Scholarship Tip: Efficient Scholarship Essays

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Writing for the Uninitiated

I have always been a proponent of students starting to prepare for college as early as possible, not only striving to excel scholastically, but also by learning all they can about completing scholarship applications and acquiring financial aid.  Unless you are independently wealthy, a crucial step in the process of getting into the school of your dreams is learning how to win free money.  Before you go out in search of loans, you need to realize there is free money out there, but a lot of people won’t put in the necessary amount of time and effort required to get it.  Creating a well-reasoned, informative and well-written scholarship essay is one of the things you can do to give you the edge you need.  The trick is to give your best effort, follow directions to the letter, and to be as efficient as possible.  Follow the steps below and your time spent completing scholarship applications may pay off!

The Multi-Use Scholarship Essay

Many scholarships, as you may already know, require an essay.  The majority of them will provide an essay subject or subjects and most will only allow a limited number of characters or words per entry.  Make a list of scholarship providers to whom you might safely be able to submit the same essay without hurting your chances of winning.  The great thing about scholarship essays is that there is so often overlays in the required subject matter that you can ‘recycle’ them.  If you can enter a single essay multiple times, you will cut the amount of time you need to spend applying to each considerably.

Follow the Rules

By no means am I suggesting you should try to find a way out of doing a good job – just that you do a good job as few times as is necessary so you can spend more time visiting colleges and doing the many other things you will need to do in your senior year.

If a scholarship provider feels you haven’t put forth the proper effort or have ignored the rules, you may not have a shot at winning the award…no matter how good your essay is.  Pick the scholarship opportunity with the strictess rules and begin with that one.  Next, add any criteria from the others to ensure you won’t be disqualified due to any procedural oversight.  Now all that’s left to do is write an essay that will satisfy the requirements of all of them while giving you the best chance to win.

How to Write Scholarship Essays

Writing scholarship essays that satisfy the requirements of a different scholarship to which you may be applying may not be as difficult as you think.  In fact, you should be able to write just one or two such essays that you can submit to several different scholarship providers.  Most of the scholarship providers have websites and many use them to post previous winning submissions.  Read these essays for inspiration.  Take a cue from their grammar, sentence structure, the way they addressed the subject, etc.  Get a feel for what scholarship providers generally seem to want in an essay and then give it to them.  If you have difficulty with spelling and grammar, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from teachers, parents or friends.  They might be able to provide you with valuable pointers.

Make an Impression with Good Presentation

Believe it or not, some scholarship providers actually specify the font type and size as part of their scholarship essay requirements.  If you have access to a computer and printer, take the time to prepare a type-written essay following any formatting requirements or guiidelines set forth by the scholarship provider.  If you have time and the know-how, create address labels for your scholarship envelope.  Every little detail towards a clean and professional presentation will make an impression on the person reading your essay.

Which Scholarships Take Priority?

The obvious answer is “whichever scholarship is worth the most money”, but only assuming you haven’t put things off for too long.  If it’s February of your senior year in high school, see which ones still have deadlines you can make; there should still be plenty!  It is imperative that you respect deadlines and get your scholarship applications and/or essays in on time.  Put those with the closest due date at the top of your list and don’t bother with one if you aren’t confident you truly qualify or don’t stand a good chance of winning.  Once you are finished with the ones that are ‘slam dunks’, you may still have time to go back and apply to the ones in the ‘maybe’ catagory.  If you start early enough (think October of your senior year), you will definately be giving yourself an advantage.  You might not be able to get an application for all of themyet, but the rules and requirements of some great scholarships may be available.  Start early and time won’t be an issue, you will be able to base priority strictly on the largest amount of money being offered and on confidence in your ability to win a scholarship.

Good Luck!!

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