5 Tips For Writing Essays For Scholarship Entries

By Alexandra Brown on February 26, 2016

It is extremely expensive to be a college student. This is dreadfully common knowledge.

According to the College Board, the cost of tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year at a private college was $32,405, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges and $23,893 for out-of-state students attending public universities.

These numbers are huge, and they don’t even take into account spending money and other expenses specific to each student. In addition to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), great deals of students choose to apply for grants, and scholarships, to fund their education.

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There are a variety of different scholarships that exist; there’s basically a scholarship for anything specific to any student. Whether you’re a single mom trying to get your degree, a dancer or someone passionate about their heritage, chances are there’s a scholarship somewhere out there you’re eligible for, that can help fund your college education.

No matter which type of scholarship you’re pursuing, or if you’ve chosen to pursue more than one, most scholarship programs require an essay in addition to other requirements like test scores or GPA.

The essay portion of these applications is arguably the most important; it’s where admissions officers get a feel for your personality, something they can’t get simply from the numbers you provide.

Here are five tips to keep in mind for the most important part of your scholarship entry: the essay.

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1. Be specific

Whatever the type of scholarship, you’re going to want to be specific throughout. This means providing concrete examples from your life that apply to why you’re pursuing this specific scholarship. This also means remaining specific with every question in the prompt.

If the scholarship is for study abroad, be sure to include points like why exactly you want to study abroad, what the money used from the scholarship will potentially be put toward, your goals for your time abroad and what you want to get out of the program.

Being specific and not general is the most essential part of your essay; it sets you apart individually and lets the admissions advisor see who you really are as much as possible without actually meeting you face to face.

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2. Don’t procrastinate

An admissions essay for a scholarship entry is not something you’re going to want to procrastinate, no matter how used to procrastination you are with other things like studying, and getting assignments in at the last minute.

This essay is something you’re going to want to work on over a good amount of time, and something you should come back to at different points. Writing it all out in one sitting at the last minute is harmful to your chances of receiving the scholarship. The ultimate product will be rushed, and you will not have had time to go back and edit.

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3. Get it in early

This goes along with not procrastinating. Make it an absolute goal to get your entry in by a certain date. Set reminders on your phone or in your calendar. Work on it for an hour or so a day, as many days as you think it will take for the desired outcome. Then, get it in early. You won’t be worrying about it during the days leading up to the deadline, and you’ll feel a lot more prepared.

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4. Peer edit

Another essential thing to do in your writing process is have your essay peer edited. Go through it once yourself, and then pass it on. Your essay needs to be seen by at least one other set of eyes before you submit it. Someone else might catch something you missed, or not understand something you thought would be obvious to the reader.

If it’s possible, have one of your friends who has also applied to a scholarship look yours over. Family members or other friends who are English or journalism majors might also be helpful.

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5. Be open

This is not the time to be shy and reserved. Your scholarship essay offers as much information about you to the admissions officer as it can without them meeting you personally. Tell them about yourself, why you need this scholarship, and what your goals are as a student. Let the essay be a representation of you in words.

Answer all questions of the prompt as honestly and as openly as possible. This is not a Facebook post or a Tweet; neither your friends nor your acquaintances will be seeing your responses. You don’t have to feel self-conscious, and you shouldn’t hold back. Because your essay is the most important part of your application, put as much into it as you can, and put your best writing forward.

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