How to Write a Scholarship Essay

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to write your scholarship essay then I’m here to help! The biggest thing, as I’m sure you know, is to keep your essay geared toward your audience. If you’ve written a scholarship essay before then it’s ok to pull ideas, lines, or quotes from any previous essays but you should try not to just use the exact same essay for every scholarship you apply for. Foundations and review boards don’t want to read some generic essay about you that doesn’t really give them an idea about who you are or what their scholarship would really mean to you or your future. With that being said, always make sure that you stick to any guidelines that are provided. Word counts are there for a reason. Don’t just use them as a suggestion! As someone who has helped to publish a literary journal, I’ll be the first to tell you that if you go over that word count then your essay (and application) is likely to get tossed into the reject pile. If you don’t respect that limit then it’s likely that the review person or board will assume that you aren’t really taking the application process seriously and therefore aren’t worth their time or money.

When you write your essay, you’ll want to use a respectful but slightly personal tone. Try to find that medium between being professional and appealing to their emotions. Avoid doing any sort of rambling or going off on any tangents because this will only detract from the image you’re trying to create of yourself and the story that you’re trying to tell. By avoiding these things you will have an easier time sticking to the theme or concept that the scholarship instructions or guidelines are asking for. Don’t be afraid to talk about some of your accomplishments, it will help to provide the person reading your essay with a better perspective of who you are and the things that you’re passionate about. Under no circumstances should you exaggerate the things that you’ve done or lie about doing things you haven’t! This will only harm your chances of getting a scholarship instead of helping them.

Think about the thing or things that make you truly unique and include this in your essay. It’s important to showcase what makes you stand out from the crowd! If you aren’t sure what it is that makes you unique then don’t be afraid to ask your family or friends for help. I’m sure they’d have no trouble pointing you in the right direction with this one. You’ll want to use language that helps to paint this picture not language that is overly colorful or clichéd. Once you’ve finished writing your essay make sure you ask a couple people to look it over. I say a couple because sometimes things can get missed on the first or second review. Lastly, make sure you give yourself enough time to write the best possible essay! Trust me when I say that scholarship committees can tell which essays were rushed and which ones were well thought out. Good luck and I hope you all have success in your scholarship endeavors!

-Lara

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