6 Tips for US Scholarship Essays
Writing essays for scholarship applications can be tricky and it’s important to know what goes into submitting a successful essay.
Unlike US college application essays prompts, scholarship essay prompts are usually more open-ended. “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” is a common topic and you should know how to approach scholarship essays. Here are a few tips that can help you write a successful essay for scholarship applications.
Understand the prompt
You should know whether you are applying for a financial, need-based or merit-based scholarship. As the names suggest, need-based scholarship essays usually require you to elaborate on your academic / career goals and demonstrate your financial need. Merit-based scholarship essays are typically more open-ended, allowing you to write about experiences that reflect your personal values and ambitions:
If you find a template online, you should be aware that you’re probably not the first or only one to find or use it. You can draw inspiration from templates but should not use them word-for-word and simply plug your story into a cookie-cutter structure. Your reviewer will be going through hundreds of applications and you must think of innovative ways to stand out and make your essay memorable.
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Speak for yourself
Seeking professional help while writing essays is a common practice, but don’t let someone else narrate your story. You know yourself better than anybody else, and only you know the exact details of your life experiences. Finding ways to refine your essay through professional help is okay, but remember to keep your essay as original as possible.
It’s important to understand that ultimately, scholarship funds serve to further an awarding organization’s mission. Whether you’re applying for a scholarship through a government organization, private institution, non-profit, or even a university - you should research the organization sponsoring the scholarship in order to better understand their values and beliefs.
Find a balance
Students often struggle to walk the line between appearing too boastful or coming across too modest. It’s important to find a compelling but subtle way to describe your accomplishments and ambitions as you tell your story and make a case for why you are the right recipient for the scholarship you’re applying to.
Review, Review, Review
Details matter - even if you have great ideas and a compelling narrative, small errors or typos stand out and reflect poorly on your attention to detail and level of effort. Proofread your essay and triple check for sentence structure, spelling, and grammar. Seek help from friends / peers / counselors; ask them to review your essay and remember to keep an open mind when receiving their feedback.