Because the majority of scholarships require applicants to write at least one essay, it’s very important that the essay you write speaks to the scholarship judges. Not only must you meet their specific criteria, but you must also make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
Additionally, you need to make sure the quality of your essay is up to par with their requirements, which may seem very intimidating. Many students struggle with the writing process to begin with, and having to craft a well-written essay on another topic may seem like too much work to bother with.
However, if you are serious about obtaining scholarship money for college, then you need to prepare for the fact that you will have to write an essay or two for most of the scholarships you apply for. While many scholarships have writing prompts you are expected to answer in your essay, the primary goal for judges is to gain an understanding of you who are as a person – your beliefs and ideas should show through when you’re writing the essay.
Starting the Essay
Unfortunately, the beginning of your essay is oftentimes the hardest part. How do you begin? Well, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind when you’re starting your essay.
1. Understand the Purpose
First and foremost, you must gain an understanding of why you are writing this essay. What reason could the judges have had for picking their particular question to base your essay on? Analyze the writing prompt. Figure out why you are writing what you’re writing. You can also write down the essay question and figure out how many parts the question has, and what order you need to structure your essay in according to the prompt.
You can also figure out if the essay question requires any research beforehand, or whether the question can be answered through your life experiences alone. Additionally, because the ultimate goal behind any scholarship essay question is to learn more about you, figure out how the judges will learn more about you through your essay.
Before beginning any essay, you need to figure out what your goals for the essay are. These goals will vary depending on the specific essay question and whom you are writing the essay for. For example, one of your goals may be to show the judges through your writing that you have a healthy balance between your personal life and your academic life. Another goal may be to demonstrate that you were able to succeed despite many difficult obstacles you faced throughout your life.
These goals are only examples, and your goals may be similar or different depending on the essay topic. The bottom line is to formulate a set of goals for your writing and allow your personal character to show through. During this process, you’ll also want to develop an overall theme for your essay that relates you to the subject you are writing about, whatever the topic might be.
3. Create an Outline
While some people choose to begin writing without having a plan in place, for a scholarship essay you might find it easier to begin with an outline in place. With an outline, you can be sure you are covering every point you want to hit on in your essay, and you’ll have a guideline to follow when you’re trying to structure your essay in a logical way.
Once you’ve determined your writing goals, settled on a theme for your essay and created a general outline, it’s time to write the first draft. Notice I said “first” draft – an essay is rarely, if ever, ready on the first try. When you’ve written your first draft, it’s time to go over your essay and see which areas could use a bit of improvement.
The key to crafting a well-written essay is to show the judges rather than telling them. If there are specific examples in your essay that tell something, jazz it up by showing the judges why that’s important and how that example is relevant to your life and the essay topic. Additionally, remember to keep the essay in present tense as much as possible. It might not always work, but if you can use it, do so!
Another tip to keep in mind when you’re revising your essay is to eliminate as many unnecessary words as possible. You want to be as succinct as you can, which means saying what you need to say in as few words as possible. Sometimes you’ll discover that isn’t always possible, but if you notice a part of your essay that can be revised using fewer words, it’s always a good idea.
Double-check your introduction and ensure it’s captivating enough to gain the attention of the judges. If they aren’t interested by the first sentence, they’re probably not going to read the rest of your essay. In a way, your introduction is the most important part of the paper – it gives your readers an idea of what’s to come next.
Finally, you need to finish up with a solid conclusion. Don’t merely re-summarize every point in your essay. Instead, sum up the main point and keep it short and sweet. Once you’ve revised your essay, set it aside for awhile so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. You may discover it needs more work, and you’ll probably notice a few mistakes you didn’t catch beforehand.
Once you think you have a well-crafted, acceptable essay, you can congratulate yourself. You’ve made it through the hardest part of the scholarship application! Regardless of the essay topic or whom you’re writing the essay for, it’s important to keep the above guidelines in mind in order to create the best essay you possibly can. The important things to remember is to let your unique views come through in the essay so the judges can, ultimately, learn about you through the essay prompt.
Writing the scholarship essay may seem like an impossible task, but with a bit of hard work and the above tips to guide you, you can create a well-written essay that lets the judges know what a unique individual you are.