How to Write a Scholarship Winning Essay

You’ve reached high school graduation and now it’s time to start thinking about college and how much it costs.

If it weren’t for the essay, knocking out a few dozen scholarship applications would be easy. Unfortunately, they exist and they require to reflect on our lives and what we’ve accomplished. Though difficult, it is important to be able to do this well.

There are a number of ways to write a scholarship essay that is going to make a case for who you are as a student and show scholarship committees why you deserve that scholarship.

Scholarship essays aren’t only meant to inform, but also persuade the committee that you are the right choice. Your writing doesn’t need to be perfect to make that happen, but you’ll need a way to stand out from the hundreds, if not thousands, of essays that committees read.

Surviving the college admissions process is already a lot of work, There are university applications and college admissions essays to complete, and financial aid applications to turn in.

Fortunately, with some of the scholarship essay tips below, you could be on your way to winning scholarships and giving your family members a bit of peace of mind when it comes to answering the question of how to pay for college.

Plan Ahead

Throughout high school, you’ve undoubtedly written numerous research papers and essays. It goes without saying that the first step is to plan your essay. Make sure you have enough time by getting an early start on the process. Create a calendar of deadlines for scholarships you are applying to, and give yourself deadlines of when to complete each step of the essay process.

Before you start writing, create an outline based on the essay prompt to ensure that your essay follows the instructions. You don’t want to submit an essay that is off-topic.

Follow Instructions

Make sure that you read and follow any instructions that come along with the essay. Many applicants hamstring their chances before they begin by not simply following directions.

Exceeding or not meeting the required word count, not answering the essay question, or straying away from the essay’s topics are all signs that you have not paid attention to the instructions. This could hurt your chances as it shows that you weren’t prepared to write the essay.

Winning the scholarship is at stake and you don’t want to start with a disadvantage because you haven’t read the instructions.

Know the Audience

Give the scholarship committee what they’re looking for. Do some research to learn what they are looking for in a candidate first yourself into that mold. However, don’t cater to the committee so much that your essay comes across as a template that you’ve been using for dozens of essays. Stick to your voice and personality to give them a genuine view of who you are.

Choose the Right Topic

Choosing the right topic can be the difference between success and failure when writing a scholarship essay. A boring topic will not only bore you, but it’ll bore the reader, too. Choose a topic that you’re passionate about or that you can find an interest in instead of a topic that you feel you should write about. Readers know when you have an emotional investment in an essay. If they can tell you don’t care about the topic, they’ll think you don’t care about winning the scholarship. Once, you’ve chosen the topic, it’s important that you are able to stay on topic and make sure that your essay has a point.

Crush Your Introduction

Start your essay with a strong introduction to grab the reader quickly and hit the ground running. The right introduction could help your essay stand out from others within the first two lines. As the introduction is what convinces the reader to continue reading or throw the essay into the scrap pile, it should be the strongest part of your essay. Hook the reader in with a surprise while giving them a preview of what they can expect from your essay.

Give the Reader a Surprise

Essay topics are widely available on the internet. It is possible to overprepare and present an essay that is as cookie-cutter as the next. Everyone’s biggest influence is their mother or father, yours doesn’t have to be as well.

When presented with a well-worn topic, don’t answer in the way that you assume everyone else will. Add some personal flavor and make your essay more interesting by giving a surprising answer to a common essay topic.

Maintain Good Structure

Once you’ve got the introduction down, it’s important to make sure that you don’t lose your reader with poor essay structure. This is why you took the time to write the outline before you started writing. If you haven’t written one, now is a good time to create an outline to organize your thoughts.

Make note of all of the main points that you want to cover in your essay and build on your ideas from there. More importantly, make sure that there is a logical flow to your ideas. One of the worst things that you can do is stray from your point and go off on a tangent. Determine what information is relevant before you start writing.

If necessary, be as detailed as possible in your outline to make the writing process flow easier. 

Use Real Examples

Don’t tell your reader about your experiences, show them. Give concrete examples of experiences you’ve had and how those experiences have helped you become the person that you are. Almost all applicants will have similar responses to an essay prompt. It will be your personal experiences and examples that will give you a chance to transform your essay into something the is unique.

Show Your Emotions

While challenging, it can create a powerful connection between reader and author to show your emotions when writing your essay. Show that you are personally invested in your essay, and the reader will become invested in your essay, too.

It will also allow the reader to see you as a person instead of one of any number of scholarship applicants. Write about things you are passionate about, what drives you to success, or your career goals. The committee will want to see how you’ve grown and handled obstacles in life. Show them.

Being vulnerable about times you were nervous or afraid shows maturity and self-awareness which are two great qualities to have.

Strike the Right Tone

Make sure that you keep your tone positive. It can be a drag to read something that is depressing. Even if the topic is a difficult or sad event, stay positive and inspirational. When writing, don’t focus on the negative aspects of an event. Instead, show how it helped you grow into the person that you’ve become and how overcoming that obstacle has helped you face future challenges in life.

End on a High Note

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box for your conclusion. The conclusion can be more than a summary of your essay. Instead of rephrasing or restating your original these, answer the question, “So what?”End your essay with something surprising to give your essay one last chance to come across as interesting and attention-grabbing. One great method is to give readers an interesting question to take away from your essay.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

We all make mistakes. No writer is going to pen a perfect essay. That’s why you should take the time to go back and proofread your essay — multiple times if time permits. Nothing is more off-putting for a reader than bad spelling or incorrect grammar and punctuation. Scholarship judges read many essays and the last thing you want to do is to give them a reason to kick your essay out of the pile without reading it.

Once you’ve proofread your essay, ask someone else to read it, too. Someone else may have different thoughts on your writing and they may be able to catch mistakes that you didn’t.

Another great tip when in the editing phase is to read the essay out loud. This gives you the opportunity to hear any grammar or syntax errors and will highlight spelling mistakes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Reuse Your Essays

If you are applying for a lot of essays, you may be able to reuse your essay with some slight adjusting. You can save yourself tons of time by taking the time to read where scholarship essay prompts overlap and tweaking your essay to fit as many scholarships as possible.

By saving yourself hours on writing new essays, you’ll be able to focus on a handful of them and make them the best that they can be.

Seek Out Resources

If you are having trouble writing yourself, don’t be afraid to turn to other resources. If you’re in school, there is likely a writing center that can provide assistance to students.

Of course, the internet is a great wealth of information. Sometimes, a simple Google search is all you need to answer the question that you have.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to writing scholarship essays that wow committees. Implement them when you’re writing your next essay and you’ll surely have a leg up on the competition.

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