Contrary to what many people will say, you don’t need to be a professional writer to craft winning scholarship essays. However, there are points and tips you need to observe if you want to be outstanding with your essay. Scholarship opportunities are what many students crave to get, and most developing/African countries have a pool of opportunities. When you’re eligible and apply in line with the requirements, you stand better opportunities.
In most cases, when applying for a scholarship, you need to write and submit an essay. Others work with the submitted applications or transcripts. But then the big question becomes, “what makes a winning essay?” This question never gets old, but here’s a quick reminder! There are no laid rules to writing a winning essay, but you need to follow what works. Unless there are custom specifications, you can use this format:
- Times New Roman font
- A font size of 12
- Double spacing
- One-inch side, top and bottom margins
Let’s dive in and uncover how to write winning essays that place you above other applicants!
1. Read the instructions
One of the keys to successful essay writing is to understand the purpose of your essay. It begins with paying in-depth attention to the instructions while reading more than once. Before you pick up your pen or jump on your keyboard to write/type, ensure you understand the instructions completely. Most scholarship providers have an outline of instructions they want applicants to follow. When you fail to read and understand these, your chances of reaching the next milestone in the application process becomes slim.
2. Make your essay exclusive to you
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to gather previous scholarship essay entries, you will notice something. Each of the essays has a distinctive approach, and you’d barely find many things that are common with these entries. This goes to mean that exclusiveness works. Uniqueness is key, and judges don’t toy with it.
Now, when you pick up your pen to craft your essay, strive to personalize it, speak from your perspective and make it exclusive to you. Ensure you draw on your passion for the course you’re about to study to make your essay stand out.
3. Define your goals
There is more to being familiar with a particular essay topic or doing research about it. Being able to understand the purpose of the essay and set your goals crown it all. Before you start writing, you need to have a clear answer to a quick but uneasy question – “what are the goals for this essay?”
Goals of each essay may vary depending on the audience, specific essay requirements, among others. Imagine a possible scenario where you’re trying to convince judges that you can strike a healthy balance between your academic life and personal life. The story would be different from a case where you want the judges to know that you were able to overcome many challenges in life.
When it comes to defining your essay goals, you need to set up an overall theme that synchronizes with the subject you want to write on.
4. Find and understand the key themes
While defining your goals, it’s not uncommon to read the question over and over again. This will put the key themes right before your eyes and make you spot them. Take for instance, in an essay statement that goes thus; “situations where I’ve shown quality innovation and leadership, and how it made a striking difference.” Apparently, the key terms here are “innovation” and “leadership.” With these in mind, you can hone your focus more on these terms and find a way to meet the goals of the essay. It isn’t advisable to fill up your essay with monotonous words. However, do well to use these key terms and their synonyms as much as possible without making your essay fluffy.
5. Draw an outline that flows
While there are no certified principles on writing scholarship essays, it’s well-known that people who start with an outline often craft better content than those without a writing plan. The reason is not far-fetched! While brainstorming, you bump on various key ideas you can elaborate afterwards. When you put them down in an outline, they’ll guide you through the writing process. With a good outline that flows, you can cover every point you want to make on your essay in an impressive structure.
6. Kick off with a catchy start
Have you ever bumped on a social media update, and closed the page after reading the first few lines? Apparently, it wasn’t catchy enough to hold you spellbound, wanting to know more. This is applicable to the essay you write for scholarship opportunities.
It’s quite understandable that many struggle to start writing their scholarship essay but seem to flow better in the remaining part of the work. If you are struggling to kick off, you may want to include a statement or a quote that relates to your field of study. You can display a wider knowledge of the statement/quote in the body of the essay. This convinces the judges that you have an appreciable level of knowledge about your chosen course. With this, you stand a better opportunity of winning scholarships.
7. Elaborate every point on your outline
While writing an outline, it’s vital to include all the necessary points you need to discuss subsequently. When it comes to writing the essay properly, open with a catchy start and elaborate the points on your outline one after the other. At this point, you must have been sure about what you’re writing and how your story relates to the topic. For each of the points, ensure it has a connection with the topic in question and keep an eye on engagement.
Judges tend to be more impressed when a write up engages them. This is why you have to keep your work somewhat short but catchy while hitting the main points as required.
Do well to find out the criteria the scholarship committee uses to evaluate scholarship application essays. This will help you address issues related to these criteria even when the question doesn’t demand them. Some committees hone their focus on leadership; others focus on self-development, giving back to the society, innovation, among others.
8. Revise! Revise!! Revise!!!
The need for revisions can never be overemphasized. Now, take a look at it like this; the first copy you produce is a draft. You need to take time out to read every word to find out errors. Unlike many people who might ignore arguably minor mistakes, judges will hardly overlook them. Ranging from grammatical errors to sentence structures and punctuations, you have to read your essay carefully to proofread it.
Often, one of the keys to crafting winning essays is not to tell judges; it’s all about showing them. If you had talked about some examples in your essay, spice it up to show judges how it really relates to your life.
While this might not work often, it’s good to keep your scholarship essay in the present tense as much as you can. Next, eliminate fluffy words and pass the message you have in mind in a few words.
Double-check your introduction. Is it catchy enough? Now, imagine a scenario where you’re a strange reader of your work; would you feel the urge to read more? If not, you may want to rewrite your introduction to make it catchier.
This is one of the parts of your essay you shouldn’t undermine. It should be such that one can easily depict the bottom line of your work. For better conclusion, try to reiterate your introduction and how your experience will make you better or cause a better effect in the future.
Congratulations! You’ve crafted a winning scholarship essay. But before you swim in the euphoria, you may want to reach out to a few learned friends to review your work. While you try as much to keep your work private, find people who have been there, have better academic qualifications and know their onions to review your work. They might point out one or more things that will require your attention.
Here’s a quick tip; whenever you’re writing a scholarship essay and want to be on a better side, strive to show who you really are! Talk about the relevant present and past experiences that show you’re tenacious and can achieve or make an impact. Put up a positive mindset and be mindful of your words to show your ambition and passion. Believe in yourself and express it, because if you don’t, the judges wouldn’t either.
Good luck with your next scholarship essay writing!