A scholarship essay is the kind of paper allowing the scholarship committees to evaluate you as a suitable/unsuitable candidate to receive a grant for further study in the higher educational establishments. It is in the majority of cases the most responsible and the hardest part of an application, giving the judges a clear sense of who you are and whether you are worthy of the program. Eventually, the paper is written by everyone who’s graduated from a secondary school and aims for getting a scholarship to study at college. Unlike a generic essay, it has a different specificity: a winning paper not just states your achievements but unveils your real potential as the right and the only candidate to choose from hundreds of other applicants.
Points to pay a close attention to in your essay
Whenever it comes to writing a scholarship essay, there are some unspoken rules you should stick to gain the desired success. First things first, a common style is a no-go! There’s a great difference between a scholarship essay and scientific report – it should uncover the real you. There are lots of samples brightly demonstrating how the narration should be arranged and what aspects should be touched. But first and utmost, your essay should be catchy. Here are some tips to structure it properly:
#1. Hook the reader with the very first sentence
How you begin your essay to some greater extent determines how it will be accepted by the audience and whether it is going to be read at all. The key point here – no boring introductory sentences as if you were writing a philosophical outline.
- Sample 1: Strong leadership skills are exactly the things, making us reach our goals.
- Sample 2: December 14, 2008, was the day that changed my life entirely.
The first sample isn’t emphasized by emotional coloring, is quite impersonal and thus, contains no value for a reader. On the other hand, the sample two brings intrigue, makes a reader involved and forces him/her to read on. But then again, all attempts to demonstrate the vast knowledge of vocabulary and trying to play with the narration style already in your introductory sentence are usually treated as bragging. And it is best to skip that manner of writing when it’s your future at stake.
#2. Strictly follow the given instructions
If you are said to write 400-500 words on a topic you’ve been issued it means the resulting essay should not exceed the required quantity. Otherwise, it’s treated as an attempt to demonstrate a broader competence and knowledge of the topic. And that looks much like bragging or even arrogance in some cases. It’s doubtful someone would appreciate those qualities, so don’t fall into lust with words. Instead, stick to the following principles:
- Always focus on a topic
- Avoid repeating yourself
- Try making your sentences not too long (no more than 30 words)
- Care about the things you write
- Proofread your essay a couple of times before submitting it
#3. Try to be unpredictable within the set frames of rules
Quite often applicants are being asked to mention someone having the biggest influence on the choices and decisions they make. Some greater half starts speaking of family or closest friends yet; only a few choose to describe a person or character they have no any relationships with. In fact, the latter usually come in a more favorable light since they happen to surprise the committee by a non-standard way of thinking. Here you may find some useful information as to what to include in your essay to put yourself in a win-win situation. But considering the topic we discuss, trying to shock a reader or playing a case-hardened guy to impress the audience is again looks more like narcissism. Thus, writing things like “Michael Corleone should have announced me his adopted son” won’t do you much favor. You may, surely, argue that statement but facts remain as they are, your essay is expected to be engaging but not too pompous.
Mistakes you should avoid by all means
One of the most spread mistakes is to open an essay with a quote. Quite some applicants view this as an attempt to stand out from the crowd and draw attention to the text. As was earlier said, the first sentence should reflect something truly personal, intriguing and grab the reader right away. Naturally, citing some sources or classics has nothing to do with this fact. Moreover, it may lead to the thought you try boosting your erudition. And this could, surely, do you a huge disservice.
Another big mistake is to mention you need finances. Stating the facts like “you are my last resort to get money for education” is a direct way to get your candidacy denied. Read through this article and try figure out what was wrong with the applicant’s essay. The fact you apply for the scholarship already testifies you need money, so stay considerate, don’t push it.
And one more mistake to avoid is switching to the unrelated topics. One of the key requirements is that you strictly follow the topic and do not provide redundant information. Assuming the audience will gladly consume anything you feed them is an overconfident way of thinking. So unless you are willing to try out fate, we do not recommend you referring to that dubious method.
Naming your strong sides: how it’s supposed to be done
Stating facts like “honest, sociable, responsible…” is not exactly the way one points out his strong sides. Claiming to possess the outstanding leadership qualities is a poor attempt to gain one’s trust and a desire to give you a chance. That’s why it is highly recommended to carefully study the list of topics and questions that usually interest judges in what refers to your inner qualities. Quite often they want to know how you got involved in the leadership experience or what lessons have helped you develop this or that personal quality. Bragging you’ve been the captain of a school football team leaves no background for further dialogue unless you prove it may help you reach the set goals. You should highlight what kind of experience you’ve got out of it and how it can help you in your future profession. A student from Zimbabwe wrote: “I also participated in a fellowship program at Africa University, where I gained greater insight into social development.” Through messages like that judges must see you aren’t simply trying to meet their expectations but planning your future and looking forward to opportunities. There must be a potential in you, derived from all the strong sides you have. If you manage to demonstrate that, you’ll be on a roll.
Mentioning your major achievements
Without the slightest doubt, this section provides you with a great opportunity to brag a bit. Don’t get too tempted! Mentioning you can fix car issues is good in case you are going to sell car body parts in a nearby store. In the meantime, being unable to add some relevant information makes you trapped in your cage. Modesty, in this case, works against you, likewise an excessive bragging.
If you are going to study an IT sphere, you should attach information as to which courses you attended, what programs you know well and what were your highest achievements in programming. Discuss how you’ve started showing interest in this particular sphere. If it were some shooter games you used to play after school you can mention those as your most remarkable motivators. For example, you can write “it brought me to the thoughts what an ideal game could be. And I found myself wishing I could create it on my own”. However, if you start going into details as to plot, genre, storyline, etc. no one will appreciate your eagerness.
When speaking of any of your accomplishments, you should mention the results and the time it took you to gain those. Adding that sort of information will help the committee assess your level of devotion, same as point out your achievements. However, try to avoid phrases like “my grades were the highest in the class,” “I’ve beaten all the contestants” and other explicitly boastful sayings. Put it bluntly, they sound childish and evoke nothing but a mocking grimace. So don’t give another reason for a generous eye roll to show up, think well of your writing manner.
Summing up all the above said, composing a winning scholarship essay requires sticking to some rules that you do need to study carefully and obey strictly. Ability to grab your reader and hold him/her throughout the text is a key to achieving success and a possibility to enter a college/university of your dream. Thus, always aim for being unique and capable of surprising the audience. However, mind your style not to sound too self-centered or cocky. Other words stay engaged but keep away from bragging. And good luck out there!