There are tons of different scholarship programs waiting for their perfect candidates. Some will take into account the applicant's outstanding accomplishments in sports, music, or art. Others are granted solely on the basis of academic achievements. There are also financial aid opportunities designed specifically for students of particular race, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Even if you 100 % match the program's main requirement, you still need to prove it. That is what a scholarship essay is for. So let's have a closer look at this element of the financial aid application process.
What Is a Scholarship Essay?
A scholarship essay is the type of paper written by a person who is planning to get financial support for further studies. It gives applicants the opportunity to showcase their abilities, strengths, and unique traits. At the same time, it allows the selection committee to get to know the potential award recipients and learn their stories. Therefore, the jury can make a more informed decision.
How to Write an Essay for a Scholarship?
Writing a scholarship essay is not a piece of cake, especially if you want to do it well. Though this kind of paper is not that different from other essay types, there is one notable distinction. With the scholarship application essay, it's you, your personal traits and accomplishments that become the main consideration. So you have to be extra good in your thesis to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual who deserves to be granted this award.
Practical Scholarship Essay Tips
There is no one-size-fits-all recipe on how to craft a personal statement that can get you the scholarship money you need to fund your dream education. You have to trust yourself and work persistently towards your goal. Here are some guidelines that will help you navigate through the writing process.
The inspiration can strike in the most unlikely places, so get ready for that.
Light bulb moments often happen when you least expect them, so gird yourself to embrace your creative genius wherever you are. With the myriads of thoughts spinning in your head, it is a nice habit to capture the ideas right when they come. The memory can fail you. Don't delude yourself by thinking that your mind is a filing cabinet where all your ideas will be labeled and stored until you need them. It's better to collect them in one place outside your brain so that you can retrieve them later on.
You can create a dedicated Google doc and then add new info from any of your gadgets. You might try recording audio clips on your phone to make sure none of the essay concepts skips your memory. It's also convenient to keep a memo block at hand or carry around a notebook to write down your thoughts. There are several great note-taking methods that can help you organize your ideas so that you can come back to them afterward.
Create a roadmap for where you're going.
Growing the organic idea pool will help to overcome one of the main roadblocks many students encounter on their way to the winning application for financial aid. That is: "What should I write in a scholarship essay?". When you have plenty of options to choose from, it's much easier to identify the story that expresses who you are the best. With the precise vision of your essay's focus, you can outline the things you'd like to share in your personal statement.
The most significant point to remember during the planning process is that your writing should clearly demonstrate the connection between your educational and life goals and the opportunity you are applying for. Elaborate on the experiences that have influenced your decision to select the stated major or career path. Describe the events and circumstances that pushed you in the direction of your future goals. Tell your readers about the personal challenges you had to face along your life journey. Outline your essay in a way that every bit of it becomes realistic proof that you're the best candidate for this scholarship award.
Carefully read the scholarship essay prompts.
Most schools and private organizations that offer assistance with higher education costs are curious to discover who you are, what you care about, and what value you can bring to the community. The judging panel yearns to see how bigger financial freedom can affect your future development. In order to figure that out, the scholarship committee usually provides applicants with the essay statement they should respond to.
The prompt topic can be built around the student's educational ambitions. Applicants might be asked to write about a historical figure they look up to. The prompt can require to share the story where you have demonstrated leadership or applied an innovative approach to solving a problem. Regardless of the topic, you should try to see beyond the surface and identify the key issue you have to address. Go through the essay statement several times to be sure you understand what's really been asked from you. Your goal is to fit your narrative neatly to the prompt requirements without devaluing your experiences. So try to strike the right balance between the judge's expectations and your unique story.
Highlight your resilience and future aspirations.
Your essay is not a place for a pity party. Even when the scholarship prompt specifically asks about the hardships in your life, don't take it as a green light to weep at your past. When addressing the constraints you've faced, discuss how you've dealt with those challenging circumstances, acknowledge the way they shaped your personality, or share the lessons you've learned.
When working on your essay draft, keep in mind that your main task is not just to ask for money nicely. Your aim is to show your sense of purpose to the donor organization or university scholarship committee. As they intend to invest in your future, you need to express your potential, assert your aptitudes, and describe your anticipated role in society once your educational goals will be achieved. Your essay's focus should be on your development and not on the conditions which have affected your current financial situation.
Turn your scholarship application essay into a gripping narrative.
Once you have a clear plan of what you want to say in your essay, it's time to move to the next step — telling your story. There is no better way to stand out from a heap of seemingly identical scholarship applications than to place your audience inside an enthralling narrative that will paint a striking portrait of who you are.
Storytelling is not some magic craft, it's a compelling system of rules one needs to grasp and apply. Every good story starts with a strong opening statement that works like a hook captivating the attention of your audience. Then, to build a coherent narrative, you should guide your readers through the series of "what next?" moments. The best formula here is to divide the body of your essay into a few paragraphs, each of them discussing a specific detail that relates to the main topic. Don't try to explain things, provide the examples that illustrate your point. You can enrich your writing by telling relevant personal anecdotes, sharing your insights, or appealing to the emotional side of your tale. When you get to the homestretch, round up your story so that the reader can form a full mental picture of you and your world.
Be proud, but stay humble.
Taking pride in your achievements is an absolutely natural thing, and your essay for scholarship should bring those moments into the spotlight. It is your chance to tell the committee about your past success and a way to promote your best qualities. A well-thought account of your proven accomplishments will instill in them confidence in your subsequent progress. The important thing here is not to allow yourself to be taken over by arrogance or try to appear superior to other applicants.
Don't mix up a scholarship essay with a resume.
Most scholarship essays have a pretty limited word count, so you won't have much room to fit all the highlights of your autobiography. Leave out the citation of facts related to your academic formation, qualifications, and skills. You will have a CV for those.
Your personal statement should discuss hobbies, pursuits, or passions that make you stand out. That doesn't mean your thesis has to become a long and tedious list of all the activities you have ever been engaged in. The key element of how to write a good scholarship essay is to focus on quality, not quantity. Single out one central incident, challenge, interest, or pastime you want to emphasize and turn it into a dazzling story that lets your personality shine through.
Beware of the writing pitfalls.
Writing a creative essay is not only about picking the right story and letting your imagination run wild. You need to keep the readers engaged. But despite the perfect opener, progressive development of your argument, and ingenious metaphors, some things can still spoil the impression of your writing. Here are some writing tips that will help to avoid those slip-ups in your text, and help you craft an impeccable paper:
- Resist the temptation of embellishing your essay with flowery language. Make sure your sentences are clear and concise.
- No fluff or filler. Back up your points by facts, customized information, and relevant examples.
- Get the throat-clearing expressions out of your text. Avoid cluttering your thesis with the lengthy introductory phrases that add little to no sense to your writing.
- Speak in your own voice. Don't use big words just to sound smarter or impress your readers.
- Steer clear from clichés and platitudes. Skip those overused phrases in favor of your original thoughts and fresh concepts.
- Shrink from writing moral-of-the-story endings. The reader should know they are entering the final stretch of your paper based on the content of the concluding paragraph.
Scholarship Essay Structure
The key to a winning scholarship essay is being genuine and authentic. Write about the things you care about and let the words come from the heart. At the same time, your statement should be meaningful, thoughtful, and well organized. The structure helps to shape your writing in a way that works towards resolving your argument while keeping you focused on the main point. As mentioned earlier, every good story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Applying this tried-and-true structure will give you such a framework:
The function of the first paragraph of your essay is to tell the readers about you and the values you live by. It should paint a vivid picture of the experience you chose to share in your thesis. It has to give the scholarship committee members an incentive to continue reading the entire piece.
There is no one right way how to start a scholarship essay. You can use a flashback to get underway with your story. Another way to begin is to place the reader directly into the midst of the action and then gradually tell the events that occurred prior to it. The introduction part might also be a snapshot of where do you see yourself 10 years down the line when you are already living your dream. You can also come out of the gates straight by debunking a common interpretation of the issue suggested by the essay prompt.
Writing an attention-grabbing opening might be a tricky thing. If you are not sure how to introduce yourself in a scholarship essay, it may be worthwhile to channel your efforts to the main part of the text and come back to the first paragraph later.
This is the core of your scholarship essay. It is the part where you write about your previous experiences, highlight significant achievements, elaborate on your academic goals, share college plans, career ambitions, and future aspirations. You have to form a smooth and compelling narrative thread that will tie those bits together.
Your essay's body should comprise 2 to 3 paragraphs. It's a good practice to have one new idea per passage. For example, when addressing essay prompts topic related to the adversities in your life, you can break down your writing to such points:
- What has been a significant challenge in your life?
- How did you overcome this tough situation?
- How did it influence your life choices?
As a result, the main part of the scholarship application essay may look something like this:
... Growing up, I struggled to communicate in a way everyone else does. It's not that I don't have any meaningful ideas to share, but every time I try to articulate my thoughts, they come out as a gibbering mess. It seems as if my lips, jaw, and tongue don't know how to produce accurate sounds and words. For fifteen years, apraxia of speech held me captive in my mind, depriving me of human connection and intimacy.
It was my freshman year at high school when I discovered the language of melodies and harmonies, the language that doesn't need words to convey senses. Through music, I express myself. My muffled feelings, unspoken fears, and untold stories finally get manifested. The ivories are my words, and the piano is my speech. When I play, I feel capable and confident. I find my own voice.
Music encouraged me to explore the world and move beyond my limitations. Last year my passion brought me to Paris, where I participated in the International Competition for Outstanding Piano Amateurs. It was my greatest pleasure and a big honor to perform on the same stage that once welcomed Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour.
That week in France instilled in me the need to take my skills to the next level. I want to be able to help people like myself overcome their challenges with the healing power of music. So I choose to pursue a degree in music therapy...
Take it as the climax of your story. It should explain why the rest of your essay was important, kind of summarize all of its major points.
You can wrap up your thesis with a declaration of why you aspire to a career in the desired field. The conclusion can be a brief description of how the scholarship money will help you to pursue your life goals. Another option on how to end a scholarship essay is to affirm your determination to work for the benefit of society after completing your degree. Your final statement can also bring into the spotlight how your ambitions and personal objectives align with the mission of the organization that is offering financial aid.
With scholarship application writing, it might be hard to get things right the first time. So once you've finished your draft, read through it and check whether your essay responds appropriately to the prompt. Make sure that your arguments add up to a complete and coherent story with flawless narrative order. Try reading your essay aloud to see if there are still any inconsistencies or confusing parts. When you stumble upon some phrase or find the sentence that is too complicated, tweak your wording so that it flows easily.
A good writer would revise and rewrite their text many times. So one of the best scholarship essays tips is to edit, cut, and polish your writing until it's honed to perfection. And when working on your final draft, pay particular attention to the following aspects:
- Spelling and grammar. Once you are done with writing, take a day or two away from the essay. Then read your paper with fresh eyes so you can catch any deviations. Make befitted edits to fix faulty punctuation and remove all the typos or wrong-word errors that have made their way into your text.
- Word limit. Most scholarship application guidelines will state a maximum word count for your essay. Make sure you are within the set limit. In some cases, your personal statement might not be taken into consideration if you fail to follow those instructions.
- Formatting. When it comes to the essay format, don't turn your writing into the art project. Keep your work professional, and adhere to the requirements of the organization you are applying to. If you are not provided with the special formatting directive, stick to the standard: use Times New Roman font, size 12, double-space your paper, and set one-inch margins on the top, bottom, and both sides of the page.
Writing a winning scholarship essay can be a daunting experience, but with careful planning and some effort, you can nail that task. In case you need extra help, you can contact our professional team of experts that provide academic writing services. You can order the service of writing, editing, or proofreading. Order an essay and be one step closer to your dream.