Handling Scholarship Essays

Soon, you’ll be well on your way to crafting the perfect scholarship application essay. You just need some advice and inspiration!

Kathryn Knight Randolph

March 13, 2015

Handling Scholarship Essays

The scholarship essay is one of the most important components to your application – no pressure.

It enables the scholarship committee to get to know you a little better but also to assess your intelligence, maturity and ability to represent the scholarship or foundation’s mission.

While all of this may sound intimidating, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some advice and inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to crafting the perfect scholarship application essay.

First, and foremost, follow the directions.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a common mistake for applicants to skim the instructions and risk missing out on some vital information. Not to mention, some scholarship sponsors will throw the application out entirely if any of the directions are not followed. So answer the prompt, double-space (or single-space, if they ask!) your essay and stick to the maximum word count.

On a similar note, once your essay is completed, make sure it’s been proofread multiple times by yourself, one of your parents and a teacher or counselor. Another thing that can get your scholarship essay thrown out besides failing to follow instructions is a typo.

Second, be interesting.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to be the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest or a child prodigy on your way to finding the cure for cancer. You simply have to write an essay that showcases your passion and experiences with an air of authenticity.

Think about what excites you most in life at the moment – a complex algebraic equation that you finally figured out? Your afternoon theatre rehearsals? Last week’s big game? Or one of your parent’s abilities to overcome tough obstacles? Infusing your essay with passion and details about your experience will separate it from the others in that it seems to come alive.

Gather your thoughts with an outline or a recording of yourself talking; this will not only help you get organized but enable you to find some common threads within your experience or passion and essay talking points.

Finally, keep yourself honest.

Scholarship committees will read many essays, and one thing that will set your essay apart from others is authenticity. Many essays will attempt to be too philosophical or exaggerate the truth in order to make a point; and unfortunately for applicants, scholarship judges can see right through all of that.

You don’t have to go through a tragedy or accomplish something truly phenomenal to catch their attention. You simply need to be honest, provide concrete examples and infuse your essay with passion for the subject or prompt you’ve chosen to write about for your application. Good luck with your scholarship essay!

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