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How to Write a Superior Scholarship Essay

Updated on July 16, 2014

Writing Essays are the Key to Winning Many Scholarships

There is billions of dollars worth of scholarship money just waiting to be collected each year. There are various requirements in applying for each. Many ask you to submit your academic summary or profile while others may ask for your parents tax and income information. The popular request however, is to write an essay on a particular topic. Many students huff and puff when asked to do so. When they do so, I ask the students how long it takes to write an essay. The common answer is 1 hour to 2 hours. If the scholarship is $1000, you’ll be paid 500 to $1000 per hour. As a student, there are not many jobs out there where you can achieve this at such an early age. To take it one step further, I’d tell the students, “I bet if someone was standing in front of you with $1000 in their hand you wouldn't waste any time in writing and submitting your essay.”

Money being paid for 1-2 hours of your time.
Money being paid for 1-2 hours of your time. | Source

I have had the pleasure of being the scholarship chair at a high school for six years. In that time I've read hundreds of scholarship essays. There are certain things to remember before pen your thoughts. The first is that if the scholarship is very popular, there may be a large pool of applicants. If this is true, the reader does not have a lot of time to ponder up on your thoughts. The essay is treated just like a resume. The average essay and or resume has 10 seconds to grab the reader’s attention. Here are some ironclad tips on preparing a winning essay.

Money you can win by writing a quality essay.
Money you can win by writing a quality essay. | Source

Follow These Tips

  1. Have someone proofread your essay. There is nothing worse than reading an essay with many grammatical errors. If you can’t take the time to perfect your article, I won’t take the time to read it. Therefore it will get thrown in with the denied stack. This is unfortunate especially when the writer has a touching life story or dream. Their life circumstance would warrant the need for financial assistance to make it to the next level of post secondary education. Unfortunately, the reader will never know.
  2. Answer the question. I have seen many beautifully written essays. These scholarly pieces of art would make any professor proud. The writers attempt to show their intelligence and vocabulary prowess. They forget however, the purpose of the task. At the end of the text I am often left scratching my head wondering “what the heck did I just read.” I want to re-iterate, I don’t have time to figure out what you are trying to say or answer. If the question asks you to talk about marbles, don’t feed me a whole page about bananas. Answer the question in the first paragraph. That way, the reader will know what your intent is and won’t have to search to find it in the following text. Remember 10 seconds is all you get.
  3. Give a personal touch to your essay. Essay readers are human. Making a personal connection with them will make it easier for them to remember you. It draws the two of you on the same side, like teammates. They would then want to do everything they can to help you. Thank the reader or organization for the opportunity to receive the scholarship. Let them know how much it will mean to you. Are you the first person in your family to make it to college? Will this money help you to further your dream to research a cure for a disease that took away one of your parents? The reader may have a similar experience.
  4. Spend your time writing essays that you “do” qualify for. Don’t bother writing about an extreme hardship if you have lived on easy street your whole life. There are some students who have lived devastating lives. It is a wonder that they have made it this far. Focus your time on other topics. You may have a better chance on writing about your experiences in performing community service. How are you going to use your chosen career to help mankind?
  5. Writes with passion! If you are bored in writing the material, imagine how the reader will feel. Be as descriptive as possible. Help the reader to see and feel what you have experienced. I must remind you again that readers are human.


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