Arguably the most important part of applying for a scholarship is the essay. Your essay is your opportunity to really give the scholarship organization an idea of who you are, and tell them exactly why you are the person who most deserves their scholarship. Here are 5 tips to avoid on your scholarship essay:
1. Procrastination – Many students believe that they “work best under pressure,” but no one is at his or her best when rushed and stressed. Make sure you start your application early, giving yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas. It’s generally a good idea to use school breaks to write your essays, so you’re not also juggling homework, sports, and extracurriculars.
2. Not knowing your audience – Take some time to get to know the organization that sponsoring each of the scholarships to which you are applying. Research their vision, history, and programs, and think about how you can make your essay appeal to their missions. Also, remember that there are actual people reading your essay, with the ability to recognize sincerity. Appeal to their sensibilities and try to give them a real idea of who you are.
3. Unnatural writing – It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying too hard. Make sure you write in your own voice, and try to avoid “thesaurus words.” Admissions committees can tell when you are writing in your own voice—it will feel more natural and comfortable. Not to mention it will be easier to write!
4. Uncreative topics – Remember that the admissions committee will read hundreds of essays every year, often about many of the same topics. Try to make your essay stand out by picking a topic that is unique and interesting. One helpful tip is to search for “popular scholarship essay topics”…and then avoid those like the plague!
5. Humility – Generally speaking, we are raised to be modest, and it can feel unnatural and uncomfortable to talk about ourselves. However, a scholarship application requires you to talk about yourself and your achievements frankly and honestly. Admissions committees want to hear about what you’ve achieved, so don’t downplay what you’ve done for fear of boasting.