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Eight Tips for Writing a Better Scholarship Essay

02 Aug 2018

Writing an essay of a good quality takes a lot of time and efforts. The main goal of the scholarship essay is to impress readers and, probably, to apply for writing awards. However, you will need to submit several essays to apply for different awards. Therefore, some essays need to be revised or completely changed to fit the requirements of the organizations that issue the awards.

Read Your Essay Several Times

As a rule, schools and other educational institutions give a topic and the essay guidelines. You need to read the question you’re required to answer and then make a plan. Among the most popular essay topics are the following: “Which book made the greatest impression on you?” Try to read between the lines – it is not likely that schools are interested in your preferences in literature. Most probably, they will evaluate your personality and your ability to formulate thoughts, write in a concise manner and be grammatically correct as they are looking for potential students. Hence, they want to know if you’re a promising student or not and whether you deserve to study in that school. Your scholarship essay reflects your personality, interests, and style of life. Therefore, try to express yourself in a proper manner if you want to study in a good college or university.

Make a Plan

You will need to make a good plan for your essay with the list of keywords and important points that would be covered in your paper. In your essay, you may include the information related to your background and experiences that make you the best candidate for a scholarship award. You probably should make a research about the organization you’re going to apply to and get familiar with its mission statement. Your scholarship essay should be in line with the mission statement of the organization you’re applying to because each organization tends to accept a person that shares their goals. You can describe the classes you took in the past and explain how they inspired your academic goals if you’re applying for an academic scholarship. You may also wish to include the following information in your scholarship essay:

  • Academic awards you’ve obtained in the past;
  • College or AP courses you took;
  • Outside courses or internships;
  • Explain why the organizational mission and your experience match;
  • What you plan to emphasize in your studies in college and how it will fit your career goals;
  • Any extracurricular activity you had in the past;
  • Special trainings and knowledge you acquired;
  • Examples of how you faced challenges in the past;
  • Description of your financial circumstances that make your application for scholarship funding a necessity.

You will need to integrate these points into your scholarship essay to persuade the committee that your answers are prompt.

Make an Outline

Few students like to make an outline but this is a very useful practice. You have already made a sketch of the keywords and important points. You can use this sketch to make an outline of your future scholarship essay. For example, you may tell how the book you read changed your behavior and attitude. Make an outline of 3-4 main headings:

  • What you chose from the recommended books;
  • How long did it take you to read it;
  • Describe how this book changed you;
  • Explain how this book inspired you to pursue a specific career.

Further, you can start to fill in the subheadings like in this example:

  • Justify the chosen edition from the recommended books:

-Teacher’s recommendations for home reading;

-Why you’ve chosen this book;

-How this book influenced your thinking.

  • Read the book several times:

-Explain why it was interesting to you;

-Explain the impact of this book on your personality and academic potential.

  • Explain how this book changed your life:

-Describe how you started to look for a job in the specific field after reading this book;

-Explain how you applied for a company to gain experience or how you were involved in volunteering activities during summer;

-Describe the challenges you faced and the conclusions you made when you were working for this company;

-Explain how you overcame these challenges, how small changes paved the road for a bigger change;

-Explain how you understood that performing a job you like can inspire you every day even if you have to work hard.

  • How this book inspired you to pursue a career in social service;

-Explain how the book served as a source of inspiration and kept you motivated in your career;

-Explain what conclusions you made after reading this book, i.e. how people having limited resources can change the lives of other people if they pursue a big goal.

Summarize Your Points

A strong statement showing your main points will help readers capture the theme of your essay. This statement will be a good beginning for your essay, but this is not an obligation. It can appear in any section of your essay to combine two parts together. For instance, you may write the following: “My academic career aligns with your organizational mission: helping grow leaders to create a more sustainable world.” This statement will help you to shape your thoughts and identify the main direction of your essay. Reflecting on your thesis statement will make your scholarship essay stronger. You need to ask yourself whether your essay supports your thesis statement to finish it promptly.

Add More Content

When you have an outline, a thesis statement and the list of the points to be highlighted in the essay, you need to add more content. It is important to capture the attention of your potential readers from the very beginning. So, try to find a catchy first sentence for your essay to motivate your readers to continue reading. For example, you can talk about your vast experience in social service. You may write the following: “Many peers of mine prefer to enjoy summer and stay in bed till the midday, but I can’t imagine my day without waking up at 5 am, jogging, and then interning at a social service helping poor people. I work 8 hours per day and my awareness of doing something good makes me happier. I think that the book I’ve read helped me to make this choice.” This will show your strong, persistent, and goal-centered personality.

Revise and Rewrite

It is necessary to rewrite and revise your essay several times to correct mistakes, rephrase and change sentence structure. Sometimes we make mistakes when we need to express an idea while we’re inspired and in rush. So, rewriting and rephrasing is a normal practice for any writer. You need to revisit your first draft from time to time to see it with fresh eyes, to spell the words correctly and edit content. One day you may need to change the overall content or rewrite a significant part of your essay as you have new ideas of how to tell this story. Here we offer more tips to complete an outstanding scholarship essay:

  • Make sure your essay reflects your own ideas and thoughts so the committee can get to know you better after reading it. The member of the committee will know if you don’t sound authentic. Try to express yourself rather than to make a good impression on the committee or to tell them what they expect to hear from you.
  • Don’t be too arrogant or too modest. You have the right to be proud of your accomplishments, but try not to sound arrogant. Excessive modesty may hamper you to express yourself in a proper manner.
  • Make sure your essay meets all requirements of the committee, such as word count, font, and citation style. They may significantly lower your grade if you use 12 Times Roman font instead of 14 Arial.
  • Describe your accomplishments in details to make the better impression on the committee.
  • Try not to use complicated notions and words to impress the committee. Expressing your thought with the help of complex sentences is an inappropriate practice since your essay is not a dissertation. Simple and clear phrases are welcome.
  • Read your essay one more time to make sure that the members of the committee will be motivated to finish it. Most probably, they will not have much time to read your essay, so try to capture and maintain their attention until the end of the story.
  • Use the words from the mission of the desired university – this will increase your chances to be accepted as the members of committee appreciate it. Don’t copy the sentences from the mission statement; you just need to use these keywords to show that your goals are similar to the goals of the organization you’re applying for.

Collect Feedback

It would be nice if you give your essay to someone for reading and giving honest feedback. Your teacher of English or admissions counselor is an ideal person to do it. If you don’t know such a person, anyone who knows English on a good level will suit for this role. Ask your editor the following questions:

  • Is the story interesting to read?
  • What parts of the essay captured your attention?
  • What parts of the essay seemed confusing to you?
  • Were there any grammar or spelling errors?
  • Did my essay sound authentic?
  • Does my essay respond to the prompt?
  • What can be done differently in this essay?
  • Were there any thoughts missing in the essay?

After editing, look at your draft again, revise and rewrite the parts that were highlighted by editors.

Refine the Draft

After the final revision, look at your essay again, proofread, check for sentence structure, grammar and spelling errors. Edit your essay if you exceeded the word count required or add missing content if you’re under the word count. Also, check if your essay meets all requirements of the admission committee.

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