Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

By:  Lauren Benters, School Counselor

Lighthouse-College-Planning (15)

Scholarship essays are a good way for you to earn a few thousand dollars here and there to help offset student loans.  Here are a few tips to help you write essays that win.

  • Research the scholarship you are applying for.  What are the values behind the scholarship?  What is the organization/scholarship stand for?  That will become very important to tie your essay back to.  You still need your essay to tell a specific example about you, but if you can use your example to make connections to that scholarship, the readers are more apt to award you.
  • While you can use similar themes in scholarship essays, don’t get lazy and copy/paste.  It becomes so obvious when students have one essay and submit it to every scholarship.  Take the whole 20-30 minutes longer to read and understand what the question is asking of you, and answer that, specifically based on what you have experienced.  Yes, you will have similar essays, but they should all be a bit different.  This personalization can pay big dividends.
  • Focus on one aspect of your character that stands out.  Committees are looking to award someone money, but they have to decide who is most deserving.  They will usually have your GPA, so it is pretty clear what type of student you are.  What is not as clear?  Who you are as a person.  We all have qualities that make us different and exceptional.  What are yours?  When you’ve pointed that out, see if reading your own essay would make you want to award you the money.

Take the time to fill out scholarships!  So many students trick themselves into thinking the amount of effort for the scholarship is not worth it.  Wrong!  Remember, loans accrue interest you have to pay back.  Scholarships are gifts with zero payback.  Take the extra time, as it literally pays off.  You’d be surprised how many students don’t apply for scholarships, so the pool is typically small, leaving you a good chance for you to be awarded those gifts.

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