Scholarship Applications: Writing for Success!

27 May

As the number of available scholarships grows with each passing year, it is important to take advantage of each and every opportunity! When researching scholarship opportunities through your school and external organizations, it can become quite clear that nearly any scholarship application will include a written portion. While these written portions can vary from question and answer to longer essays, there are a few tips and tricks you can keep in mind to successfully complete the writing portion and set yourself apart from the crowd!

Follow the Instructions 

Nearly any scholarship or other application with a written portion will include instructions. Some scholarship applications will include only a word limit. In this case, make sure to stay within that word limit, but do try to show a bit about your educational journey, your plans for the future, and how this scholarship could help you achieve your goals.

Other scholarship applications may include a specific prompt that you should address, or even a set of questions. Make sure to address the prompt carefully and answer any and all questions asked. Following the instructions carefully not only helps the review committee as they read through the applications, but it also shows that you can follow instructions.

Know Your Audience 

When reviewing the scholarship application, pay close attention to the instructions provided and also to the organization or institution offering the scholarship. Doing a little bit of research into that organization or institution can help you to better understand their goals and missions, which can help you recognize what they are looking for in their applicants.

For example, when applying for a scholarship from an organization or institution that emphasizes financial need, it is important to address not only your educational goals and plans for the future, but also your financial need. Such an organization or institution will look closely for that information; doing a little bit of research means that you can emphasize it and show how you align with their overall goals.

Be Memorable 

Think about what you are going to write about and plan accordingly. This will help you to not only make sure that you address all of the necessary pieces of information and consider your audience, but it can also help you to make sure that you are memorable. Drafting an outline will help you develop a plan that you can follow as you begin writing, which can allow you to better emphasize certain points. This can also help you stay within a word limit.

Otherwise, make it personal and passionate! Many students will apply for multiple scholarships and may develop a “one-size-fits-all” essay to use in the process. If you plan ahead, pay attention to the prompt, know your audience, and highlight your unique goals and individuality as a student, you can stand apart from the pack. Feel free to include your unique perspectives and experiences, as long as they relate to your educational goals and/or the scholarship you are applying for.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help 

As with any writing task, it can be difficult to know where to begin or if you have addressed the prompt effectively. If you are stuck and do not know where to begin, do not be afraid to ask for help! It can be difficult to write about yourself, but scholarship applications rely on showing that you are the best applicant and that you should receive the award. Do not be afraid to toot your own horn, but also feel free to ask your friends, family, and teachers for help describing yourself, your achievements, and what makes you unique.

The same applies to your finished product. Once you have finished writing, review the prompt and your essay, and ask a  teacher, tutor, or friend (or all of the above!) to take a look at it for you. Having another set of eyes to review your work can help with grammatical issues, proofreading, and even things like word choice! Additionally, working with a friend, teacher, or tutor can help you to uncover additional things that you could include to strengthen your essay. If you schedule an appointment with a tutor in the Writing Center, exchange application essays with a friend, and ask a teacher to take a look at what you have written, you will effectively have three different sets of eyes – that means you are receiving three times the feedback and you can make your application three times stronger!

© Alyssa Ryan 

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