How Do You “Tailor” or “Personalize” a Scholarship Essay?

How do you tailor or personalize a scholarship essay

Flickr user Shefa Ahsan

Many students look for scholarships to fund their college education. While researching scholarships and scholarship application tips, you may have come across the phrase “tailor your essays” or “personalize your application.” But what exactly does that mean, and how do you do tailor or personalize a scholarship essay?

What are Tailored / Personalized Essays?

“Tailor-made” means specifically made for one person or a certain reason. The same concept applies here. A tailor-made scholarship essay is specifically designed to appeal to that scholarship’s sponsor. People also use “personalized” instead, but it means the same thing. In other words, a non-generic and specifically targeted essay towards the scholarship you’re apply to.

Why You Should Personalize A Scholarship Essay

It sounds tedious to ensure that every application or essay you make fits each place you submit to. A one-size-fits all method sounds a lot easier, right? However the benefit of tailoring your essays are well worth the extra effort.

By personalizing your essays, you not only show the scholarship’s sponsor that you’re willing to go the extra mile, but that you’ve done your research and truly embody whatever they’re trying to promote. After all, the institution funding the scholarship wants to support someone who shares the same values and ideals. The essay is one of the biggest ways to show your thoughts and personality, which is why you should personalize it as well. Not to mention, even though a lot of scholarship prompts are similar, they’re different enough that a one-size-fits all essay won’t really work for all of them.

How to Tailor Your Essays

If a local company sponsors a scholarship about community service, you’ll want your essay to reflect the importance of community service and teamwork. If you just copy + paste an essay about hard work, without tweaking it to make it specific to them, they’ll be able to tell. You may not lose points, per se, but you won’t gain extra ones. The essays that stand out aren’t the generic ones, but the ones that really show the student’s passion. Your essay will be more memorable to the judges. 

Do your research into these sponsors. Visit their websites to see what values they emphasize. It might be right there in the name of the scholarship, or under their “mission statement”. Find an element that they value and make sure it appears in your essay.

Does That Mean I Have to Write a Brand New Essay for Every Single Scholarship?

No. If you already have an essay that fits a certain prompt, you can reuse it. You can tailor your pre-existing essays by adding a few new details, or rewriting a paragraph or two to fit the new sponsor’s goals. (Just make sure everything still flows well and that the essay fits their prompt). Just avoid copying and pasting the same essay for every organization or leaving details vague.

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