There are many factors to consider when looking to secure funds for higher education. One is that you will more than likely be asked to write an essay in response to a scholarship application. Chances are that many other candidates will have similar grades and aspirations to you, so the essay is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be noticed. The quality of your writing and your ability to craft an excellent essay may well be the deciding factor in whether or not you receive the scholarship award, so it is worth spending some time learning the dos and don’ts of a winning essay.

Preparation is key

No matter what you hear from friends, leaving your important essay until the night before is never a good idea. You cannot write to the best of your ability without clear preparation and planning. Start thinking about it as soon as you receive the assignment, which will give you time to mull ideas over and consider options. This should include choosing your topic carefully, brainstorming ideas, putting together a draft, and choosing your sections or paragraphs. The essays that stand out are the ones that have been well thought-through and well-structured.

Read the instructions

This sounds simple, but many an essay has been completed in haste by students who didn’t quite follow the instructions and thus didn’t write the essay that was asked of them. When re-reading your work to check for errors, you should keep in mind to repeatedly ask yourself whether your essay answers the question in the title or that you have done what you were asked to do.

Research the institution or scholarship provider

Each institution will have a different mission statement and look for specific candidates to join their scholarship. Your essay should be personal and help you showcase a bit more about yourself, but at the same time adhere to the values of the institution. You do not want to give the impression that this is just one of many scholarships you are applying for. Your essay should show that you have thoroughly researched the institution and agree with its core values.

Keep it personal

This is your opportunity to show the side of you that a resume or test grades can’t, and you should use your essay to talk about who you really are. Regardless of the topic, draw on your own experiences and include times when you have overcome obstacles or achieved something against all the odds. If you are genuinely passionate about the subject, your passion and enthusiasm will come through in your writing.

Proofread from start to finish

Check, double-check, and triple-check your work and when you’re done, give it to someone else to read over. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are essential for an academic assignment. In a field of candidates all vying for the same award, a simple grammatical error could be the reason for choosing another candidate over you. It signals to the reader that you do not have the dedication to proofread your work or completed it in a rush, neither of which makes a case for a committed and diligent student.

Ultimately, use your essay to showcase your skills and explain what makes you different from the other students applying for the scholarship.

What’s Next?

Have your essay writing skills mastered but feel overwhelmed about tracking scholarship submissions? Good news—there’s an app for that! Scholar’s App is a platform that connects students to verified scholarships and tracks the entire financial aid process. Easily create a profile, search for scholarships, and even submit applications online. Click here to sign up—it’s FREE!

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