Do you know how to write a scholarship essay?

You’ve met the requirements to apply for a local or national college or university scholarship.  Before you submit some scholarship applications you must write a scholarship essay.  Although you might feel nervous about writing the essay, with a few tips you can learn how to write a scholarship essay that increases your chances of getting free financial aid, the kind you don’t have to pay back.

And sure, it probably seems like enough work just filling out a long college or university scholarship application.  On top of that many scholarships also require you to have a 2.5 or 3.0 grade point average (GPA) and have a history of being actively involved in your community.  To make sure that you have a solid understanding of the information included in your essay, some scholarship organizations test your knowledge by having you type your essay online within a specific timeframe (e.g. 30 minutes).

Get to Know Your Essay’s Reading Audience

As with other types of writing, before you start penning your essay make sure that you understand the audience you’re writing for.  In other words, if you are a chemistry major applying for a scholarship with a professional chemistry association comprised mainly of people with PhDs, make sure you write at the association’s educational and work experience levels.  Also address how you will use your essay to better the community, schools, etc.

Let’s say you’re applying for a math scholarship through a private teacher’s foundation and the scholarship is awarded to education majors who plan to teach math in under-represented school districts.  When you write your scholarship essay include examples of how you will inspire students from economically and/or socially challenged backgrounds to not only acquire an appreciation for math but to also excel academically in the subject.

Techniques for Writing Your Scholarship Essay

On the other hand, some scholarship essays require you to conduct research or provide your opinion on a subject that’s dominating the media and/or social networks and other public forums.  For example, you might be asked to create a graph that illustrates the changes teacher unions have experienced over the past two to three decades then provide your commentary on the researched material as well as your thoughts about a recent teacher union court case.

This is where knowing your subject is important.  Approach the essay the same way you would a high school or college term paper.  Visit the library or search reputable online sources (e.g. government websites, professional organizations) and gather information that helps you respond to the essay question.  Write your essay in the active voice and use first person (i.e. “I”) to personalize your writing.  Also start your essay with a sentence that grabs your reader’s attention, similar to the way a good book grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading.

Writing Open Ended College and University Scholarship Essays

If the essay is open ended, meaning you can write about any subject you choose, pick an interesting subject to write about (e.g. how getting a quality education has changed your life, what it means to you and your relatives for you to be the first person in your family to attend college).  Provide two to three examples to reinforce your statements.  Before closing your essay, mention local organizations that you are a member of, what your short and long term educational and career goals are and how you plan to use your college or university degree to help others.  Remember that professionals who provide funding for scholarships are people who view helping others as a priority.  After all, they are helping you and other students to gain a quality education.

Before you submit your essay, have two to three people read it over.  As a tip, if you have someone who’s skilled in English to read your essay, you can increase your chances of catching grammatical errors.  Also, run a spell check on the essay.  If the essay is typed on a website, just copy and paste it into a Word document and run the spell check that way.

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