Do you have a child who is college-bound or a current student who needs money to pay for college? With rising college costs and ever growing student loan debt, more people are searching for scholarships than ever before. There are many scholarship sites and search engines dedicated to helping students find the money, but what should your child do when it’s time to apply? Writing a good scholarship essay is key to bringing in the dollars. So, put these writing tips to use to help your child win more scholarships.
5 Tips for Writing Scholarship Essays
1) Answer the question – completely. – One of the biggest mistakes students make when writing scholarship essays is not answering the question or prompt, fully. Pay careful attention to the exact question(s) and make sure you’ve covered each part. Don’t get carried away on a tangent and loosely answer parts of the prompt. Be intentional about developing an essay that speaks to the guiding question(s).
2) Tell the Truth – Honesty is the best policy when writing to win scholarships. Many students want to exaggerate their personal stories or borrow someone else’s, completely. This is a huge No-No. Sharing real experiences help readers get to know and understand candidates. When students lie or make up stories their essays don’t come across as authentic. If there is no personal connection, there is no scholarship award.
3) Know the Audience – Every scholarship fund has a committee that reads applications and decides who the award should go to. Their decisions will be made based on the criteria, as well as the funder’s intent or mission. Before students draft their essays, they need to be clear about why this scholarship exists and who the scholarship committee is interested in supporting. Here are a few secondary questions to ponder:
- What qualities, characteristics, or experience do I have that makes me an excellent candidate for this award?
- How have I shown leadership skills or initiative in the scholarship’s area of focus?
- What am I going to do, in the future, that will make the panel proud of me?
4) Use Stories to Illustrate Your Point – Scholarship essays are not persuasive essays that are written for English class. There is no need to “argue” a point. Students can help scholarship panels get to know them by sharing personal narratives. Simply answering a question is not enough. In fact, it’s boring! Take time to develop and share stories from your life that will help your reader get to know and trust you. Scholarship essays should exhibit personal growth, a change in thinking or actions, and positive character traits. Your goal is to show them that you are an ideal candidate by coming across as relatable, honest, and ambitious.
5) Give Them 3 Things to Appreciate About You – Remember, scholarship committees do not require essays simply because they like to read – they want to make informed decisions when awarding money. Your essay should be engaging enough that it leaves the reader wanting to meet you in person. Take them on an emotional journey by including details that are memorable. Don’t settle for just being another applicant; be the student that captures their attention and their vote. Aim for 1-3 key points that will stick with your reader long after that essay is out of sight.
Put these tips to work for more success on your scholarship quest.
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