Tips for Writing an Effective Scholarship Essay

March 18th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

While there are many sources of financial aid, scholarships are by far one of the best ways a student can offset some of the costs associated with pursuing a degree. That being said, most scholarships require students to write an essay in response to a provided prompt.

The scholarship essay is typically the biggest hurdle students face when applying for scholarships, so we will explain why the scholarship essay is actually the best opportunity for students to secure the scholarship, then we will provide some important tips to keep in mind when doing an effective scholarship essay all of your own.

The Essay is a Great Opportunity for Applicants

The essay is one of the most important components in a scholarship application because it helps the scholarship provider to narrow down their choices from a range of applicants that meet the application criteria (and, typically, most people applying will have similar academic standing, extra-curricular activities, interests and goals). That being said, the essay is also the best opportunity for students to differentiate themselves from the other applicants, and really catch the attention of the scholarship provider.

Essay Writing Tips

1. Tailor each response to the particular scholarship

It’s important that you not only directly respond to the prompt given by the award directions, but remember who the organization is: Who are they specifically looking to give the scholarship to? What qualities are they looking for in a recipient? Try to highlight those qualities in yourself while staying on topic.

Make the essay passionate enough to stand out, personal enough to distinguish yourself as the ideal recipient, and directly tailored to the provider—write (eloquently) for your audience!!

2. Have someone else edit/proofread

The last thing anyone wants to do after writing a personalized essay that can make or break their application is read it over again (and over again, and over again). Plus, it is just general good proofreading practice to get a second set of eyes to edit a document. So, edit the paper yourself, then have someone else proofread and suggest edits in addition. Better safe than sorry!

3. Remember all the standard essay qualities

In addition to distinguishing yourself as the ideal recipient of whichever scholarship it is you’re applying for, the scholarship essay also has to demonstrate your writing abilities. As important as the content, the ability to write effectively is a major criterion for providers. Remember to plan your response ahead of time, use proper grammar, and demonstrate your mastery of language (but not at the expense of being clear or concise!).

Check out our most recent Google Hangout where we gave you tips on writing your scholarship essay:

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