Nothing gives the scholarship committee a clearer insight into the mind of an applicant than their original writing. Perhaps this is the reason that most scholarships require an essay along with the application of eligible candidates.
A scholarship essay is an excellent opportunity for a candidate to set himself or herself apart from the competition and communicate clearly to the scholarship committee why they deserve the scholarship.
To help you get started, here are a few tips on how to write a clear and persuasive scholarship essay:
Start well before the deadline: As a first step, do ensure that you start the process of application and writing well before the deadline. The more time you give yourself to write and submit your essay, the better its chances of coming out strong.
Plan and outline: Assuming you’ve followed the above, you should have plenty of time to plan your draft. Make sure you read and understand the essay topic. In case you’re given a choice of topics, stick to the one that appeals to you the most, rather than trying to second guess yourself over which would appeal to the committee. Prepare an outline and ensure you cover all the points you need to convey before you jump in to write.
Formatting: Yes, it is important to stand out, but your font choice should not be the place for it. So probably a good idea to avoid comic sans. Unless specified otherwise, use 12-point Times New Roman, with double spacing between lines and one-inch top, bottom, and side margins. Remember – your objective is to make your essay readable.
Begin strong: Your first few sentences are where you can either grab the reader and compel them to pay attention to every word or turn them off completely, leading them to skim through the rest of it. A weak beginning, thus, could be disastrous for you, even if the rest of the essay is wonderfully written.
Stand out: You are competing with thousands of other students applying for the same scholarship and possibly writing on the same topic. So perhaps best to leave hackneyed and cliché-ridden writing to your competition and try to write something original. From the committee’s perspective, what they’re looking for is someone who stands out from the crowd. Be creative – look for an angle that only you can think of. Merge your personal experience with the story you’re telling to bring in a perspective that is unique and original.
Stick to the word Limit: There’s nothing worse than a job almost well done. There’s a lot of money on the line, so the least you can do is sticking to the prescribed word limit.
Don’t go off topic: When you’re writing about your personal experiences, there’s a danger of veering off-topic and rambling on unnecessarily. Here’s where your outline would help you to stay focused on the central argument you’re forwarding.
Always proofread – You’ve completed your essay and feel great about it. But before you submit it, it is advisable to proofread it several times. A typographical error or spelling mistake could spell doom for you and your application. Read it aloud, or even better, get your friends or someone you trust to read it and take their feedback. Remember, the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.
In the end, the principles of great writing are the same, no matter the medium. If you’re able to present a clear, concise and cogent argument to the committee, the congratulatory letter isn’t far from being in your inbox.