As you begin to prepare for college, the question of how to get a scholarship is bound to come up. The first step, of course, is to identify scholarships for which you qualify.
Once you've chosen the scholarships for which you're planning to apply, you'll find that one of the major components of any scholarship application is the essay. Writing this essay is much like writing an essay for any high school or college class: your ideas must be well thought out, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and the essay should address the topic in depth.
Because so many students apply for college scholarships every year, the competition is tough. Your essay must stand out above the rest to help you secure the scholarship for which you are applying.
- Have a plan. You'd be surprised how many students apply for scholarships that are not in their areas of study! A large number of those who are seeking scholarships truly have no idea what to do to win student scholarships. It's important to have a plan in mind as you're getting ready to write - you need to be applying for the right scholarships, in the right field, and in the right way. Taking these steps will greatly increase the likelihood that your essay will grab the review committee's attention.
- Create an outline. Before you can begin responding to the topics addressed in your essay, you'll need to brainstorm and create an outline for your essay to follow. In many cases, the simplest method is to write down the main topic and jot down as many supporting details as possible. You should then organize your topic and details into an outline. Once you've completed this first step, your essay will be much easier to complete.
- Make it personal. In the majority of these essays, the committee who will be assessing them is looking for attributes of individual students that stand out from other applicants. You should look for opportunities to make your essay as personal as possible. Include examples of why or how you express or exemplify the issues you've addressed in the essay. Include important influences in your life. Discuss any major accomplishments you've attained or talents you have, if applicable. In other words, play up your strengths, and give direct examples when possible.
- Look at examples. While of course good scholarship essays must be unique to stand out in the eyes of the review committee, it's always a good idea to look at successful college essays as examples for you to consider. Ask your high school guidance counselor to give you some examples of scholarship-winning essays. As you read these essays, consider what stands out about each one. What makes it scholarship-worthy?
- Use vivid language. While you don't want to fill your essay with meaningless adjectives and adverbs, there is no doubt that clear and vivid language will capture the attention of the review committee. Make good use of a dictionary and a thesaurus, but don't overdo it by making your essay sound fake. Write your essay, and then reread it, looking for better words and phrases to express yourself.
- Address the topic. Be sure you address the topic assigned thoroughly. The review committee is typically looking for specific areas to be addressed. Don't overlook or ignore any part of the given question or topic. Address the topic, and provide supporting details as well as relevant and personal examples.
- The introduction is crucial. If you can't capture your audience's attention in the introduction of your essay, you'll have a difficult time holding their attention throughout the essay. Find a way to intrigue the review committee at the beginning of your paper, and play up that intrigue throughout your paper. You might want to begin with a personal experience that you can expand upon throughout the rest of your paper.
- Organization. Use transitional phrases, such as "in addition," "however," "therefore," "in conclusion," and so on. Make sure your sentences flow from one to the next. Organize your paper, and be sure your points don't jump around from one topic to the next. It's also important to make sure you paper has a clear conclusion.
- Watch out for grammatical errors. Don't just rely on your eyes for proofreading. Ask at least two other people to proofread your paper, looking for spelling and grammatical errors. A surprisingly large number of scholarship applications contain serious grammatical errors, and an error-free paper could be the difference in a winning scholarship essay. Revise over a period of several days until you are completely satisfied with your efforts.
If you follow the guidelines above you'll quickly find yourself on the path to writing a successful application essay and landing that college scholarship!