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How to Write a "Why I Deserve This Scholarship" Essay

by Van Thompson, Demand Media

    Scholarships, particularly highly competitive academic ones, often require essays outlining the reasons applicants deserve this scholarship. This is your opportunity to let your unique talents shine through in a clear, well-written essay. An essay on why you deserve a scholarship should focus on the achievements you've had that are relevant to the scholarship. It should also highlight the talents you bring to a program and the ways in which choosing you can benefit the school or program you've selected.

    Scholarship Focus

    Focus your essay on the topic or writing prompt you're given, not a broad and general topic. Financial aid offices sometimes ask students to focus on their biggest achievements, their biggest struggles, their goals for the future, their most cherished values or the ways in which they can benefit an academic program. Your essay should directly answer this question. If you're given a broader topic that simply asks you to explain why you deserve the scholarship, brainstorm about your most impressive achievements and the most unique things you can offer to a program, then focus your essay on these personal traits and achievements. Where possible, emphasize the ways in which your life experiences have helped you develop your skills. For example, you might mention how mentoring at-risk children has helped you develop compassion and a strong work ethic.

    Thesis Statement

    All papers, including scholarship essays, need a thesis statement outlining your main argument. A thesis will help you keep your paper focused, and for scholarship essays, your thesis might argue that you deserve the scholarship because of prior academic achievement or because of the ways in which the scholarship will enable you to continue a program at which you've excelled. Every sentence and paragraph in your paper should relate to your thesis. Avoid veering into off-topic discussions.

    Previous Achievements

    Highlighting your previous achievements, particularly those relevant to the scholarship you want, is key for a winning essay. If you've achieved something that is not mentioned elsewhere in your application packet, the essay is a great chance to mention it and to explain its relevance to your scholarship application. For example, you might argue that you have an excellent work ethic as evidenced by your time organizing a volunteer program while taking a heavy course load.

    Future Goals

    While admissions offices and scholarship organizations might be impressed by your previous achievements, they want to know the ways in which these achievements can benefit them. Outline the ways in which you will use the scholarship. For example, mention that a school's rigorous math program will give you an opportunity to expand upon your math achievements or address ideas for programs you'd like to start. You might mention that you want to start a tutoring organization for children or that you intend to publish a paper addressing a particular academic problem.

    Grammar and Structure

    There's no room for grammatical or spelling errors in a scholarship essay, so check and double-check your paper and have someone else review it. Your structure should be clear and well-organized, with a logical flow. While your paper should avoid overly casual language and slang, it should also be fun to read. Don't use dry, academic language; instead write in a way that displays your personality.

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    About the Author

    Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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