5 tips to power you through the scholarship writing process
Writing a college essay is arguably the most important part of applying for a scholarship. It’s what sets applicants a part and where students can shine through their application. Specifically, a scholarship essay lets you portray who you are through a story about your talents, skills, passions. You get to tell the scholarship sponsor the reason why you are the best candidate to be awarded for the scholarship, far beyond your resume will.
Although, many deserving students get scared at this point and become discouraged to write and submit scholarship essays.
Writing scholarship essays take time and extra work.
In our how to write your best scholarship essay, we want to provide you several tips, tricks and best methods to give you the confidence and tools to submit your scholarship essay and win that scholarship!
1. Don’t Procrastinate
Easier said than done, we know.
Even if you are a student that gets your best work done in a time crunch, we have some good tips for you:
Plan, calendar and set reminders for scholarship due dates
It’s easy to procrastinate when you still have months to turn in a scholarship application, or even before the scholarship application opens! If you start thinking to yourself ‘Oh, I’ll finish this later’, the chances of you forgetting about it are about 87%. Set a calendar reminder for yourself for 1-2 weeks before it’s due and include a link to the application to help you save time searching for the scholarship!
Submit your application early
Submitting your application early usually can only increase your chances of winning the scholarship. Why? Most students wait until 48 hours before the application is due, leaving the scholarship sponsors with less time to review every application as thoroughly. Not only may the scholarship sponsor have more time to review and give your application and scholarship essay more attention, but you also stand out as more responsible than other students.
Ask others to proofread your scholarship essay!
Not procrastinating in writing your scholarship essay gives you more time to revise and ask others for help. The best way to feel more confident about submitting your scholarship essay is to have your college counselor, a family member or teacher look over your essay. Make sure to give them enough time to look over it and offer suggestions.
“My biggest regret and anxiety of college applications and college scholarships was not starting early enough. Looking back, it’s my number one regret and piece of advice I always share with rising seniors. START EARLY!” - Miramonte High School Senior, Class of 18’
2. Make an Outline
Making an outline may sound like extra work, but we promise you’ll thank us later (we accept thank you letters via email).
Bullet points are your new best friend
The first thing you put on paper should be 1 sentence stating what you want the reader to know when they finish reading your scholarship essay. The second thing should be simple bullet points on how you going to do that. From here, write away.
Bullet points to refer back to not only helps you start writing, but it keeps you to the point throughout your scholarship essay. Once you’ve finished writing, check back to your bullet points and make sure you met your main goal of what you wanted the reader to know. Better yet, have someone else read it and ask them what they now know about you and what message they received.
Pick apart the prompt
Many times scholarship essays ask about something specific that they want to know about you. Find the keyword in the essay prompt and use them in your outline. Address which bullet point talks about specific parts of the prompt. Having an easy outline and bullet points ensures that you are fully answering the prompt and what the scholarship sponsor wants to know about you, without having to redo your essay multiple times.
Stick to the important stuff
Giving a structure to what you want to write in your scholarship essay helps you avoid vagueness, fluff and filler sentences. Making an outline helps you stick to the point and reduce redundancy throughout your essay.
A good essay outline also helps you keep to the required word count. When editing your college essay or scholarship essay, refer back to your outline to evaluate what is important to keep or what areas can be expanded on to clarify your essay goal.
3. Research Your Audience
What’s important to the scholarship providers
People don’t just walk up to students and hand them money; they donate to funds and organizations with mission statements. People donate money to scholarship funds because they believe in something and want to invest in the future of something. It’s your job to find out exactly what that is and prove to them with your college essay that you are a good investment, because you are.
Find out what the mission is of the company or organization that is giving the scholarship. Find out exactly why they give the scholarship and what is important to the scholarship provider.
Who’s on the scholarship award & review committee?
You might be able to get a step ahead if you can get the answer to this question. People relate to others like them. If you can relate to the scholarship review committee through both something unique and you have in common, then use it! Connecting with your reader and having them relate to you is one of the best ways to spark empathy and giving.
While it’s easy to quickly put your scholarship application together (especially on Scholars.Shop), it takes more time to research and find out more about the specific scholarship fund and review committee. The good things is, you can use your extra time spent researching the scholarship to your advantage.
For example, calling the scholarship foundation and asking questions about their mission and what’s important to them, what they look for in applications and past winners, can’t hurt you. We promise. Most students would shy away from calling or even emailing. Showing that you care about the organization and their mission can only set you apart and above other scholarship applicants.
4. Make it Passionate but Professional
People love to listen and be around others that are passionate. You can hear passion in someone’s voice, you can see it in someone’s actions. Passion is hard to fake. If you are writing your scholarship essay about something you are passionate about, make sure this comes through in your essay. Tell the reader why you are passionate about this topic and then tell the reader examples of how you show that in your everyday life. If you are writing your college or scholarship essay about something you did one time, this doesn’t show passion. If you are writing your essay about something you did one time and then since then you have done x, y, and z because of that one time, that’s strong. I believe you’re passionate.
Many scholarship essays come in the form of stories about yourself. That’s great. Just make sure it is still professional. Scholarship sponsors and scholarship review committees are usually much older than you and believe in the power of being professional. While scholarship funds want to hear your story, we recommend that it doesn’t come off to informal (we’ll provide tips on this in our next section).
Before you start writing: Make sure your topic and all your points are appropriate. To better judge this, think of reading what will soon be your scholarship essay out loud to your strictest teacher. If you’re picturing a not so good reaction, you might want to evaluate changing your scholarship essay topic or points. Also, make sure that you are shown in a positive way, at least by the end of your essay. Remember, a scholarship essay isn’t a diary entry. There is someone that will be reading your essay.
Finding the balance
Sometimes it can be hard to find the balance between passionate and professional. No matter what, the most important part of your scholarship essay is your voice. No matter how many times your essay is reviewed by other people and changes are made, make sure your voice is still strongly coming through. Scholarship providers ask you to write an essay because they want to know about you. Write your scholarship essay with passion and remember your audience for the best scholarship results.
Pro Tip: Do not plagiarize. Many scholarship funds use tools to ensure that they only award students with the highest academic integrity. Plagiarism is a sure way to get yourself disqualified fast, and possibly with other worse outcomes.
5. Avoid Grammatical and Spelling Mistakes
Grammatical, punctuation and spelling mistakes can quickly turn an excellent scholarship essay into a really bad one. Before asking for help from anyone, make sure you catch all of the very obvious mistakes. Run spell check on your essay and read it outloud once. Reading it outloud to yourself or someone else is one of the best things you can do to catch mistakes.
Ask for help
You don’t have to do this alone, and actually, you really shouldn’t. You can and should ask for help at all steps throughout the college and scholarship essay writing process. Some great people to ask for help if you don’t want to ask parents is your college counselor at your high school, a teacher you trust, school counselor or just an educated adult. Beyond being able to grammatically help proofread your essay, they may be able to give you insight or provide a winning suggestion to add to your scholarship essay.
While it’s really nice to sound smart, it sounds even better if your readers can actually understand what you are saying. In this case, Thesaurus.com isn’t always going to be your best friend. While it’s good to use it, especially if you use one specific word too much or twice in the same sentence, don’t over complicate it. Jargon often times just confuses the scholarship review committee and doesn’t work in your favor.
While our team over here at Scholars.Shop personally loves the creativity of the scholarship essay process, we know not everyone does. To write your best scholarship essay that leads to scholarship awards, we recommend using our 5 tips on writing your scholarship essay.
One last pro tip (since you made it this far):
Keep all your essays in one place. Many times you can re-use college or other scholarship essays or adjust parts of them to fit similar questions. Reusing your scholarship essays will save you hours...and more hours that you could be using to do many more fun things.
To easily apply to scholarships and make the scholarship application essay easier, make a free student account and start easily applying for scholarships today on Scholars.Shop.