7 Helpful Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay
In the US, 86% of college students need some form of financial aid. If you're off to college soon, or are already in school, then it's very likely that you're one of those in need.
While you can certainly get grants and take out loans, another popular method of getting financial aid is through scholarships. Some you can apply directly for, but others require essays.
If you're applying for a scholarship and aren't sure where to begin, then don't worry. We're here with 7 helpful tips for writing your scholarship essay.
1. Carefully Read the Instructions First
You might be eager to get started on your essay, but make sure you don't jump the gun. After all, you can write a beautiful essay but if you didn't follow the instructions, yours won't even be considered.
So before you put your pen to paper, go over the instructions carefully. Each scholarship essay will have its own requirements, such as particular formatting (font and font size) and word count.
Make sure you understand the prompt as well. All too often, students deviate from it and end up on tangents. You want your scholarship essay to be completely focused and on target so you stand out from the crowd.
2. Talk About Something You Actually Like
Some scholarship questions are more open-ended, which means you can choose to answer them in a variety of ways. But most students make a huge mistake: they put down answers they think the essay readers want to see instead of answering in a genuine fashion.
Every if you're a great writer, there will be a huge difference in tone when you write about something you actually care about. The essay readers will be able to see the passion behind your words, so don't be afraid to write about something you like or enjoy, even if it's something they might not expect.
3. Always Be Honest
On that note, you always want to be honest when writing about your life experiences. Many students feel like their experiences aren't very interesting, so they embellish some details in an attempt to generate more interest in their essay.
However, you'd be surprised at just how impressive your "simple" life experiences might be.
For example, you might've volunteered at a soup kitchen for the last 2 years. Instead of exaggerating and saying you "changed the lives of countless helpless souls," it can be impactful just to say something like "for the last 2 years, I've volunteered at a soup kitchen every weekend and feel accomplished at helping out my community."
4. Be Confident, but Not Arrogant
Most often, scholarship essay prompts will ask you about your achievements. Again, being honest is the best thing to do, but you want to convey the right tone here.
Some people might try to download their accomplishments while others tend to brag. You want to find a good middle ground where you can describe your achievements in an assertive way.
If you're having trouble doing so, it might be useful to bounce some ideas with your classmates or peers. They might be able to help you come up with better wording.
5. Start Early
We know that writing a scholarship essay can be daunting. But leaving it until the last minute can be very detrimental. While you might be able to crank out an essay in a few hours, the quality won't be as good as if you'd given it plenty of time.
As a general rule of thumb, you should get started at least 2 weeks before the due date. When you aren't pressured for time, you can do some of your best thinking. It'll also give you some leeway in case something comes up, such as an illness or emergency.
6. Put Together a Plan
You shouldn't just write your essay haphazardly, even after you've carefully gone over the prompt and other instructions. You'll want to sit down to brainstorm ideas and then put together a plan of attack.
After brainstorming, you might be able to create a rough outline of where you want to mention certain topics in your essay. This means you won't forget about key details that you want to convey. It can also help you form a strong and concrete thesis statement.
7. Edit, Edit, Edit
It's very rare that a first or even second draft is the best essay you can write. You should never turn in a scholarship essay without editing it several times.
When you've been working on something a lot, it can be hard to spot problem areas. To mitigate this, have someone else read your essay over. Fresh eyes can quickly see where a phrase might be awkward or too full of passive voice.
Lastly, after your rounds of edits, you need to proof your work too. Just one small misspelling can put your scholarship essay out of the running, so you want to make sure you stand the best chances of securing that scholarship!
Go through your paper with a fine-tooth comb so it's flawless. Having a good writer be your second pair of eyes can be helpful here as well.
Write a Fantastic Scholarship Essay
Now that you have some helpful tips for writing a scholarship essay, it's time to get started. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time, read the prompt thoroughly, plan out your essay, and edit/proof it.
Most importantly, stay true to yourself and write from the heart. It might be tempting to exaggerate, but keeping things simple will work out best for you.
With our scholarship tips, you'll have a good chance of being selected. So put them to use and good luck!