While a resume lists important facts about you, an essay gives the scholarship committee a chance to see the real you: what you value, what you aspire to, how hard you have worked, and why you need a scholarship to realize your goals. A successful scholarship essay distinguishes you from other candidates. Therefore, honestly explain what your goals are, why they are your goals, and how specifically you plan to attain them, including steps that you have already taken.
Preparation always pays off at the end. You can prepare for your scholarship essay by brainstorming material to write about, including a list of your achievements, community involvement, leadership positions, strengths and weaknesses. You can ask yourself questions to gain specific details for the essay. For example, if you were writing your autobiography right now, what would be three things you would include? What would it mean for you to not achieve your goals? When did you fail miserably and when were you a fantastic success? What specifically do you want to be doing in ten years and why? From this material, you can select what the focus of the essay will be, and extract information from your brainstorming that supports the overall point.
Form a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement helps you focus and steer your content so that, rather than listing off many goals or achievements, you are selecting a few to properly explore and explain. The thesis statement should appear in the introduction of the essay and should be contained in a single, clear sentence. It serves to indicate the main categories you will be discussing and shows the reader that you have a point to make about your goals and how specifically they will benefit from the scholarship.
Craft For the Program
Determine the mission and identity of the particular scholarship program to which you are applying, and show how your experience has helped you to develop the skills and qualities that the selection committee is looking for. Show that you are a strong candidate in general, but also a good candidate for this particular scholarship. Catering your application to the program shows the scholarship committee that you have done your research, that you are professional and meticulous, and that you are a good fit for what they offer.
Give Specific Examples
Telling the reader about yourself is not as impacting as showing the reader who you are. For example, instead of writing that you are determined, you can write about the time you were rejected from a program and you appealed and worked hard and got the decision overturned. Providing specific examples makes you a more memorable candidate than those who describe themselves only through general adjectives such as "strong" and "ambitious." Ask yourself what aspects of your life reflect your commitment to the goals you are naming. You should provide evidence from your life and point of view that clearly state why you deserve to win a scholarship.
Have others proofread your essay to make certain it properly addresses the prompt, meets the word count requirement, is clear and concise, and contains no spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure that the essay shows how your educational and career goals are related, who you are and what motivates you. Give yourself sufficient time before the due date to read over, edit and revise the essay.
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images