Winning a college scholarship is far from an easy task. You need to work hard and prove your value. Yes, you’ve got your academic credits on your side. But so do hundreds of other applicants. And they all want the same scholarship. So, how can you stand out? The best chance you’ve got is your scholarship essay. Writing a brilliant college scholarship essay is a challenge. You want to show all your best qualities. You want to stand out. And, most importantly, you want them to memorize you. All of this may sound like too much to handle. In reality, all you need is proper guidance. That’s why we’ve put together a list of outstanding scholarship essay tips.
Here are 12 helpful tips for writing a winning college scholarship essay.
You’re probably inexperienced in writing college scholarship essays. This is why you need to start reading. The best way to prepare is to search for other scholarship essays. Find examples of others students’ scholarship essays. It’ll get you going. Find samples online. Then, read at least half a dozen a day. Make notes about:
- Vocabulary choices
- Style of writing
- Interesting topics
- Opening lines
- Level of personal and formal
But, remember. You’re not doing this to copy anyone’s essay. You just want to get in the mood for writing. Using other’s work as a reference will only help you prepare for the task as much as you can.
2. Do research
Now the reading stage is over. It’s time to do some thorough research. Focus on the scholarship provider. You need to investigate who they are. Learn about why they’re giving out the scholarship. It’ll help you write a better essay. You’ll learn how to rise to their standards. To make sure you’ve got it covered, research organization’s:
- Reasons for giving out the scholarship
They’ll explain what kind of student they’re looking for. But, you need to dig deeper. Learn about the provider as much as you can. You’ll use this information in your essay.
3. Examine the prompts
With each college scholarship essay come the essay writing prompts. Those are the questions and topic determiners. You need to use them when writing your answer. Most commonly, those include questions such as:
- Tell us about your biggest contribution to your community?
- Why do you deserve this scholarship?
- Write about your biggest failure and the lesson you’ve learned?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Sometimes, you’ll just need to answer one prompt. Other times, you’ll need to answer more. Whatever the case is, you need to choose the prompts wisely. Make sure to:
- Choose a topic you care about
- Choose a prompt you have something to say about
- Think about all the potential answers before choosing
It would be best to read all the prompts first. Then, let it sink for a day or two. This will help you avoid developing writer’s block. Use that time to think about the potential answers. Choose the prompts that will allow you to stand out.
Writing your college scholarship essay in one sitting is wrong. We believe it takes time and layers to make it perfect. That’s why you need to start the writing phase with outlining. Outlining will help you shape the essay skeleton. You’ll define the main ideas you want to cover. It’ll also make sure your essay shows your qualities. The outlining phase covers:
- Writing down your main ideas for the essay
- Structuring them in a logical order
- Deciding on the essay purpose
- Adding the main and supporting arguments
The result of the outlining phase is creating a path. You’ll follow it to write the essay. You can also let this rest for a day. Come back to it tomorrow. See if you want to change anything or leave it be.
5. Expand the outline
Now you have your outline all set. You should work on expanding it. This is where essay writing truly begins. What does expanding your outline mean? It’s working on every individual point you’ve prepared. It’s turning it into a part of your essay. To do so, you’ll need to:
- Start writing paragraphs for each idea in the outline
- Follow your own structure idea to get a coherent whole
- Make connections between each paragraph and section
Take your time and write it patiently. Write and rewrite for as long as you need. Remember that it’s not final until you decide so.
6. Use strong openings
This is one of the most important scholarship essay tips. A strong opening is a tool you must use. It’ll allow you to make your essay powerful and readable. A strong opening is supposed to:
- Hook the reader
- Grab their attention
- Make them focus on the rest of the story
So, don’t use long introductions that say nothing. Instead, open with a grand statement or a brilliant thought. Here’s what we have in mind:
- Growing up, I never liked injustice, even if it was a silly thing on the playground
- The most important thing my father taught me is to never look down on people
- I’m going to conquer the world
A powerful statement at the beginning of your essay is key. You need to tell a story that the readers enjoy reading. Each new paragraph should start with another strong statement. Make sure the reader is amused and intrigued. Don’t blend with the rest.
7. Make it personal
When writing your essay, you need to remember one thing. Those reading your essay will read dozens of other essays. And, they’ll probably read it in one day. If you don’t make it memorable, you’re out of the picture. A memorable essay is the one that:
- Shows your personality
- Tells something important about you
- Helps the reader understand you
- Shares your SOP
The essay helps the scholarship providers get to know you. They’ll form an opinion about you based on it. They’ll imagine what kind of person you are. This is crucial for the success of your essay and application.
8. Mind the structure
The structure of your essay impacts the readers. It helps you keep them engaged and active in reading. It makes your essay more logical and thus more memorable. The basic structure you need to follow is:
However, you need to go beyond this. We strongly suggest that you:
- Divide your essay into short paragraphs
- Use simple sentences
- Arrive at your point quickly
- Only include the information, ideas, and thoughts that matter
So, don’t waste your words on meaningless descriptions. Don’t repeat the thing you’ve already said. And, don’t turn your essay into a huge chunk of text. Play with your essay structure to make it more powerful.
9. Conclude resolutely
The very end of your essay is essential. It’s what needs to seal the deal. It’s your last chance to prove your value, ambition, and potential. This is why you need to conclude resolutely. When writing your scholarship essay conclusion, be sure to:
- Wrap up the main idea of the essay in less than three sentences
- Write a strong note for the future
- Reflect on your decisiveness to win the scholarship
Your conclusion cannot be weak or unconvincing. Take the time to write it with passion. Make the final impact on those reading.
10. Edit repeatedly
Once you feel like your essay is finished, take a break. Let it rest. Don’t read it for a couple of days. This will allow your ideas to settle down. Once it rests for a couple of days, read it again. However, prepare to make some edits.
As you’re reading it again, you’ll notice:
- Structural issues
- Poor vocabulary choice
- Room for improvement
Take notes as you read. Go back to them once you finish. Edit the parts that need improvement. Add and remove parts to make the essay better. Repeat this process several times. You need to be completely happy with your scholarship essay.
Proofreading your college scholarship essay is a must. But, this proofreading needs to be top-notch. Why? Imagine if your scholarship providers see a typo on your essay. You’re doomed. You will lose your credibility. They’ll consider you sloppy or uninterested. This is why you should use multiple proofreading methods:
- Online proofreading tools such as spell and grammar checkers
- Asking a friend or colleague to do it
- Proofreading for one type of mistake at a time
- Reading out loud
- Printing it out and using a pen or a ruler to proofread each line
Combine two or more techniques for maximum proofreading success. Your college scholarship essay has to be 100% mistakes-free. Only then can you send your college application.
12. Start on time
There are several stages to writing your college scholarship essay. Each stage takes time and energy. You’ll need time for:
That means you can’t start three days before the deadline. The result will be average at best. Take at least a couple of weeks to write it. Starting on time is one of the key scholarship essay tips. Don’t ignore this final piece of advice. Plan the writing process. Make time for each stage to be carried out responsibly.
Writing a college scholarship essay is challenging. You need to nail the topic. You have to show perfect writing skills. Finally, you need to make your personality shine through. The tips above will guide you through this writing process. Use them to write a winning essay. Make sure you get the scholarship you deserve. Take the time to do it like a professional.