Are you one of millions of students applying for scholarships in hopes of helping offset the cost of college? Does the thought of all those college scholarship essays keep you from applying for some of the scholarships you would most like to win? Consider some of these writing tips for tackling the daunting task of essay writing.
- Read the scholarship requirements -- twice. Highlight. Underline. Rethink. Don't overlook a requirement that you obviously don't meet. Go to the next scholarship. On the other hand, don't automatically assume you don't meet a specific requirement. Think outside the box. Ask someone who knows you if there's something in your background that you can tailor to meet a specific requirement, even if it's not in the first way that comes to mind.
- Consider your audience. Who is awarding the scholarship? Who will read your essay? Are they a highly educated alumni group from a top-notch, university? Or are they a local community service organization that might be interested in directing funds to young people who have a positive effect in local communities? Keep the audience in mind as you write your essay. Also, an essay is not a formal English paper. It most cases it should be conversational in tone – written in the voice of an 18-year-old.
- Keep a file of past essays you've written. You most likely have spent hours crafting exceptional essays to help you get into college or for other scholarships. Can you rework any of these or parts of several for other scholarships out there? Don't try to force a round peg into a square hole, but by all means, if you can get double duty out of your work, go for it.
- Brainstorm ideas. Write down, without passing judgment, anything that comes to mind as you consider items you might include in your essay. Even those thoughts that might seem silly or "not good enough" can provide fodder for interesting content. Some seemingly insignificant phrases might be just what you need as you work through your essay draft.
- Aim for more ideas and raw material than you need. Then select the best and most relevant details to include in the final version. Save unused material for future applications.
- Let your essay get cold. After you finish your essay, leave it alone for a day or two. Come back to it and read it with fresh eyes. Chances are you can polish it even more.
- Proofread thoroughly. Have someone proofread your essay a final time. Make sure what you submit contains no errors in grammar, spelling or usage. It's fine to have a parent or even a teacher check to see if any errors have slipped through.