Tips for Scholarship Essays

1. Read the instructions!

Make sure you read and understand the instructions, before you start writing.

2. Organize your thoughts

Think about what you are going to write, and organize your thoughts in a clear way that will feel natural to the reader. Create a brainstorm list of your ideas, and then create an outline of how you are going to structure your essay.

3. Review your outline

Make sure your outline touches on every aspect required by the essay instructions. Write your essay by elaborating on each of the points in your outline.

4. Use clear, concise, and simple language

The reader doesn’t want to use a dictionary to understand your essay, but neither will they understand slang. Don’t use language that’s too complicated, or too candid. Use words that will simply get your message across and convey your story effectively.

5. Make a connection

Tell the reader your story — it doesn’t have to be an epic or tragic award winning tale; it just needs to be yours. The reader just wants to get a sense of who you are, your personal  accomplishments and goals, what hopes and aspirations you have, and why you are deserving of this scholarship. Make a connection to the reader by telling your story, and use specific details. The simplest experience can be monumental, if you present honestly how you were affected.

6. Use spell check

Review your application and personal essays for punctuation and grammatical errors. If you struggle with the difference between “their” and “there,” you must get your essay proofread. Ask friends, family, mentors, or instructors to review your application. You can also visit  with Greater Minds, where our staff is readily available to help you fine tune your essay.

7. Create your own deadline

To help keep yourself on track, impose your own deadlines that is at least one week prior to the official deadline. Use the buffer time to make sure everything is ready on time in case of computer or printer failures. Track deadlines on your calendar and submit the application by the deadline or earlier.

8. Save everything

Many scholarship applications have similar essay topics; they want to know what your academic goals are, your need for financial assistance, and what you have done for volunteer or career preparation. Save everything you have prepared for the next scholarship application, so that you can borrow and tweak what you have compiled before. It will save you lots of time.

9. Review one last time

Don’t forget to give everything a final “once over.” Try to read the essay from another person’s perspective. Does the essay get the point across and does it make sense?

10. Sign, seal, deliver!

And then give yourself a pat on the back!


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