Most scholarships require applicants to submit a personal essay describing their qualifications and educational goals. Scholarship committees rely heavily on personal essays in their determination of scholarship awards, even when many applicants demonstrate exceptional grades, test scores and achievement.
For some scholarship contests, a well written personal essay may level the playing field for students with diverse experience and vary levels of accomplishment. For students who meet the minimum state scholarship requirements, a personal essay offers the opportunity to stand out from other applicants.
Your personal essay provides you the chance to show scholarship committees what makes you unique and why you deserve a scholarship award. It provides the opportunity to sell yourself.
A well written essay will distinguish you from the competition. Write an essay that is clear, original, and persuasive. If the committee likes it, you will more than likely receive a scholarship award.
Want to learn how to write an effective scholarship essay? Review and apply the steps below.
Steps to Writing an Effective Scholarship Essay
Step 1 – Read essay instructions carefully
Before you begin writing your essay, read the essay instructions carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what is being asked of you.
Step 2 – Brainstorm ideas
Once you understand what your essay needs to address, spend a little time brainstorming ideas. Write your ideas down in an organized fashion in preparation to begin your essay.
Step 3 – Prepare an outline
Before you begin writing your essay, prepare an outline. Your outline should address each element identified in the essay instructions.
Step 4 – Develop outline points
Now begin your essay by expounding on each point identified in your outline.
Step 5 – Write clearly
Keep your writing clear, concise, yet descriptive throughout your entire essay.
Step 6 – State your accomplishments
State your accomplishments and qualifications with confidence, but dont’ brag. Arrogance or bragging will put a sour taste in the reader’s mouth and may jeopardize your chance of receiving the scholarship award.
Step 7 – Proofread your essay
There is no room for grammatical or spelling errors in a winning essay. Check and double check your essay to make sure it’s impeccable.
Step 8 – Read the essay question again
Once you’ve completed your essay, read the essay question and instructions again. Make certain your essay fully answers the essay question and addresses every point.
Step 9 – Have someone review your essay
After you’re done, you’re still not done. The last step is to have someone other than yourself, someone with strong writing and editing skills, review your essay. Once you’ve considered their suggestions, and made any necessary revisions, you’re ready to submit your essay.
Tips for Formatting Scholarship Application Essays
When writing a personal essay, ensure it is properly formatted. Scholarship committees critique essay content, format, and style. Many committee members will review the format before reading the essay. Since poorly formatted essays can raise red flags, format your essay professionally.
Scholarship Essay Formatting Tips:
- It’s essential to format the essay as outlined in the scholarship application instructions.
- Once you have finished and edited the essay, print it on quality paper. Many students submit essays printed on standard paper, so submitted essays on quality paper stand out.
- Write your essay utilizing a professional and legible font. Never use script a font. The following fonts are recommended: Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Verdana, Times New Roman.
- Use proper font size. When not listed in scholarship instructions, utilize 10-12 points for the body and 14 points for headings.
- Before printing your final copy to be submitted, make sure your printer has an adequate amount of ink.
- Do not crease paper when unnecessary, and ensure it’s not smudged.
- Avoid placing your essay in an envelope requiring folding. Instead, use a large envelope containing all relevant documents. However, many scholarship application forms request small envelopes.
- Thoroughly review the essay for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Have a parent, teacher, or friend with good writing skills review your essay.