Applying for scholarships would be literally like taking a stroll in a park if it wasn’t for the essays. There are very few scholarships out there that do not demand for an essay. As a matter of fact, the essay is the most difficult part as well as the most important part of your application. It is a chance to prove your case to the scholarship committee on why you merit or deserve the scholarship. It also gives you the chance to sell your personality and what you’re passionate about.
If you are planning on applying for a scholarship, there are some details that just might make your entry win.
So Today, we share with you the 10 steps to write a winning scholarship essay.
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- Start on time
It is important to begin writing your scholarship ahead of the deadline. This gives you ample time to brainstorm and proofread the essay. You are also afforded the wiggle room to go over the essay, make corrections, adjustments and improvements. If you wait till the eleventh hour to begin writing your essay, you may end up with a poorly written essay riddled with typographical errors.
- Choose the right scholarship
One common mistake applicants make is they work so hard to write essays for the wrong scholarship. What does this mean? A lot of scholarships are created with a particular cause or demographic in mind, so you might have stellar results with straight A’s and write a compelling essay but still get turned down. Take for instance a math genius applying for scholarship meant for history students. The Jack and Jill America scholarship foundation celebrates the excellence of African Americans while the Common wealth Master’s scholarship is for students from developing countries. Check to make sure you are eligible for the scholarship you are writing for.
- Do your research
Try to find out about the company or organization giving out the scholarship. Familiarize with their mission, vision and motivation for giving the scholarship. This information will help you tailor your essay to fit the persona the scholarship is looking for. Many scholarship providers also feature previous scholarship winners on their website, often with the essay that won. Read these essays to get a sense of what they are after.
- Adhere to instructions.
While this might seem obvious, a lot of applicants fail this simple test. It is important to read the instructions carefully and do well to adhere to all of them. Details like the word count and essay format are easily skipped by overzealous applicants who while their essay maybe good, ruin their chances by failing to adhere to the essay instructions. Read between the lines of the essay prompt and understand what the committee might require of you.
- Your introduction has to be perfect, not good.
Yes! Just as with every competition that comes with a prize, there are always many entrants. The scholarship committee has to go through thousands of essays and you will do well not to bore them with your introduction. The introduction is what draws the reader to your essay and convinces them to keep going; hence this part of the essay has to be your strongest. Your introduction has to be perfect, not good. Look at these two examples below;
First introduction: My first time of travelling to Lagos was in 2018 for a friend’s wedding.
Second introduction: It was 2018; our bus screeched to a grinding halt in a chaotic Oshodi, I knew I had arrived Lagos.
The second sentence gives the reader something to look for; it makes them curious to know what happened next, if your luggage got stolen, how you left the ‘chaotic Oshodi’ and what happened after that. It leaves unanswered questions that keep the reader drawn to your essay.
- Evoke emotion
The best and easiest way to draw emotion is to tell a compelling story. We are all enthused by stories long before our ancestors started peeling orange with knife. When done right, this can help the reader connect with you and keep their attention on your essay. Emotions also help the reader to see you as a person rather than a faceless author. Tell personal stories and experiences that have shaped your growth, and relate them why you are applying to the scholarship.
- Mention only relevant accomplishment
If you have mentioned your accomplishments in another part of your application; the essay is not the place to start mentioning them all over again. Only pick one or two relevant accomplishments that will help you further emphasize your strengths and positive qualities, and tell the story that led to achieving them. Just don’t start mentioning accomplishments for the sake of mentioning them.
Make the committee see the ‘go getter’ you are and how the scholarship, if gotten, will be another stepping stone towards your aspirations.
- Be specific and concise.
You don’t want to go off script in a scholarship essay. It is easy to get carried away. For instance when telling a personal story, it is important to be apt and not give superfluous information. This is especially important when the essay has a word count, every word matters and it would be wise not to use too many words on information that might not sway or interest the reader.
- Your conclusion should be apt.
Most people use the conclusion to simply paraphrase the entire essay. You should do better than that. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for something unique. One great way to make your conclusion memorable is by posing a question for the reader to think about. Or you could take the reader back to a curious point you raised from the beginning.
- Mind your words and language.
It is best to stick to simple words and phrases when writing your essay. The committee can tell when you have written an essay with a thesaurus as your guide. Often, ‘big words’ are used in the wrong context or duplicated too frequently. Try not to overwhelm the reader with grandiloquent expressions… Hmmm! Did I just say, grandiloquent? You don’t need these ‘big words’ to write a good essay. It is also important not to use swear words or offensive words. Abbreviations and compressed phrases like ‘Lol’ should also be avoided.
There you have it. The ten tips to write a winning scholarship essay. We hope we have been able to get one or two lessons to help you write your essay.
Remember, it is an essay not an exam. Relax, feel free to stop writing at some point and take time off. Be original and confident. Write your essay in a compelling manner using some of our guidelines. We wish you the best of luck.
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