understand the Prompt
Prompts given by scholarship committees are usually very open. This means that they can be interpreted in a number of ways. That’s why it is very important that you take the time to think about it and understand it.
One easy way to understand the prompt is to restate it as a question (if it is not already one). Questions help you understand what is being asked of you.
Let’s look at an example of this. A given prompt is like this:
“Reflect on the economic state of your country and your role in it”
This is a very open prompt, but if you restate it as a question:
“What is the overall state of your country’s economy and how are you impacting it?”
This is much easier to grasp and write about. It also gives you a clear direction. Direction is necessary because you need to avoid straying from the prompt. Being able to discuss one topic exclusively is valued highly in these types of essays.
3. Choose a Topic that Interests you
As we saw already, prompts can be very open-ended, and sometimes scholarship committees give you free rein to write about anything you like.
In this case, you should always pick a topic that you are personally interested in. That way you will be able to write well and go into finer details. This can impress the committee and help you get that scholarship.
4. Create a Strong Hook
Tips that you can use to write any good essay are also applicable to your scholarship essays. One such tip is to write a strong introductory paragraph. You want to grab your audience’s attention right from the get-go.
This is called a ‘hook’, as in you are ‘hooking’ the reader’s attention. A great way of ‘hooking’ is to use an unconventional starting line. For example, instead of saying:
“I started working in 2017”
“It was 2017, and I was just stepping into a new phase of life”
And then go on to describe how you started working. As you can see, the second method is more attention-grabbing compared to the first one.
5. Talk About Your Own Experiences
Talking about your own experiences is very important. You are trying to show the committee why you are eligible for this scholarship.
This means that you have to tell them about any experiences you have had in relation to your essay prompt, and the mission of the organization that is providing the scholarship.
Your experiences also serve to make you stand out from the rest because they are unique to you.
6. Check Your Essay for Mistakes
After you are done writing your first draft, you should start proofreading it. This is necessary for finding out any overlooked grammatical errors and incorrect facts.
Checking for grammar can be difficult because your brain automatically glosses over small mistakes.
Or, you correct them in your mind but don’t do it in your draft. An easy method for dealing with this is a grammar and punctuation checker. This a type of online tool that can detect spelling mistakes, and missing or incorrect punctuation.
With the help of a grammar checker, you can easily find out your errors and fix them. For fact-checking, you need to have done prior research first and you just need to double-check your notes.
7. Ensure There is no Plagiarism
There are a few mistakes that can hurt your chances of getting the scholarship. One such mistake is committing plagiarism.
Now, we all know that plagiarism is wrong, and nobody does it intentionally, especially in a scholarship essay. However, accidental plagiarism can occur without your knowledge.
Nobody appreciates plagiarism and if you resort to copying the works of other people then your application will be rejected.
That’s because it is very easy to find out if a work has any plagiarism in it. Committee members check essays for plagiarism and if there is a significant amount of it, the essay is rejected.
To ensure that there is no plagiarism in your essay you can use the very same tools that are used to check for it. To check plagiarism in your essay you can go online and search for plagiarism-detecting tools.
These plagiarism-checking tools can compare written content against many online sources and highlight any matching parts. Most of them also provide detailed reports that help you edit your work and remove all instances of duplication.
8. Avoid Clichés, Quotes, and Platitudes
Clichés are stories and themes that are so overused that they aren’t impressive anymore. To make your essay interesting avoid using any kind of clichés at all.
They make your write-up look weak and uninteresting.
Another thing you need to avoid is quotes. Students seem to think that quotes make your essays look better, but ironically, they don’t. That’s because too many people use them and they become repetitive.
Similarly, you should avoid platitudes—a statement with some moral implication that has been ‘overused’. Just like clichés, they make your work look uninteresting and weak.
9. Give Yourself Ample Time
Never wait until the last day to start writing your scholarship essay. That will only hurt your chances of getting the scholarship. A hurriedly written essay will reflect that in its quality.
So, what you want to do is to divide the time you have before the deadline. You need to allocate a few days for research, two or three days for actually writing the essay, and then you need at least another day for proofreading and editing.
This way of dividing the tasks will help you achieve all of them comfortably and save you from getting burnt out.
Winning scholarship essays do not have a set template. If you were to take out just five winning essays from a single organization, you would be hard-pressed to find anything common between them.
However, with these tips, you can still ensure that you have a fighting chance at getting the scholarship.