Nothing beats getting a scholarship when you are looking for financial assistance to fund your college education. With a scholarship, you don’t have to worry about repayments or interest rates, or defaulting. Scholarship awards are free and can make it so much easier to pay for college.
Of course you will have to put in some work towards finding and applying for this free money. With so many other students also looking for free money to fund their college tuition, the process can be highly competitive.
The key lies in knowing what constitutes a winning scholarship essay and how to go about creating one. When writing the essay, keep in mind that the goal is to help the committee learn about that makes you different from the other applicants. You want to convince the committee that you are worthy of their scholarship and will put it to good use.
A winning scholarship essay is one that has all of these components.
A Little Bit About Your Background
The organizations awarding the scholarship will want to know a little about your background. They want to know something about the recipient of their award. Now this isn’t an autobiography, so make sure you are only giving them information that is relevant to the scholarship and the essay prompt.
If you are applying for a scholarship that is being awarded for accomplishments in music, your essay should stay focused on your musical background. Do not talk about other fields as it takes the focus off what matters most.
Your Unique Skills
Scholarship organizations are typically looking for that unique quality that sets you apart from the rest. Every one of us has skills and talents that make us unique and define our individuality. This is the time to showcase your talents and skills.
Are you a whizz at computer programming? Do you have fantastic public-speaking or fund-raising skills? Are you multi-lingual? Do you have a great flair for drama and theater?
Don’t hesitate to brag about your skills. The judges will want to know more about how you developed your skills and how you intend to use your skills to meet your goals so go ahead and tell them.
Tell them that you are fascinated with foreign affairs and that’s where your multilingual skills can help you achieve that goal. Helping the committee understand the connection between your skills and your goals is important.
Your Major Accomplishments
If you have a long list of accomplishments, it’s okay to list them all on your scholarship application. When writing your essay however, you do not want to talk about all of your accomplishments. For one thing, it will dilute the impact of your essay and secondly, the scholarship committee is not interested in accomplishments that are not relevant to their criteria.
The key to writing a winning scholarship essay is to focus on the main theme and only expand on those accomplishments that are relevant to that theme.
If the scholarship award is being given to students interested in international affairs, write about your volunteering experiences in third world countries and how these experiences inspired you and helped you solidify your goals.
Your Strongest Personality Trait
Each one of us has an strong personality trait. What’s yours? Are you super organized, confident, or dependable? What makes you, you?
Give the reader an insight into your strongest personality trait and talk a bit about how it has helped you get to where you are. When talking about your personality trait, don’t be vague. Be as specific as you can. Discuss one—only one—specific incident where this personality trait helped you overcome a challenging situation and accomplish your goal.
Your Future Plans
Scholarship committees are trying to determine who they should invest in. Talking about your future plans will give them a better idea of what their money is going towards. All businesses want a return on their investment and even if they are not looking for a monetary repayment, they would like to know that their money is going towards building a productive member of society.
Talking about your future plans will help the committee determine why you should be the one chosen over all other applications.
Start by Reading the Instructions Carefully
Every scholarship has their own unique requirements that may be a little different from the others so it is most important to read all instructions carefully. Circle key words or key ideas you think the evaluator will be looking for and make a note of it on your scholarship worksheet. Make a note of the subject matter if it is specified. Some essay prompts ask a specific question or two. Make sure you are addressing any and all questions as they should be the focus of your essay.
Also make a note of the length or font size requirement. It would be a shame if your essay was thrown out because of a simple formatting issue.
When you sit down to write your essay, make sure to start by making a good impression and closely reading the directions. Once you have the reader hooked, you can get into your needs and future plans.
If you are applying for more than one scholarship, don’t simply reuse the same essay for all of them. Take some time to customize your main essay and tweak it to fit the requirements of each scholarship that you are applying to. Think of time spent writing your scholarship essay as investing time today for your future self.
Applying for scholarships and writing those essays may be challenging and time consuming, but you will be happy you took the time and trouble when the scholarship money starts rolling in and takes the financial stress off you and your parents.
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