What Should I Include on an Essay for a Scholarship Application?

Writing the scholarship application essay may seem daunting to many high school juniors and seniors eager to jump on the college track. It may seem like the essay that accompanies the application papers is key to setting the applicant apart from the competition. This is true to a great extent because the essay can be crafted into something that embodies the applicant’s personality, goals and accomplishments. “Show, don’t tell” is classic writing advise ingrained in students, and the scholarship essay is a good place to apply this.

Review the Guidelines Thoroughly

Your goal as the essay writer is to create content that is engaging, insightful and memorable. Avoid early disqualification due to non-compliance with required mechanics. Make sure that you understand the prescribed format and maximum word count. These guidelines exist to make it easy for the screening committee to evaluate and rank hundreds of essays within the allocated time. The word count is typically a hard limit; it will also help you to stay on point and write concisely. Ensure that you meet eligibility requirements for the scholarship program to avoid wasting your time.

Pre-writing the Essay

Study the writing prompt or theme provided then analyze the theme in the context of the organizational mission of the scholarship sponsor. Take the time to do some research about the sponsoring organization and their community involvement. Keep this information in mind as you prepare your outline, and make sure to reference these points as you draft the essay.

For instance, if the sponsoring organization is involved in promoting early literacy programs, focus your essay on your experiences and accomplishments as a reading tutor and library volunteer.

Define the Main Points Clearly

Depending on the word count, you may have to present two to four main points to support the stance you are taking. With limited word count, present your relevant achievements in descending order from most important to least valuable. It’s okay to brag about your accomplishments provided the information is relevant to the points you are making.

Write a personal and passionate essay explaining why you are the best candidate for the scholarship. Keep the evaluators engaged with relatable anecdotes written with wit and a keen sense of self-awareness. Present yourself in the best light, and the evaluation committee will view your scholarship application essay positively.

Write with your Audience in Mind

Scholarship committees assess your leadership qualities, extracurricular involvement, education and career direction. They are also trying to gauge if any special circumstances makes you stand out from the crowd of applicants. Even as you respond to the given writing prompt, keep the elements of the rubric in mind. Grammar and mechanics should be impeccable as this reflects thoroughness and commitment on your part.

Assume that the pool of applicants will have similar goals and educational achievements as you have. To make sure that your applications stands out, write an essay that resonates with people. Be honest; be bold and make sure that your scholarship application essay meets all the guidelines of the scholarship program.