Top 9 Tips On How To Win In Scholarship Essay Contests

Mike Russel

Writing scholarship contests are your chance to get financial aid to pay for college. Even if you fit the bill to get it, there may be a candidate with similar grades and achievements. That is why a well-written essay plays a key role. Who will the committee prefer? It all depends on you! Your essay is the answer to the question of why it is important to invest in your education. Bear in mind, it is not a charity. Thus, the content should include arguments about why you deserve it. 

Preparation Of The Scholarship Essay Outline

We have memorized the basic structure of the paper since our school days. Introduction, body, and conclusion – it is not so difficult. Yet, when it comes to the life-changing scholarship essay, many students get nervous. So they google “How to start off an introduction” and “How to format an essay”. Actually, things are not that complicated. As usual, first comes the preparation stage which includes 3 steps:

  1. Collect information

    As it is crucial to carefully assess the current situation, do not skip this step. You will only waste your time if you ignore the requirements. So how to gather additional information? Ask school counselors or the Financial Aid Office to help you. Also, you can contact the Graduate Admission Coordinator to find out more about directions and deadlines. Look through the university website and find out about funding programs.
    Take the time to scrutinize the selected program and the website to figure out what the university is looking for. Try to find past winners to chat with them. The more complete and diverse the collected information is, the more profitable you will be able to present yourself.

  2. Get to know the scholarship essay prompts and topics

    Then, analyze the mission and objectives of the university. It will guide the choice of the main topic as it has to correspond to them. Prompts are always ticklish questions. They may sound like “Why do I deserve this scholarship?” or “How will this scholarship benefit you?”. But in fact, you have to grasp the underlying message. If you do not do so, you will not answer the implicitly posed question. 
    Imagine there are scholarship essay contests for a business program. The simple question “Why do you want to study business?” implies a deeper meaning. The committee members want to know why candidates believe they are the future gurus they should invest in. If they give you money, will the university reap the fruits of your labor?

  3. Have a brainstorming session

    As always, the daunting challenge is to organize your thoughts. The following groups of questions should help you generate ideas:

    What do you consider your main achievements? Take on board, here you can mention not only formally recognized. Perhaps, you have some kind of personal victories that are achievements in the context of your life. 
    Do you have any characteristics, qualities, skills that can distinguish you from other candidates? How did you develop them?
    What is your main character trait? Do you have strong beliefs or adherence to certain principles? 
    Are there any films, books, works of art that have influenced your worldview or experience? Why do you like them?
    Is there a period in your life that was the most difficult for you and why? How have you overcome the obstacles? How has your worldview changed as a result of the difficulties you have experienced? 
    Have you ever had to fight passionately for something? If you got your own way as a result, how did you succeed? If you failed, what was your reaction to failure?
    What would you like to do now? Where would you like to be? 
    What is your dream? What will allow you to consider your life successful? How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?

    All these questions will help you articulate what you love. It is essential to know what you want and why you need it. Only then, the essay will become a reflection of thoughts, a window to your soul. That is why focus on this stage at least for one or two weeks.

How To Write A Captivating Scholarship Essay Introduction?

You need a strong opening sentence to connect with your audience. So write it in a way to catch the reader’s attention from the first lines. It should pull them into the story and encourage them to continue reading. 

How can you achieve such a result? First, do not summarize the main content in the beginning. Otherwise, your reader will no longer need to read the entire text. Also, you should not immediately reveal the theme in the first sentence. 

The cardinal rule is not to mention overused phrases. They have been used hundreds of times, so you will not surprise the committee. It is better to refer to an unusual insight you get as a result of a new experience. It not only gives the sense of who you are but also evokes emotions and intrigues the readers. They will be more likely to follow your thoughts. 

6 Tips For Writing A Catchy Body Paragraph

  • Be specific and concise

Do you remember how long a scholarship essay should be? It is obvious that when there is a 500-word limit, it is impossible to tell about all your life. So if you decide to talk about doing any activity, reveal only the most inspiring aspect of it. For example, describe an event that you took part in and what impact it had. Also, avoid common phrases and clichés such as “Education is the key to success”. Real examples make the letter memorable, as each person has a unique life experience.

  • Show more enthusiasm

If you write about an area of interest that you are passionate about, it will be easier to create a gripping text. Your essay will not go unnoticed if your love for what you do shines through in your writing.

Do not try to cry poor mouth. When students think they deserve to receive a scholarship because of the difficulties they had to go through, they are unlikely to win. Lots of candidates have also faced challenges. However, it is not the problems that make us unique, but how we deal with them. 

  • Present your achievements

You should provide a more individual and unique impression on the members of the committee to win. So the description of your awards and talents may highlight your strengths. However, do not list everything as for this purpose you have an application form. Mention 1-2 of the most remarkable achievements and explain their significance.

There is another great chance to get some extra points. Do not forget to describe useful skills even if they are not directly related to the chosen program. Tell them how you can integrate your skills into the learning process and why it will benefit the university. Yet, too much detail can prevent readers from digesting the content.

  • Use logical transitions between your ideas

All paragraphs of the main content should correspond to the introduction. Use transitional phrases within and between paragraphs to connect the entire text. Do not limit yourself to the phrases “as a result” or “since”. Semantic transitions imply the repetition of keywords and the logical development of thought.

  • Proofread the text

Set aside the first draft for a few days. Take this time to reflect on the chosen topic. Then read the text again. Before submitting, contact professional editors so they check your text several times. They can get rid of meaningless sentences, factual errors, and language mistakes. 

  • Format your scholarship essay

It is crucial to format your paper as it makes the text easier to understand. So read the directions carefully. Usually, colleges ask to use a standard format as for other types of paper. The formatting requirements are the following: Times New Roman font, 12-point font size, double-spaced, and 1” margins.

Do You Need A Conclusion For Scholarship Essays Format?

The essay for scholarship is not much different from other types, although there are some peculiarities. Do not summarize the main content, there is no need to remind the reader of what they read three minutes ago. It is also better to avoid the hackneyed phrases “in conclusion” or “in general”. Establish a  link between the conclusion and the introduction by paraphrasing the sentences. Or end the text with a quote that is related to the content.

Bottom Line

If you feel you cannot handle the task, it is not a reason to give up. Write several drafts and reach out to professional writers as they can provide support both in word and deed. Get useful tips, ask for proofreading or work together on the text. Remember, you should not be perfect. Write the truth but put emphasis on your strengths. Your goal is to prove that financial support for your further education will benefit the community in the future. 

Mike Russel

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