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Five Tips to Help You Write an Excellent Scholarship Essay

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October 7, 2022

College is more expensive than ever and many students may not have the time to work while going to school. A college degree is a necessity when applying for jobs. One of the ways you can help fund your college education is through scholarships. However, scholarships are competitive and often require you to write an essay, which can be daunting. Writing the perfect scholarship essay is not easy, so we have compiled together five tips to make your essay stand out from the rest. 


1. Look for commonalities between different scholarship essays.


Often times when applying for scholarships you will find similar essay prompts. If you plan ahead of time and carefully lay out the requirements for each before writing your essay, you can often use the same essay for a number of scholarship applications. That being said, however, you will need to be extremely careful that you stay on topic and adhere closely to the main points of the essay. Always make sure to read the scholarship requirements and essay prompts before submitting.


2. Check the due dates


If you do not submit your application on time, writing the essay is pointless. With that reasoning in mind, due dates are one of the most important components of the scholarship application process. Whether you are applying for one scholarship or 20, you should take the time to mark their due dates in your calendar. Once you have this information laid out, you can create a schedule for yourself depending on how long the essay needs to be and how early you need to get it done to have time to review it and make edits. 


3. Start with a strong opening statement


Having a strong opening statement is crucial to getting and keeping the reader’s attention. If you give away all the details in the first paragraph, then the reader has no motive to read the rest of the paper. However, if you pique their interest with a story you have a better chance of them moving forward through your essay. For example, “Did you know that students working part-time in the Pocatello area have an average monthly income of only about $1000, and with rent rising to record high levels most of that is paid right back to landlords?” would be a much more effective opener than “I am applying to this scholarship because housing is expensive and I need help paying for school.” The moral of starting with a strong opening is that you need to catch the reader’s attention and follow through with your explanation of that opening statement.

4. Elaborate on your main points and be true to yourself


Writing an essay about yourself is no easy task and weaving stories into that essay that shows character and relates to the prompt seems almost impossible. However, one thing that is very important to remember is that you need to stay true to yourself. When writing one of these essays, it is easy to write what you think someone wants to hear as opposed to writing about your actual experiences. This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First of all, everyone else applying for this scholarship is likely falling into the same trap, which leads to hundreds of slight variations of the same essay. Secondly, you self-sabotage by making yourself look like everyone else. When applying for a scholarship, the best thing you can do is make yourself look unique to the reader. One of the best ways you can do this is by telling a story, which piggybacks nicely from a strong opening statement. If you decide to tell a story in your essay, be as vivid as possible to help the reader feel like they were there experiencing the situation with you. After you have conveyed your point and answered the prompt, make sure that you end the story. One of the easiest mistakes to make when telling a story is to trail on with information that is no longer pertinent to the prompt. 


5. Proofread your essay and have others proofread your essay


One of the easiest, but most often overlooked, steps in the essay-writing process is proofreading. While this might not seem like something that will make or break your chances of receiving the scholarship, it very well may. The people reading your essay are reading countless other essays from other top students potentially from around the world. So even if you have the best opening statement and a really strong story, if it comes down to a couple of spelling or grammar mistakes, your chances of getting the scholarship will dwindle. It is expected that scholarship essays are your top-notch work, and if your top-notch work includes mistakes and the other essay does not, theirs will come out on top. 


These were five tips on how to write an excellent scholarship essay. We believe you should always start with finding commonalities between different scholarship essays. Then, ensure you check and record due dates. Once you get into the process of writing, begin with a strong opening statement, tell a great story that stays true to yourself and hits the scholarship’s ideal prompts and do not forget to finish off by proofreading and seeking out peer edits before finally submitting.


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