Scholarship essays are an essential part of your scholarship application. They give you an opportunity to showcase who you are. Scholarship committees reading your “Why I Deserve This Scholarship” essay don’t only want to read about your high GPA or test scores. A GPA may show how much you worked in high school, but the challenges you’ve overcome tell much more about you.
Many scholarships require you to submit an essay. Unfortunately, many students see this as more work that isn’t worth it. So, they only search for scholarships which don’t require essays.
But, some of the best scholarships require an essay. Sure, a lottery scholarship for $1,000 may be easier to apply to. But you’ll be up against more students, and your chances of winning will be smaller.
You shouldn’t be deterred by scholarship essays. If you ignore all scholarships that require essays, you’ll be missing out on some really great opportunities.
Writing an essay isn’t easy. But, with the right tools, you can do it. Here are the best tips on how to write a scholarship essay.
Know Your Audience
Once you find a scholarship you want to apply to, spend some time researching the organization behind the scholarship. What does it do? What does it stand for and what is its mission? You should write your scholarship essay in a way that speaks to its mission. If the organization awards students with leadership skills, think about a time you acted as a leader and incorporate this into your personal statement.
It can also be helpful to look at the past winners of the scholarship. This will give you a good sense of the type of student they are looking for.
While it’s important you cater your essay to your audience, be mindful of authenticity. In other words, don’t present yourself as somebody you’re not. Your readers will pick up on the lack of authenticity in your personal statement. The real you is good enough, and that’s what scholarship committees want to see.
You’ve probably been hearing this one since elementary school writing classes. Now put to practice what you’ve been learning for years. We can’t stress enough the importance of “showing, not telling”. Don’t just tell the reader that you worked hard in high school. Show your readers what it felt like to balance studying, band practice, and taking care of your younger brother.
It’s great to talk about your challenges, but do so without creating a sob story. Your scholarship essay isn’t the place to vent your emotions. Instead, show readers how your challenges have helped you get to where you are today.
Your 4.0 GPA and 30 ACT score are impressive, there’s no doubt about that. But, there are hundreds of other scholarship applicants with the same academic background as you. So, why should the scholarship committee choose you over somebody else? This should always be in your mind as you’re writing.
So maybe you weren’t the captain of your football team or the first in your family to go to college. That doesn’t mean you don’t offer something unique to offer. Everybody does. Do you have an interesting hobby or talent? Have you overcome a challenge in your life? Highlight whatever trait you have to set yourself apart.
One of the most common mistakes students make is waiting for the last minute to start working on their scholarship essays. A good scholarship essay takes time to put together.
Spend a few weeks working on your essay. Brainstorm the essay topic, make an outline, write, and revise.
By far, the most important piece of advice we have for you is to revise your work. And not just once, but a few times. Your work needs to be in tip-top shape. Nothing looks worse than an essay with grammar or spelling mistakes. Pass it along to family and friends so they can revise it, too.
One thing that helps while editing is to take a day off in between edits. This allows your eyes to catch mistakes that they might not have caught before.
Scholarships are the best way to reduce debt and pay for college. Apply for as many scholarships as possible, and don’t overlook scholarships with essay questions because they require more work. Applying for scholarships does take work, but if you follow our tips and invest some time into it, you can write a great essay.
As the marketing director at ScholarshipOwl, Melanie works towards helping students understand why scholarships are the best and fastest route to graduating debt free from college. She has over 14 years experience in marketing & is an expert on Generation Z behavior.