Scholarship Application Tips:
Some scholarship funds receive many more applications than they can possibly fully consider. Therefore, you need to have a great application to get past the “first round." The judges' first evaluation of your application is a quick one, usually only 15-30 seconds. This strategy reduces the application volume to a more manageable size.
Scholarship Essay Writing Tips:
- Is your application neat? An application with coffee stains or messy handwriting won’t make the cut.
- Are all of the required documents included? Be sure you are not leaving out references, transcripts, photographs or anything else the application requires.
- Do you qualify? Do you meet the minimum requirements? Many scholarships require a minimum grade point average. It is important to have a competitive GPA.
- Watch deadline dates. Send in applications as early as possible. Late applications are not usually considered for a scholarship.
- Tailor your application to your sponsor’s goal. Pay attention to detail. Read all of the information provided carefully and follow the instructions. If you need to send in 6 images of your artwork, do not send in 10, thinking that more is better. Scholarship committees are looking to see if you can follow directions. You may be eliminated by sending in more than the requirements specified.
- Participate in extracurricular activities. Are you involved in your community? Do you have a part time job? Do you volunteer for events such as ArtPrize? Do you give blood? Are you a member of one of the Kendall Student Organizations? Were you on a sports team in high school? If you have limited extracurricular involvement, show how you may be particularly involved with your family or within classes you have taken, such as being a leader in a group assignment.
- Write a great essay, if required. Proofread, proofread, and proofread one more time. Most scholarship committees will not even consider a scholarship application with major blunders. Are there major spelling errors? Are there major grammatical errors?
- Special circumstances. If you have overcome any obstacles, let the judges know without being too overdramatic. Do not beg for money. Be positive and tell the judges what you have accomplished.
- Demonstrate that you are a unique person. The judges like to feel that they can relate to you and feel confident that you will be worthy of their award. This will give you the edge in applying for outside private scholarships.
Treat scholarship essays as an opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you deserve a scholarship, rather than as if writing an essay is a chore. Remember that most scholarships are extremely competitive – you will not get a second chance to elaborate about your accomplishments or to provide further explanation about your motivation. The essay is your one chance to sell yourself. The following tips are designed to help you make the most of writing essays:
Directly answer the question. If you are asked to write about a specific subject or answer a question, stick to it. Do not go off on too many tangents or lose focus of the question you are answering.
Be original. Boring essay topics can sound interesting if creatively approached. Elaborate by way of examples whenever possible, especially specific personal examples. Instead of saying “I am a caring person”, write something like “I visit my great-grandmother at the Shady Acres Rest Home every Sunday. I love playing cards with Grandma Mary’s friends, especially when they share stories about their youth and the changes they have witnessed over the years.”
Be yourself. The committee wants to learn about you. Write about something meaningful and describe your feelings. Adding a bit of humor or sharing an interesting but relevant experience can make a big difference.
Don’t “Thesaurize” your essay. Students think big words make good essays. Big words are fine, but use sparingly. An essay should sound like you are talking to the person face to face.
Start with your introduction. Use your opening statements to grab the interest of the reader from the beginning. Create mystery or intrigue in your introduction. It is not recommended that your first sentence give away the subject matter. Raise questions in the minds of the readers to force them to read on. Appeal to their emotions to make them relate to your subject matter. Your introduction can be original, but not silly.
Body paragraphs must relate to your introduction. Use logical order for your paragraphs. This is best accomplished by creating an outline to organize your thoughts. Do not jump from one idea to another without using transition words. These words or phrases join sentences and thoughts together in a coherent fashion. Examples are: consequently, therefore, as a result, furthermore, in addition to, etc. These phrases preserve the logical flow of your essay.
Conclusions are crucial. It is the end of the journey. It looks back on the points you have shown the reader, and reinforces, but does not necessarily repeat, the main idea. This is your last chance to persuade or impress upon your reader your qualifications.
Proofread your essay and then let someone else proofread it. Make sure your responses are complete and answer the question. It is crucial that your grammar and spelling are correct. Do not rely on the spelling correction software built into your computer’s word processing software, as this will miss “valid word” spelling errors. Print out your essay and proofread it in hardcopy format, as it is easier to catch these errors in print than on screen. Read your essay out loud. Do you have complete sentences? Ask one of your instructors to proofread it for you.
Take your essay to the ARC and use the Writing Center student consultants. They can help you brainstorm ideas, organize your ideas, or edit and polish your draft.
Kendall Writing Center
Sources: Scholarships.com, internationalstudent.com, and finaid.org.
If you have questions, call our Financial Aid office at 616.451.2787 or 800.676.2787 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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