High school is almost coming to an end and you cannot wait to begin college. While a new chapter awaits you on the other side, you must brace yourself for all the planning that comes with it too. The most crucial one being planning finances.
It is a well-known fact that college tuition is increasing at a rapid rate. The only way to study in a college of your choice without burning a hole in your family’s pocket is by finding suitable scholarships that can take you one step closer to your dream college.
Most scholarship applications require you submit an essay that helps the committee understand more about you and assess whether you are deserving a candidate.
Want to know how to draft an impressive scholarship essay? Start with not making these 7 common mistakes –
1). Sending Old Essays
You plan to apply to multiple scholarships at once and there is nothing wrong with that. However, in such a scenario, a common mistake students make is sending the same essay for all applications without thinking twice.
It’s important to look at every scholarship differently and personalize your application to suit each of their requirements and goals. Do your research on the college and scholarship sponsor and see how you can connect your experiences to their values.
The scholarship committee comes across multiple essays in a day and they can very well make out a personalized essay from a rehashed one. So, go the extra mile and ensure you submit a tailor-made essay.
2). Choosing a Generic Topic
If the application asks you to choose a topic of your own, make sure you give it some thought and don’t jump to choose a generic, run-of-the-mill topic that has been written about several times. The last thing you want is for your topic to induce yawns.
You need to choose a topic that interests you and drives you to churn out an engaging piece. There is no way you can convince the reader if you aren’t convinced about the topic yourself.
The idea is to choose a topic wherein you can highlight your experiences and strengths. So, make a list of topics that you are passionate about and on which you have interesting material to write about.
3). Not Selling Yourself
Look at scholarship essays as a way to sell yourself. You need to use this space to talk about relevant experiences that shaped you and mention what you think are your highest selling points such that it convinces the reader that you are eligible for the scholarship. Forget about being modest because here’s your chance to shine and show them why you are capable so use it well.
However, this does not mean that you go on to write your life history and bore the reader. You need to be able to pick out key experiences and learnings that can make you stand out. It can be about an influential person, a life-changing event that altered your perspective or anything else that lets them get to know you better.
4). Losing Focus
With all the distractions around you, it’s easy to lose focus while writing and derail from the topic, especially while writing long essays.
The best way to tackle this and remain motivated to finish your essay is to plan the essay structure before you begin writing. This involves making a rough outline of the essay and enlisting key points you plan on covering in each paragraph.
Next, break down your writing process. Instead of forcing yourself to finish the essay in one go, take it one paragraph at a time. This gives you breathing space in between paragraphs and helps you get back to it with a fresh mind.
5). Ranting About a Crisis
The tone you take in your essay matters a great deal. While you may be tempted to rant about your issues or past experiences, that is no way to highlight your strengths and capabilities. So, stay away from sob stories and always find a way to give negative experiences a positive spin.
Instead of projecting yourself as the victim, you need to focus on illustrating how you overcame a challenge and how it made you stronger and more resilient. The scholarship committee wants to see more of what you did about the challenges you faced rather than what you faced.
6). Exceeding the Word Limit
You might think those extra 100 or 200 words are harmless but failing to adhere to the word count does not speak very highly of you. It shows that you don’t take instructions seriously and are unable to present your thoughts in the given word limit.
If you find yourself exceeding the word limit, go over your essay and get rid of repetition and unnecessary statements that are not serving any purpose.
7). Not Getting a Second Opinion
Sometimes we get so engrossed in writing the essay that we tend to get too attached to it and miss out on glaring loopholes.
Hence, before submitting the scholarship essay, it is a good idea to ask for a second opinion and get a fresh set of eyes on it. From identifying grammatical errors to offering a fresh new perspective, it helps to get someone else to give their objective views on your essay. This gives you time to look at it from their perspective and decide whether you need to make amends.