Scholarships are almost mandatory for any student that hails from a middle-class or lower background if they want to pursue higher education. The unprecedented increase in inflation has raised the cost of education too much.
Without scholarships and grants, it is nigh impossible to get a college degree without taking out student loans.
You should never take out student loans unless you really have to because they literally follow you to the grave. Now, scholarships are scarce, and they can only choose a limited number of students.
So, they tend to shortlist a bunch of candidates by testing them through various means. One such method is a scholarship essay.
The candidates have to submit an essay about a prompt that is provided by the scholarship committee. Sometimes there is no prompt and the candidate can freely choose any topic they like.
Regardless of the situation, let’s see how you can write a good scholarship essay.
7 Tips for Writing a Successful Scholarship Essay
The first thing you should know is that the contents of the essay are usually quite subjective. Some committees may really like one essay while others may not. So, if you get rejected, don’t be disheartened.
All you can do is make sure that your writing is up to par, and that you do your best. With that said, let’s look at some tips that have a high likelihood of getting your essay accepted.
1. Research Thoroughly
While the tip may sound straightforward, you may be thinking “research what exactly?”. Well… the answer is “several things”.
For starters, you need to research the scholarship committee. Find out what are their values, their mission, and what kind of essays they accepted in the past. This should give you some idea of how to write your own essay so that it is looked upon favorably.
Another thing you should research is the prompt itself. You need to think about what it is that the committee wants from you regarding the particular prompt. A great trick to do that…is to paraphrase the prompt as a question.
For example, if the prompt is “Describe your participation in the extra-curricular activities of your school”, you can paraphrase it “When and how much did you participate in the extra-curricular activities of your school?”
Questions are much more direct in their intent, so you can easily figure out what you need to write and how you need to write it. So, researching things this way can help you find your footing and create an amazing essay.
2. Plan Your Approach
Once you have done your research, don’t just bust out a notepad and start scribbling away. That will get you nothing but rejection. What you need to do is to take a deep breath, and make a plan.
The plan needs to incorporate how much time you are going to allocate to writing, proofreading, and editing. You also need to add some time for resting, because proofreading right after writing is a bad idea. Your brain is usually tired at the time, so it is unable to notice all the mistakes.
That’s why after resting for a day or two, you are in a much better position to proofread and actually find mistakes.
Actually, you should also account for the research phase in the planning period. The amount of time you are going to spend researching everything you need is very important.
The aim of the plan is to make sure that your essay is ready well before the deadline. This prevents you from crunching overtime on the night before the deadline and writing a poor essay.
3. Use Your Own Experiences as Fodder
Scholarship essays are as much about you as they are about the prompt and the committee. You need to show the committee through your essay that you are good enough to receive the scholarship.
The only way of doing that is to use your own experiences and present them in an artistic way in your essay. Of course, your experiences should be relevant to the essay prompt.
Like, you cannot bring up the subject of your cooking experience in an essay about macroeconomics.
So, do use your own experiences and paint them in a light that shows that your vision and the committee’s vision are similar.
4. Proofread for Mistakes
Proofreading is a part of writing, as, without it, your write-ups are never complete. It helps you check for mistakes in your draft such as small grammar errors. It can also make you realize that something can be omitted or rewritten in a better way.
That’s why you should never be satisfied with your first draft. If you make the mistake of submitting your first draft, then you can be sure that you are not getting the scholarship.
That’s because small mistakes show that the person is careless and does not place enough importance on the task. This is why it is necessary to check for grammar and punctuation mistakes as well as fact-check the points you’ve mentioned in the essay.
Grammar mistakes are hard to find by yourself. That is a due to psychological phenomenon called “inattentive blindness”. As such, it is a good idea to seek outside help.
That can take the form of asking another person to proofread your essay. Or you can check the essay with a grammar and punctuation checker.
A grammar and punctuation checker is a tool that can detect and correct common grammar mistakes. These mistakes can include, spelling errors, missing or incorrect punctuation, wrong word usage in a sentence, and tense inconsistencies.
With the help of such tools, you can improve your scholarship essay and have a higher chance of getting accepted.
5. Revise and Paraphrase
Grammar mistakes aside, proofreading has another important function. And that is to find out if some parts of your essay can be written in a better way. Sometimes, you may have written something by following the flow of your thoughts.
But upon re-reading it, you can find that it looks confusing. Then, you can take care of it by simply rephrasing it.
Rephrasing itself is a necessary skill for any writer. But if you feel less than confident in your own skills, then you can take external help yet again.
Obviously, the most straightforward thing to do is to ask for help from a friend or family member. But you can also rephrase online with a tool. Tools can help you with paraphrasing if you have no other choice.
Most tools that rephrase online have multiple modes and features that help you to create a good rephrased sentence. So, if you are out of options, you can always opt to use these tools for improving your essay.
6. Check for Plagiarism in Your Essay
Plagiarism is so lethal that it can get your essay rejected without even giving it a chance. Unfortunately, it is not out of the question that your essay has some accidental plagiarism in it.
Accidental plagiarism occurs due to mistakes in citations, or by pure coincidence. You cannot really take any measures that prevent it completely. That is why it is necessary to check for plagiarism after writing your essay.
There is only one way of detecting plagiarism and that is to run a digital copy of your essay through a plagiarism-checking tool. There are many different types of tools available, but some have better accuracy than others. That’s why you should only use tools that show up in the top results.
7. Avoid Using Quotes and Sayings
Many people fall under the impression that using famous quotes and sayings makes their essays interesting. However, that is not the case. Since so many people think like that, using quotes has become an overused trick.
This means that it has become repetitive and uninteresting. So, you should always avoid using them. There are plenty of other ways to make your essay look interesting, one of which we even discussed in this article (using your own experiences).
Quotes also imply that you don’t have original thoughts and are unable to add much to the discussion yourself. These negative impressions can result in a rejection of your essay.
If you have to use something that somebody else has said, then you can paraphrase it and cite it. That way you can show that you are creative and intelligent enough to grasp other people’s ideas and use them in your own unique way.
And there you have it, seven tips for writing scholarship essays. Some of the tips were related to preparation and post-processing, while some of them directly tell you what to do and what not to do.
By acting on these tips, you can improve your scholarship essays and increase the chances of getting accepted.