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15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
Do Your Research
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
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Scholarship Application Essay Tips
Writing your scholarship application essay, 1. plan ahead.
- Don’t procrastinate!
- Give yourself plenty of time to review and edit your essay
- Be aware of the deadline date (i.e.: received vs. postmark)
2. Talk about your accomplishments
- Be clear and to the point
- Don’t brag or over-sell yourself
3. State your need
- What is your financial situation?
- Do you work?
- Do you receive support from your family?
- Do you receive financial aid?
4. Keep it simple
- Don’t use unnecessary words (i.e., don’t use three words when one will do)
- Don’t include unnecessary information just to “fill the page”
5. Make it easy on your reader
- Have someone else read your essay for clarity
- Write complete sentences and paragraphs
- Spell check your essay – make sure words are used correctly (e.g.,: “two,” “to,” “too;” or “there,” “their,” or “they’re;” “its” or “it’s,” etc.)
Organize Your Thoughts
- Who are you?
- Why are you who you are?
- What are you doing?
- What have you done?
- Where are you now?
- Where are you going?
- How are you going to get there?
- Why do you need a scholarship?
- How will it make a difference?
- How did you make the decision to continue your education?
1. introductory sentence.
- State your name
- What quarter you are in at Pierce College
2. Educational Objectives and Career Goals
- Identify your major
- Why did you choose this major?
- What will you do with a degree in this field?
- What career path have you chosen? Example: I have always enjoyed working with computers and I love to write. I’m pursuing a career in technical writing; this will allow me to pursue both interests - focusing on a viable career and doing something that I enjoy.
3. Brief Background
- Who are you? (not your name) – family, children, siblings, etc.
- How did you get to where you are today?
- Insert extra-curricular interests, volunteer work, hobbies – things that make you stand our or are unusual.
- Academic Accomplishments: GPA, level of difficulty of courses taken, types of courses taken, etc. Examples: During my free time, I volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Tacoma as a Big Sister. Much of my free time is spent with my children, teaching them by example that education is important. I am currently enrolled in 16 credit hours and I work two part-time jobs.
- How will it make a difference to you? Examples: Although I work two part-time jobs, I find it difficult to meet the financial demands of supporting myself and paying for an education. A scholarship will allow me to continue with school in the fall. My parents provide me with room and board, but because I have younger brothers and sisters, they cannot help me with my educational expenses. The money I earn at the car wash part-time is barely enough to cover my books and supplies. A scholarship would help a great deal. Receiving a scholarship would allow me to reduce the number of hours that I work at the daycare, which would then allow me more time to concentrate on my studies.
- Wrap it up with a simple sentence or two. You can include how your education to date has made a difference to you.
- End with a “thank you for allowing me the opportunity to apply.”
Writing Your Essay
Take the outline and begin with the first sentence (which may be the most difficult) and then just write to include everything you think is important. Don’t worry about the length of the essay at this point. Use your outline as a guide.
1. First Sentence (the most difficult part)
- Who, What, Where, When, Why Example: My name is Paula Henson and I am (applying, seeking, asking) for a scholarship for the Fall Quarter 2015. My educational objective is to graduate in 2016 with an Associate Degree in Marketing (or transfer to the University of Washington and obtain a degree in Business to pursue a career in Accounting).
2. Now go back and look at what you’ve written.
Read it for content and organization of the information. At this point, it is probably too long. What can you eliminate and/or incorporate? Are you redundant? Are you too brief? Does this essay paint an accurate picture of YOU?
3. Spell check, spell check, spell check
4. have someone else read your essay. is it you what do they think, 5. do you like what it says about you reread it one last time and spell check it again.
Remember: The essay is your chance to communicate your needs, accomplishments, goals, etc. The scholarship reviewers should be able to read your essay and feel as if they know you personally.
Download a PDF version of these tips.
13 Tips to Bring Your Scholarship Essay to the Next Level
Applying for scholarships would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for the essay, which often forces us to reflect on ourselves, who we are as people, and what we’ve accomplished so far in life. While it can be the most difficult part of the application, it’s also the most important part.
The Planning Phase
1. plan far in advance, 2. know your audience, 3. follow the instructions & answer the prompt, 4. choose a topic that you’re interested in and passionate about, 5. consider reusing an existing essay., the writing phase, 6. create a strong introduction, 7. keep a good structure, 8. show emotions, 9. use real life examples (“show, don’t tell”), 10. keep the tone inspirational & positive, 11. stay away from dreary & boring conclusions, the editing phase, 12. proofread and ask for help, 13. take advantages of resources, but where you do apply.
The scholarship essay is your chance to make a case for yourself and to show the committee why you deserve to win. It gives you the chance to show your personality and what you’re most proud of in life. Your scholarship application should inform, but your scholarship essay should persuade. Scholarship committees read hundreds, or even thousands, of essays, so making your application stand out from the rest is crucial.
Luckily, you don’t need perfect writing skills to make it happen. With a few scholarship essay tips and tricks in mind, you can easily bring your scholarship application to the next level.
Here are our 13 scholarship essay tips to help you succeed:
If you wait until the last minute to write your scholarship essay, the quality will likely suffer. To make sure that you have enough time for the planning phase, create a calendar ( like this one ) with the deadlines and requirements for all the scholarships you want to apply for. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for brainstorming and proofreading!
Hot tip : If you use Going Merry to find and apply for scholarships , you can save your favorite scholarships, and then our dashboard will keep track of all your upcoming deadlines for you. We’ll even email you reminders so you don’t miss out! Learn more about how Going Merry works here .
The best way to give the scholarship committee what they’re looking for is to actually know what they’re looking for. Figure out who their ideal candidate is and how you fit into that picture. But be careful not to cater to their expectations too much.
Don’t sacrifice your voice and personality to fit the bill. Rather, take a look at your strengths and then determine how you can spin them to become the ideal candidate.
Hot tip : Not sure how to do this? Check out the “Financial Literacy for Hispanic Women” and “Life Happens” scholarship essays here , for examples of past winners who’ve clearly taken the scholarship provider’s missions into account.
It might seem like one of the more obvious scholarship essay tips, but many applicants make their first mistake before they even begin – they don’t read the directions. Exceeding (or not meeting) the word count can hurt your chances since it shows that you didn’t prepare your essay as well as other applicants. Also, double check to make sure you’re responding thoroughly to all parts of the prompt and that you’re following the correct scholarship essay format.
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Your topic can have a heavy impact on how well your essay turns out. If you choose a topic that bores you, you’ll likely bore your reader too! Try to choose a topic that you’re passionate about or that interests you in some way, rather than a topic that you feel you should write about – that way, your personality and excitement can shine through in your writing!
Many scholarship essays use the same essay prompt. Some scholarship providers even use the ones from the Common App or allow you to choose your own topic. This means you can literally copy and paste your essay to submit to multiple applications (yay!).
Other times, scholarships use similar essay prompts, or ask questions that can be answered in the same way. You might be able to slightly change an existing essay, rather than writing a new one altogether. For example, these two prompts can often be answered the same way:
- Discuss a moment or experience that caused significant personal growth.
- Discuss a time when you had to overcome an obstacle.
Since overcoming an obstacle often results in personal growth, if you have an essay for one of these prompts, you can usually tweak it to make it work for the other prompt.
Hot tip : Going Merry makes it easy for you by combining scholarships with similar essay prompts into application bundles . This way, you can apply for multiple scholarships with just one essay. Sign up today .
Since the introduction is what draws the reader into your essay and convinces them to keep going, it should be one of the strongest parts of your essay . Instead of starting off with a general overview, why not hook your reader with a surprising first line?
For example, which of these two opening lines pulls you into the story more? Which one makes you want to keep going?
My first time traveling abroad was during a family vacation to Mexico in 2010.
It was 2010; I had just crossed the border into Mexico and my life was about to change.
The second sentence gives the reader something to look for; it makes them curious about not only how your life changed during your trip but also why it changed. It gives the readers unanswered questions and they have to keep reading to find the answers.
Overall, you’ll want to give your reader a quick preview of what they can expect from your essay – think of it like the written version of a movie trailer. Why should they keep reading?
After the introduction, it’s important to make sure that your reader can follow along with your essay without too much effort. Creating a basic outline is a great way to make sure this happens!
To create an outline, first organize your thoughts. Write down the main points that you definitely want to cover in your essay. Next, organize those thoughts into various sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Your ideas can either be in sentence form, short phrases, or simple words – whatever you prefer! Lastly, make sure your ideas flow in a logical order and, if necessary, add more detail under each point. Check out this source for more information .
Also, try to avoid going off on a tangent by taking the time to determine which information is relevant and which isn’t . Similarly, consider just how much detail you should include. Providing some detail can make your point clearer or more compelling, but too much detail can bog down your essay.
Hot tip : Check out Joseph Lee’s “What makes a good doctor?” essay here , for an example of a well-structured scholarship essay.
Connecting with an audience through writing can be challenging but, when done right, it can create a very powerful connection between the reader and the author. Showing your emotions is a great way to do that and to get the reader personally invested in your essay. Showing emotion can help the reader see you as a person, rather than a faceless author. Even though it’s crucial, it’s one of the scholarship essay tips that people tend to ignore the most.
We all have vulnerabilities, so don’t be afraid to show them. Scholarship committees don’t expect you to be perfect and want to see how you’ve grown as a person and handled the obstacles that life has thrown your way. In fact, opening up about times where you felt nervous or scared demonstrates maturity and self-awareness – two great qualities for a scholarship applicant to have.
Hot tip : Check out Jesus’ winning scholarship essay here, which discusses a really tough moment in his life. It’s a great example of showing vulnerability.
Instead of telling your reader about your experiences, show them. Don’t be afraid to provide real-world examples of your experiences and/or how you’ve changed as a person. Nearly every applicant will have a somewhat similar response to the essay prompt and your personal examples are your chance to transform your essay from generic to unique.
Consider the difference between these two passages explaining why the scholarship applicant wants to pursue a career in science:
VERSION 1: I have always been interested in science, even from a young age. Since my family supported my interest enthusiastically, I continued to pursue it throughout school. As I’ve gotten older, though, my scientific endeavors have become increasingly complex.
VERSION 2: Too young to enter the school science fairs, I took to my family. Force-feeding different animal food to my siblings and parents, I graphed their favorite types. While I was only six, my family has never forgiven me; my “experiments” remain the family joke. Nevertheless, I have progressed from my dog food days, leaving taste tests for DNA gel electrophoresis experiments. [ essay from Lauren Croda ]
Which is more engaging? While Version 1 explains things and may be well-written, it’s a bit boring, right? Version 2 makes the subject come alive and showcases the author’s quirky personality. While anyone (and probably many applicants) could write Version 1, only Lauren could write Version 2. It helps her stand out. That ‘s the power of examples and “show, don’t tell.”
One of the most important scholarship essay tips is based entirely on your perspective and tone. Nobody wants to read a depressing and self-pitying story. Even if you’re writing about difficult or sad events in your life, try and keep the tone positive and inspirational. Rather than just writing about how you were negatively affected by an event, focus on how you grew from the experience and overcame the obstacle.
Most people use the conclusion to simply paraphrase their entire essay…but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Do something surprising and innovative. Make your essay interesting and attention-grabbing from the first letter until the last period.
One great way to bring your conclusion to the next level is to leave your readers with an interesting question for them to think about. For more ideas, check out these helpful tips .
As much as we like to believe that we’re perfect, we all make mistakes…which is why it’s so important to take the time to proofread your essay. One great way to find mistakes is to read your essay out loud. For more ideas, check out these helpful tips .
Once you’ve taken the time to proofread your own essay a few times, have someone else do it for you. Asking a family member or friend for help can provide you with a different perspective on your writing and a second set of eyes might catch a mistake that you didn’t.
When it comes to writing, you don’t have to do it completely on your own. Check out some of our resources including scholarship essay examples from Going Merry winners ,; a breakdown of why these 5 scholarship essays worked; and our guides to writing personal statements , academic goals essays , or career goals essays .
If you’re in college, most schools have a writing center that offers free feedback and guidance to students. They might even have some insightful scholarship essay tips that you (or we!) didn’t think about. Some high schools, communities, or libraries might also have similar services.
Now that you’re writing stellar essays, start applying for scholarships! Here’s a list of 10 scholarship search sites , but we’d just recommend you go straight for the best one: Sign up for free with Going Merry , and then upload your essays to your documents section. Get started with your scholarship applications today.
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5 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out
When writing a scholarship essay, follow these tips to win the most money for college.
Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out
Writing a scholarship essay isn't like writing an essay for a high school class, experts warn.
Students hoping to earn scholarships, a form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid, often must compete with hundreds of other applicants and sometimes for a very limited number of awards.
Free financial aid plays a significant role in helping students in the U.S. pay for college. According to the 2019 How America Pays for College report from Sallie Mae, 31% of college costs in 2018-2019 were paid for with money that does not need to be repaid; three-fifths of that were scholarships and two-fifths were grants.
To get the most of this highly desirable aid, students can take advantage of a few expert-recommended strategies to make their application stand out. Below are a few tips for writing scholarship essays that pack a punch.
Get Personal and Be Specific
The key to a successful scholarship essay is making it personal, experts say, and including impactful details. An essay that feels genuine and offers insights into who the applicant is on a deeper level will stand out in a crowd of academic essays that may be boring for readers who review hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications.
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Scholarships awarded by the Pride Foundation, for example, require an application that involves multiple essays in which students are asked to describe themselves, what they plan to study and the kinds of work they hope to do. The social justice-focused philanthropic foundation aims to support the LGBTQ community in the Northwest region and awards more than 60 scholarships for any accredited postsecondary school or program, according to its website.
College scholarships had an average award amount of about $5,000 to $8,000 last year, says Katelen Kellogg, the foundation's communications and outreach manager. She says the scholarships are for LGBTQ or strongly LGBTQ-allied students who are residents of the Pacific Northwest.
Kellogg, who helps read essays from applicants each year, says the scholarship essays that stand out to her include "details that paint the picture of their lives." She says the most successful essays are "less about something you do and more about who you are as a person."
Eden Shore, a volunteer manager at the Pride Foundation who also has experience reading hundreds of scholarship essays, says the writing process should be meaningful for students – and that comes across in the essay.
"Your essay can be an opportunity for you to make sense of something yourself," Shore says. "Illustrate you can thoughtfully reflect."
Tell a Story
A standout essay hooks the reader from the first sentence, says Monica Matthews, author of the scholarship guide, "How to Win College Scholarships."
Think about the structure of the essay, and how the reader can be drawn in by it, experts say. The story should feel real and true to the student's life.
"Students need to begin with a hook and share personal and tangible details about their life," Matthews wrote in an email. "Simply stating that they have helped others, for example, does not let the judges see the kind of person that they really are. Writing about specific experiences with real-life situations using interesting details makes compelling and memorable essays."
Tailor the Scholarship Essay to the Prompt
In some cases, it may be acceptable and even smart to repurpose an essay the student has already written and use it for another application. But experts say students should exercise caution.
"Many times, students try to re-purpose essays from the admissions process for scholarship essays, and the result ends up being so-so," Colleen Paparella Ganjian, an independent educational consultant and founder of DC College Counseling in Virginia, wrote in an email.
Instead, essays should be on topic and specific to the unique question being asked and the organization to which students are applying.
A typical scholarship essay topic will likely ask students about their career goals and their plan to achieve those goals, Matthews says. Other essay prompts might ask students what they've done to make their community a better place or to describe a personal achievement and how they overcame challenges to reach it.
Don't Tailor Yourself to the Reader
Students often feel they need to project a certain image or side of themselves in scholarship applications and essays. This isn't always necessary.
"The only person an applicant has to be is themselves," Shore says of applicants to the Pride Foundation Scholarship.
The trap of tailoring themselves can be particularly tempting for students who are nontraditional or have an international background, says Mandee Heller Adler, founder and president of International College Counselors based in Florida.
"Don't shy away from talking about your culture, traditions, and experiences. If you're an international applicant , a minority, or non-traditional student, don't try to 'Americanize' or 'mainstream' your application," Heller Adler wrote in an email. "Scholarship committees like diversity, and the goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants. Don't be afraid to expand on details about your culture that are meaningful to you and essential to understanding who you are."
The greatest frustration in reading scholarship application essays, Shore says, is when students fail to follow directions. This means taking note of any formatting specifications, length restrictions and answering the question posed.
"Make sure you're answering the question that has been asked and stay within the word limit you're given," Shore says. "Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. If students are bored by the essay they write, the reader will be too."
Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.
12 Ways to Win a Scholarship
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If you need more money to pay for college, chances are you will be applying for several college scholarships . A great scholarship essay helps the scholarship provider understand the real person behind the application and can be the key to winning the award (assuming you meet the other scholarship criteria).
Scholarship Essays vs. College Essays
Scholarship essays are very similar to your college application essays in terms of strategy. Many scholarship hopefuls will share the same grades, test scores, and ambitions: the essay is your chance to shine (and grow that dream college fund!).
How to Write a Scholarship Essay
When you’re drafting your scholarship essay, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Start the essay writing process early.
Leave yourself plenty of time to produce a well thought-out entry. Take the time to brainstorm your ideas, create an outline, and edit your entry as you would for any essay writing assignment for your English class.
Read More: How to Craft an Unforgettable College Essay
2. Understand the scholarship provider’s overall mission and purpose.
Each scholarship provider is looking for students who meet certain criteria. Consider writing about an experience or interest that highlights your strong ties to the organization’s mission. Genuine passion and enthusiasm for your topic will show through in your essay writing.
3. Follow the scholarship essay instructions.
Make sure to follow all of the necessary steps and review them before submitting your scholarship essay. Trust us, some of the brightest students have missed out on the chance to earn scholarships dollars all because they neglected to follow instructions. You don’t want to fall into that category!
4. Steer clear from essay topics that focus on negativity or pessimism.
Scholarship committees would rather see how you overcame hardships and succeeded despite the obstacles in your path (or what you learned from the times you failed).
Read More: 200 Colleges That Pay You Back
5. Don’t be afraid to get personal.
Share something about who you are. This is your chance to elaborate on elsewhere on your application you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so. Telling your story makes an essay genuine and ultimately more memorable to the scholarship committee.
6. Seek out writing advice and feedback.
Asking teachers, counselors, family members, or trustworthy friends for feedback on your essay will result in a better final product.
7. Yes, spelling and grammar matter.
Scholarship committees do notice grammar mistakes . Eveny tiny errors can distract a reader from your overall message. Before you submit your application make sure you take the time to proofread your essay from beginning to end.
8. Don’t give up!
When you’re tired, take a break, but don’t throw in the towel! Our online essay writing tutors are here for you anytime you get discouraged. We can help with everything from brainstorming and outlining to revising the final draft.
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How to Write a Scholarship Essay
- Read the scholarship essay prompt and instructions
- Outline your scholarship essay
- Start writing your scholarship essay
- Open with a hook
- Use basic writing skills
- Keep your scholarship essay descriptive but concise
- Be professional
- Be creative and different
- Let your voice shine through
- Make your scholarship essay stand out
- Make your conclusion powerful
- Revise and edit your first draft
- Read your scholarship essay out aloud
- Prepare to submit your scholarship essay
Frequently asked questions about writing scholarship essays
How do you write a winning scholarship essay, how do you begin a scholarship essay, do scholarship essays need a title, where do i put my name in a scholarship essay.
- How do you answer "tell me about yourself" in a scholarship essay?
How do you start a scholarship essay about yourself?
What to say when asked why you deserve a scholarship, how do you sell yourself in a scholarship essay, how to make a good impression in a scholarship essay, how long should a scholarship essay be, can i reuse my scholarship essays, where can you find scholarships to apply for, top scholarships with upcoming deadlines.
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Writing a scholarship essay is a required part of many applications as a way for the scholarship committees to learn more about the candidates and their motivations. They have the power to make or break your scholarship application. Because of this, writing a scholarship essay can often seem stressful and daunting.
As a way to ease the essay writing process, we have compiled steps for writing strong scholarship essays, tips to make them stand out to a scholarship committee, and questions students often ask as they begin their scholarship applications. Here are the top scholarship essay tips to earn scholarship money:
- Thoroughly read the prompt and instructions
- Create a solid essay outline
- Start writing early
- Open with a solid hook
- Prioritize basic writing skills
- Keep it descriptive, yet concise
- Be creative
- Let your individual voice shine through
- Stand out from the rest
- Finish with a powerful conclusion
- Read your scholarship essay out loud
Read below for more context and frequently asked questions about scholarship essays and create an account with Bold.org to unlock hundreds of exclusive scholarships ! .
1) Read the scholarship essay prompt and instructions
Always read the prompt before writing. It sounds like a simple suggestion, but if you don't understand what the prompt is asking, you won't be able to properly answer the question. Additionally, do research on the donor to understand the purpose of their scholarship . Many organizations have a mission statement and individual donors are often giving the scholarship in memorial of a loved one. Keep in mind the purpose of the scholarship provider's essay topic so you are able to understand and appreciate the scholarship program.
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Understand what the scholarship committees are asking for, and ensure that you know the word limit, page requirements, and/or other scholarship requirements in advance. If the essay question has multiple parts, pay attention to each part to make sure you are fully answering the question. It seems simple, but a scholarship provider looks to make sure you are properly answering the question.
2) Outline your scholarship essay
Don't start writing blindly. Once you have a good understanding of the scholarship essay prompts, make note of what you want to say and in what order . How do you want to open it? What are the key points you want to address? Answering questions like these can help ensure your essay is cohesive and well-written.
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3) Start writing your scholarship essay
Don't wait until the last minute to start writing your scholarship essay. The earlier you start writing your essay, the more time you have to plan, write, and edit. You have a better chance at success if you start early , rather than waiting until just before the scholarship application deadline to begin.
4) Open with a hook
Now that you have your scholarship essay format, it's time to begin the writing process. When you read strong scholarship essay examples, they almost always lead with something insightful or intriguing. Grab the reader's attention in a way that encourages them to read on. Don't start with a quote, a dictionary definition, or a generic cliché. Make what you have to say original , and show the committee right off the bat that you have something to say.
5) Use basic writing skills
Never underestimate the importance of good writing skills. Whether you're a high school student or a college student, using proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar is extremely important . Scholarship applications will be more credible, and it will show donors you have put thought and care into your essay.
6) Keep your scholarship essay descriptive but concise
As you get into your main paragraphs, remember that you are telling some sort of story. If your writing is bland and provides little detail, you are less likely to illustrate your point. Using the "show, don't tell" method is a helpful way to keep your writing interesting and descriptive. At the same time, don't go overboard with your descriptions. Be detailed, but don't let that cover up the point of your essay.
7) Be honest
Not every essay prompt is easy to answer. However, it is important that you are honest in what you write about in your essay. Don't make up a story that you think sounds impressive. A personal statement is looking to hear about what makes you special, not what stories you can create to make yourself sound more qualified.
8) Be professional
One of the most important scholarship essay tips to remember is to be professional. Put personality in your writing, but remember that you aren't talking to your best friend or sending a text. In other words, steer clear of slang words, excessive punctuation, and text lingo .
9) Be creative and different
The review committee will read many essays when choosing who will receive their scholarship award. When deciding who they give the scholarship money to, the review committee will look for essays that stand out . This means combining all of the scholarship essay tips from above to create a scholarship application that highlights your strengths, uniqueness, and personality. Be personal and follow scholarship essay tips, and you will write a compelling essay.
10) Let your voice shine through
Scholarship essays are brief but give you the time to tell the scholarship committee who you are and why you are the best candidate for the scholarship. Robotic and strictly informative essays may be technically adequate, but if you want your essay to stand out, make your personal statement personal. Showcase your personality in a way that is professional but shows the committee what makes you special.
11) Make your scholarship essay stand out
It's easy to write just anything, but it's harder learning how to write a scholarship essay that stands out from all the other scholarship essays the committees receive. If you want your scholarship to be creative and unique, steer clear of common clichés , song lyrics, and quotes. Scholarship committees want to hear what you have to say, not what somebody else already said.
The best essay examples are those that tell a clear story. While you may be tempted to share your whole life story in a scholarship essay, not every moment from your life is relevant to the essay prompt. Plus, the word count often doesn't allow this anyway. Instead, pick a key moment that highlights your character, your accomplishments, or something that you feel passionate enough about to write about. Stick to a scholarship essay format that allows you to share about yourself while still being concise and answering the essay prompts.
12) Make your conclusion powerful
When thinking about how to write a scholarship essay, remember the importance of a powerful beginning and ending. The end of your essay is the last thing read and therefore is the last thing the reader remembers. Bring the scholarship essay full circle without making general statements, such as "this is why you should pick me as your scholarship winner."
13) Revise and edit your first draft
No matter how good of an essay you've written, there is always room for improvement. Rough drafts are just the start . Take the time to look at your scholarship essay with a critical eye, pinpointing areas you can improve for the finalized draft.
14) Read your scholarship essay out aloud
A helpful part of the reviewing process is reading your essay out loud. This will allow you to catch mistakes you may not have noticed in your first edits. It also helps you get a sense of the essay's flow . When you read your scholarship essay out loud, ask yourself if there are parts that sound unnatural, forced, or out of place.
15) Prepare to submit your scholarship essay
Before submitting your scholarship essay, double-check that your spelling and grammar are correct, that you answered the essay prompt, and that you met the word count. If you have given yourself enough time to complete the essay before the deadline, you will have had the chance to review your essay before submitting it. Don't wait until the last minute to submit , so that there is no panic if something goes wrong before the deadline.
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There are so many questions that come with writing essays, but we've chosen to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about how to write essays, ways to win scholarships, etc. You can learn more about how to apply for scholarships in this guide .
Earning financial aid from scholarship programs is heavily reliant on the strength of the essay submission. Just like writing college applications, the scholarship essay process takes thought and is often focused on the applicant's life or experiences. Because the topic often focuses on the student's life, it is helpful for students to think back to important moments in their life, ranging from experiences at a young age to middle school times up through the present.
Take these experiences and be creative , writing about personal lessons and experiences, rather than relying on clichés. Use what you're passionate about, for an essay about your dream school or career goals would be more compelling than one simply listing test scores and academic performance successes.
Follow the essential tips from above, layout a strategic essay structure, and submit the best representation of you. There isn't a guarantee for earning this financial aid through scholarships, but following these suggestions will give you a higher chance for future success on scholarships.
Open your first paragraph with something interesting that hooks the reader. At the same time, avoid corny statements and overly dramatic retellings. Don't tell the reader what you're going to do, such as saying "in this essay, I will..." for this is unnecessary. Use your intro to pique the reader's interest , while still giving an idea of what your essay will be about.
This depends on the scholarship. Some essays may require or request a title, but most scholarships on Bold.org do not have a place to add a title. They are rarely required for Bold.org essays, but there are still exceptions. Additionally, other scholarships sites may prefer essays to be titled .
This is another circumstance that depends on where you are applying for the scholarship. On Bold.org , you are submitting your application using your profile , so your name has already been shared in the application. Because of this, it is not necessary to include your name in the essay. Preferences may change depending on where you are applying for scholarships.
How do you answer "tell me about yourself" in a scholarship essay?
This question can be answered in so many different ways, but the most effective essays write less about academic credentials and more about interesting lessons and experiences that make them unique. If filled out thoroughly, your profile should already display your credentials, so use this space to share unique information about yourself, such as experience in the performing arts, time spent in a study abroad program, reasoning behind a college double major, work as an international student, and so on. Each person has a story; use this space to share it .
One of the hardest parts of writing an essay about yourself is figuring out how to start. You want to sell yourself but still be humble, come across as fun but not stupid, show your strengths without ripping on others, etc. So, how should you start?
Don't start with a basic list of your accomplishments, for that doesn't draw readers into your essay. Begin with a hook that illustrates the point of your essay, without explicitly saying it. There is no right or wrong way to start your essay as long as you promote your strengths without being boastful. This is a difficult line to teeter on, but if you are able to showcase yourself in a genuine way, your chances of receiving scholarship financial aid will be much higher.
Scholarships essays are a great place to show off your achievements, experiences, and personality, and this doesn't have to be in an arrogant way! Use a prompt about why you are deserving to share your story. When people know more about you, it becomes more apparent why you are qualified for the scholarship.
Use this section to show how you excel in different areas, giving examples, instead of simply saying that you are adequate in those fields. Share about your community service experiences, talk about your post-secondary education or plans to attend college, and include a note of how many scholarships you are earned in the past and what they were for. Don't be afraid to highlight your credibility, but do it in a way that gives examples . The "show, don't tell" technique is preached throughout schooling, and these essays are a perfect time to put that skill to use.
After you lead into your essay with a strong hook, begin by focusing on your morals and personal strengths. Do this in a way that doesn't just say you are strong in a certain area but shows it. Maybe this is a personal anecdote that shows your helpfulness, or maybe it's an example of your previous awards to demonstrate your academic excellence. Focus less on general academic achievement and more on specific awards, extracurricular activities, community service, and other notable accomplishments.
If your profile already shows your GPA, research experience, awards, and other information in your bio, don't feel that you have to go into depth with a specific list of all of your academic achievements. Stick to the aspects of your resumé that are individual to you , and you'll be more likely to find success in the different scholarship opportunities you apply for.
Many of the things to put in a scholarship essay have already been mentioned, but it is also important to mention what should not be added to an essay. In making a good impression on the scholarship committee, you must ensure that your message is clear. Avoid getting into controversial topics that detract from the focus of your essay, and stay on track to show your organization and thoughtfulness in approaching the scholarship application.
Additionally, don't flat-out say you need the money, even if you are in desperate need of financial assistance. Begging for money or using lack of financial stability as a way of appealing to the committee does not send a good message and often reflects badly on the rest of your application . If you do mention your economic background, do it in a respectful way that doesn't come across as offensive to the donors.
The committees ask the questions they do to get a good judge of a person's ambitions, interests, and most importantly, character. There are possibly many reasons you deserve this scholarship, but many other students are worthy too. Don't insult other applicants in order to make yourself look better. At the end of the day, you can only control yourself, so keep the focus on the positives about you, instead of the negatives about other people.
Most, if not all, scholarship essays have a required word count range for your essay to stay between. Look at this when reading the prompt and preparing to write your essay so that you have an idea of how much to write. Keep your essay well inside the range to be safe.
Strong essays are less reliant on the number of words and paragraphs and more reliant on the quality of the writing. A 400-word essay packed with power can be more effective than a 1000-word essay that is poorly written. Because of this, it is less important to worry about what the committee will think of the length of your essay, as long as it's within the limit, and more important to make your scholarship effective.
In some cases, it is okay to use the same essay, but be aware of what the question is asking and the purpose of the scholarship. For example, if you are applying to a computer science scholarship that wants to know about your interests in the subject, don't use an essay that focuses on your relationship with your family members.
If the prompt is the same for several scholarships and you want to reuse an essay, there is no rule against it. However, be aware of the little changes you can make to improve the applications for various scholarships .
Scholarships are a great way to combat student loans , and Bold.org's mission is to help reduce the cost of student debt, providing a scholarship opportunity for all sorts of people, with different experiences, educations, and interests. In addition to looking for local scholarships in your area, and scholarships offered by your college, use Bold.org as a starting point to find scholarships that are right for you!
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