Nailing the Scholarship Essay
If you’re going after a scholarship, it’s likely you will have to write an essay. Unlike earlier times, most scholarships require more than just good grades. The essay says a lot about you. It can state how professional you are and it’s a chance to let your personality shine through.
Most of the time, the scholarship application will say how to format your essay, but if it doesn’t, follow the typical guidelines: 1 inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, and double spaced. These are similar, if not identical, to the requirements of most school papers.
Before you do anything, make sure you know the objective. Study the directions until you are positive what the requirements are and what needs to be done.
After, it is recommended that you jot down an outline. It will help generate ideas and give you a grasp on what you’re covering in the essay. Once you quickly write it down, edit it until you are happy with the points you’ve decided to write about. Write the essay by expanding on the main ideas you mentioned in the outline.
One step that is important is not to over complicate things. Use clear language that cuts straight to the point, but also make sure it is simple. Don’t write the essay with the vocabulary of a seventh grade student, but don’t use big words excessively – especially if you aren’t completely sure on the usage or meaning of the word.
Lastly, always make sure to reread the prompt. Sometimes, the essay may not fully address what the prompt or requirements said to write, and if this case, it’s best to edit it. It’s important to follow the instructions exactly. If the main topic isn’t fully discussed, edit or add a paragraph in. If the word count is too high or too low, fix it. It seems minimal, but not following formatting requirements can disqualify you. Along with that, poor writing shows poor communication. If the essay is too complex or too ordinary, or simple, it will generally disqualify you as well.
There are common mistakes that people make. For example, don’t start the essay with a quote. In school, it’s often taught that opening with a quote is a great attention grabber. This can be true, but most people misuse it – not to mention it’s incredibly over used. If an essay is going to stand out, most of the time it involves using your own words. People who judge the essay already know what Ernest Hemingway said. They want to know what you have to say.
Briefly mentioned above, don’t use new words that you aren’t completely confident on the meaning of. Big words are impressive, but if you misuse them it will hurt the credibility of the essay. If you use too many big words, that will also hurt the essay. It’s hard to grasp the meaning of what the essay says if it’s covered in big words. Simplifying the essay will help both the judge and you. It puts you at lower risk of misusing a word or making little mistakes such as choosing the wrong tense.
Make the essay professional. This includes proofreading the essay. If you can, show it to someone who can read it and fix the minor errors that you may miss. You can also read it out loud. Studies show that reading an essay out loud can help find mistakes, because it will show when the paragraph may not sound right or flow nicely.
If you wouldn’t show the essay to your English professor, don’t turn it in. It’s important to make what you say sound professional and down to earth. The content should be unique and come from you. The essay is meant to show character, and ultimately, that’s what will be judged.