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With college costs rising, many students turn to financial aid options for school, including scholarships. Colleges and universities award financial aid based on achievements or other criteria, such as academic merit or demonstrated need. Unlike student loans, students do not pay scholarships back after graduation, making them an effective way to lower college costs overall.

To be considered for a scholarship, students need to fill out an application that a scholarship committee then reviews. This application typically requires students to write an essay based on a given prompt. Writing a strong scholarship essay is essential to stand out from the competition, especially for scholarships with a high number of applicants. Keep the following scholarship essay tips in mind while working on your application.

Do Your Homework

When you need to write a scholarship essay, take time to prepare before doing any actual writing. You only have one chance to submit an essay for each scholarship you apply to, so spending time researching and preparing beforehand is vital to ensuring you will be ready to write a high-quality essay that makes a great impression on the scholarship committee.

1.    Start Sooner than You Think You Need To

You will most likely need to submit your scholarship application by a specific deadline. Avoid waiting until a few days before this deadline to prepare and write your essay, so you do not rush through it. Get started on your scholarship essay homework well before the deadline to give yourself enough time to focus on quality during the planning and writing process. This prevents you from feeling pressured to submit an essay written at the last minute.

2.    Research the Scholarship Provider

When you write a scholarship essay, you should try to tailor it to your audience. In this case, the audience is the scholarship committee reviewing your application. You probably will not know who these individuals are, but you can at least find out more about the scholarship provider. Research the organization or company offering the scholarship to learn about their values and what qualities they might be looking for in your essay. This information can help you write a powerful piece that your audience will appreciate.

3.    Review Other Scholarship Essay Examples

How can you tell what kinds of essays a scholarship committee is looking for? Some scholarship providers post sections of winning essays from prior years. Reading through these can give you an idea of the quality or tone they expect from applicants. You can also review examples of scholarship essays online to see how you might approach different essay prompts. For example, writing an essay about your most significant influence or inspiration might differ significantly from one about a time you failed and what you learned from that experience.

4.    Brainstorm Ideas to Organize Your Thoughts

Writing an essay off the top of your head is not an effective way to ensure quality. Before you begin the writing process, take time to come up with a list of ideas for your essay. Remember to ensure you answer the essay prompt or question, though in some cases, you might have a degree of flexibility in what you write about. Brainstorm ideas that might make good essay topics, and keep this list handy when you review the scholarship application. Once you know the essay prompt, you can choose a topic to write about.

Writing Your Scholarship Essay

After you finish preparing to write your scholarship essay, you can get started on the actual writing process. Writing a scholarship essay involves following all the rules you have learned about writing an essay in general, but there are also a few crucial differences to keep in mind. As you prepare to write your scholarship essay, consider these tips.

5.    Read and Reread the Instructions

Following the instructions on the application is vital to writing a high-quality essay. Scholarship essays typically have a maximum word count you should avoid exceeding. Depending on how much you write, you might need to go back and edit your essay to stay within the upper word count allowed. Other instructions to note include the essay prompt and writing format. Read these instructions a few times to ensure you can follow them while writing your essay. This prevents you from having to rewrite your essay or make a lot of changes to it before submitting it.

6.    Create an Outline with Proper Structure

Before you begin writing, outline your essay with an introduction and conclusion. For the body of your essay, jot down headings, subheadings, and a brief note about what you will be writing about for each paragraph or section. An outline can help you keep your thoughts organized as you write your essay, preventing you from straying off topic or disrupting your flow to figure out what you want to focus on in the next section or paragraph.

7.    Incorporate Stories from Your Life

When reviewing your essay, scholarship committees want to learn more about who you are as an individual. Writing about your personal experiences in your essay is a great way to show the committee who you are and what qualities you have. Depending on the essay prompt, you might include a story about how you have contributed to your local community, why you believe you deserve the scholarship, or what makes you a unique individual. Including stories from your life allows the committee to get to know you better.

8.    Show Your Personality and Emotions

In addition to incorporating your own experiences, your essay gives you a chance to let your personality shine through your writing. No matter which essay prompt you are responding to, include writing that shows your personality and emotions. For example, you might inject humor into your essay about a time you failed but managed to maintain a positive attitude. Including your personality and emotions in your writing helps your essay come across as more authentic.

9.    Maintain Professionalism

Although showing emotions and personality is suitable for a scholarship essay, moderation is key. Avoid going overboard with these qualities in your essay, such as including too much humor or adding exclamation points at the end of several sentences. Being professional is also important, since it shows that you have maturity. Find a good balance between personality and professionalism when writing your essay. This is also where getting feedback from others is helpful, since they can let you know what kind of impression your essay makes.

10. Be Confident but Not Arrogant

Scholarship committees tend to look for confidence when reviewing essays. Showing confidence through your writing can help you stand out from the competition. However, be careful not to come across as arrogant. For example, if you write about your experience managing a community project, avoid making it sound like you did all the work. Talk about how you were part of a team or encouraged others to get involved.

11. Ask Others for Feedback and Proofreading Help

Overlooking grammatical errors in your essay can be easy to do when you are focused on writing it. Having another pair of eyes read through your essay is an excellent way to get feedback on the quality and catch errors. Ask your English teacher, a friend or family member to review your scholarship essay before submitting it. You might choose to adjust the tone or make other adjustments based on the feedback you receive. Having someone else proofread your essay also helps ensure it is free of errors before you submit it.

12. Reuse and Repurpose Your Essays for Multiple Scholarship Applications

Having to write a scholarship essay from scratch every time you apply is a time-consuming process. Instead, consider reusing or repurposing your essays if you plan to apply for multiple scholarships. For example, you might take an essay you have written and do a bit of revising to make it more relevant for another scholarship application, depending on the prompt. This saves you from having to write a new essay each time you submit a scholarship application. Just make sure you always submit a high-quality essay for every application.

Post University offers several scholarships, including on-campus merit scholarships, online scholarships, and on-campus returning student scholarships. We also provide opportunities for students to apply for external scholarships that private organizations fund. Please contact Post University to learn more about our available scholarships.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.