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Winning Scholarship Essays

You can write an exceptional scholarship essay even if the subject matter or question itself doesn’t seem too thrilling. Brainstorm to find an innovative approach to answering the question(s) put forth by the essay. When you write your essay, be sure to remember that you are trying to persuade the reader that you are worthy of receiving the assistance and cause them to realize you are so much more than your grades or standardized scores reflect. Your essay must convey that you are a real, fascinating person that deserves the scholarship.

Additional Writing Tips

  • Answer the question, because if you don’t answer what’s been asked, or leave out important points that have been requested, you will not win the scholarship.
  • Be original and don’t be boring. Never, ever, plagiarize – period. If you quote someone, or use a particular resource, be sure to provide the proper credit. Make mundane facts or figures come alive when you write instead of just spouting facts or figures.
  • Be yourself when you write your essay. The scholarship committee wants to learn about you and your writing ability, so make it meaningful and describe your feelings more than your actions. You may be describing a situation that is similar to many applicants, but your feelings during those events are unique to you.
  • Avoid using a lot of big words just because you think you’ll impress the reader. Utilizing a good vocabulary is fine, of course, but be sure you use words in the appropriate context, style of writing, and your own voice.
  • Use imagery and vivid prose. An application essay lends itself to imagery since the entire essay requires your own experiences as supporting details. Make sure the reader can visulize your answer when you use descriptive prose in your essay.
  • The introduction is the most important part of your essay. Scholarship reviewers may spend as little as 2-3 minutes reading an essay, so the introduction needs to grab their attention immediately. Appeal to their emotions to make them relate to your subject matter and keep reading. Be sure to relate the remaining paragraphs in your essay to the introduction, and use good transitioning between paragraphs.
  • Write an excellent conclusion.  The conclusion of your essay is your last chance to persuade the reader or impress upon them your qualifications. Avoid a summary paragraph - the reader doesn't need to be reminded of what you wrote earlier in the essay. Also, do not use stock phrases like "in conclusion.” Don’t state the obvious! 
  • After your first draft of an essay is composed – give it some space and time before you reread it for editing. Reread with a critical eye and ask yourself if you’ve been convincing enough to warrant receiving the scholarship. Rewrite it as many times as you need to ensure you’ve done the very best essay possible.
  • Give your final draft to others for proofreading, and don’t forget to enlist the help of your parents, your English teacher and/or your guidance counselor. Rewrite the essay with edits that are suggested and have someone else proof it again after each revision.
  • Submit your essay and admission application on time. It won’t do you any good to write an award winning essay if it’s submitted after the scholarship deadline.
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