A scholarship is an excellent type of financial aid to apply for because the large majority of scholarships do not need to be paid back. Because of this, scholarships are not easy to acquire. There are many scholarships that are merit-based, meaning that your performance in the classroom or in the community plays a major part in who receives them. Some scholarships require the applicant to just fill out the application, but many scholarships require the applicant to write an essay about why they would be the best candidate to receive the scholarship. It can be an intimidating step that turns many applicants away, so even if you do not feel like writing an essay, it is always a good idea to try.
Here are some tips for writing a successful scholarship essay:
- Answer the question(s) honestly. These essays are going to be judged by a panel, so make sure that you answer honestly and truthfully. These judges will know when a student is using “fluff” or exaggerating.
- Do not stray from the topic. Even if it is a broad topic (for example, “Why are you the most qualified applicant for this scholarship”), try to follow a single path. Going off on multiple tangents is a good way to have your essay dismissed.
- Proofread multiple times. It is unprofessional to have numerous grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. You do not have to be an exceptional writer to write an exceptional essay, but you do need to have the ability to proofread, or have someone you trust that is able to proofread for you.
- Thank the organization or individual sponsoring the scholarship for their consideration. Doing so can be as simple as adding a sentence at the end saying, “Thank you for your consideration of me for this scholarship.” Being appreciative and courteous can have a positive effect on the judges.
- If you are handwriting the essay, make sure your essay (and the mailing address on the envelope) is legible. This may be common sense, but if you do not feel that your penmanship is adequate, typing your essay may be the best solution.
One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to scholarships is that sometimes you have to search the internet to find them. Your school may not offer scholarships, but there will always be outside institutions or individuals who are looking to help college students pay for their expenses. It may take some detective work, but if you put the effort in, the reward can absolutely be worth it.
By Ryan Laspina
Compliance and Default Prevent Specialist at American Public University System