How to Write the Perfect Scholarship Essay

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iStock 000019972864XSmall How to Write the Perfect Scholarship Essay The Ultimate Scholarship Essay Guide

Paying for college is easy to do when you have enough scholarship money to cover your costs. Then you don’t have to worry about student loans and out-of-pocket expenses. You can go to school free of charge.

Since most scholarships these days require essays as part of the application process, it is important to learn how to write the perfect scholarship essay. Here are some tips to improve your writing in the future.

Read the Essay Prompt Carefully

One of the easiest ways to mess up on a college essay is to misinterpret the essay prompt. If you write about something completely off topic, the scholarship committee will assume that you did not pay attention to the prompt. Where will your application end up after that? In the trash.

Read over the essay prompt a few different times before you start writing. Then read over it again while you are writing to make sure you stay on track. Think about what the scholarship committee wants to see based on the prompt they gave you, and then go to work crafting a great essay.

Determine the Tone

The tone of your writing should reflect the nature of the essay prompt and the scholarship committee you are aiming to impress. If you are applying for a scholarship with a cancer research organization, you will probably want to make your writing formal and professional. If you’re applying for a scholarship with a local comedy club, you will obviously want to write something fun and lighthearted. Make sure that your tone fits the situation at all times, or your writing may not be interpreted correctly.

Establish a Writing Structure

The structure of your essay will need to depend on the type of prompt you have. For instance, you might be asked about a situation from your past and how it will affect your future. You might be asked to explain how getting a scholarship would help you in college. You may also be asked to come up with a new idea that could make a process or the world in general better than it is right now.

Most scholarship essays can fit into this format:

  1. Introduction: A quick paragraph that introduces the reader to the essay and presents a thesis you will back up in other paragraphs.
  2. The Story or Problem: One or more paragraphs that convey your personal story or identify a problem you are trying to solve in the essay.
  3. The Explanation or Solution: One or more paragraphs that explain why your story makes you worthy of the scholarship or how the previously identified problem can be solved.
  4. Conclusion: A quick summary of what you have already said, ending with a statement that makes the readers think.

Your essay needs to flow like you’re just talking to the person reading it. Structure it like a steady incline that keeps the reader wanting more, and your essay is sure to be a success.

Make It Personal

Your scholarship essay is your chance to prove to the reviewers that you are worthy of their award. If you present them with a cookie-cutter essay that anyone could turn in, they’re not going to know who you are or why your story matters. Make your essay about something personal – something that you are truly passionate about. Put your heart into everything you write, even if you think it sounds a little cheesy. You want the scholarship committee to feel like they can connect with you on a personal level, and your writing should reflect that.

Tell the Truth

When it comes to writing a powerful scholarship essay, you might feel the need to embellish your experiences a bit to make the essay more compelling. Even the smallest of lies can get you into trouble if you are not careful. Many scholarships require an in-person interview as part of the application process, which means you may have to defend what you said in the essay to a committee of people. If you lied in the essay, it will become apparent in person.

Even if you don’t have to go through an interview, the scholarship committee may still see through your lies on paper. Rather than trying to pull the wool over their eyes, you should try to find something compelling in the truth. This will make an even bigger impact.

Add a Surprising Twist

If it’s possible, try throwing a twist in your essay that catches the reader off guard. This is what will make your essay truly memorable. For example, when I was applying for scholarships a few years ago, I had to write an essay about someone who made a big impact on my life and success in school. I chose a classic: my mom. She raised me to believe I could be anything I wanted to be, and that pushed me to succeed. Long story short, I didn’t win the scholarship.

The person who actually won that scholarship was a friend of mine who wrote about her father. The twist was that her father left her family when she was very young, so she never knew who he was. She took a stance that because of his neglect, she was forced to grow up and realize that she already has all the strength she needs to succeed. That was enough to put her essay at the top of the list.

Try to put a spin on your essay that stays on topic but still catches the scholarship committee’s attention. You’ll be on your way to winning awards in no time.

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