So your scores qualify you for a scholarship. Brava! But wait…there are probably several others who are equally qualified. How do you stand out from the crowd? Easy. That is what a scholarship essay does for you; when it’s done right, you’ll shine bright as a beacon. A great scholarship essay will give the admissions committee a chance to see you as an individual. That means you’ve got to put together an essay that is unique and compelling.
How do you go about writing a brilliant essay? Just follow these tips, and don’t forget to start working on it early. You’ll see why.
You can write a great piece but it won’t mean anything if it does not answer the question. You have to understand the question and the themes that it is asking you to address. You may have questions about personal achievements, academic interests, current events, personal influences and generic questions. The purpose of each needs to be determined before you go anywhere close to responding to it. In this stage, it is also necessary to read through the instructions like word limit. This will help you plan your approach better.
Take a sheet of paper and write the key themes in big, bold letters on the top to help keep your thoughts on track. Now start writing anything and everything you associate with it. If ‘leadership’ is the theme, any and every occasion where you’ve exhibited leadership traits or led a team is game.
You can then talk to your teachers, family and friends. You may be surprised to learn things about yourself and incidents that you’ve overlooked. These observations can be added to your rough notes. Mind maps can be good tool to use while ideating.
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Outline the Scholarship Essay
Take a look at your rough notes, strike off what does not contribute to the essay, and retain only 3-5 strong points. Once you’ve done that, you can map the essay. The basic structure of an essay includes an introductory paragraph that needs a hook and a thesis, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. The conclusion need not summarize the earlier points but should flow to a natural end.
Write the Scholarship Essay
The outline will make writing a lot easier as it will keep you focused. You know what you want to write, all you need to do is focus on writing – the language and telling the story. Inject some personality into your writing because that is what an application essay boils down to. This is not the time for thinking and self-editing as you will get there soon enough. Once you finish writing – take a day or two – put the essay to rest for a day at least.
Edit the Scholarship Essay
After giving yourself a short break from the essay, you can get to editing. Start by reading it aloud. Inconsistencies are more obvious when a piece is read aloud. You may need to go over it a couple of times. Look out for grammar and spelling mistakes, lengthy sentences, weak sentence structures, and a bumpy flow that may need some smoothing.
You are not done with it yet. A fresh pair of eyes and perspective always help. Ask a friend or mentor who is good at editing to go over the essay. They may call out issues that you’ve missed out.
Another round of polishing later, you are done with the essay, and ready to give it a kiss and send it off to work its magic on the admissions committee. Yay, you…well done!