Every year, we read thousands of applications. While we try to devote as much thought to each, it’s not always easy. Below is the advice we give to all scholarship applicants to leave a strong impression on the reader.
How to Write a Stellar Scholarship Essay
Make your essay a projection of yourself
When we read scholarship applications, we form a first impression of the applicant. We develop a sense of their personality, mannerisms, and beliefs. Judges are more likely to select an application from someone they feel close to. To form thoughtful, personal responses, try the Conversation Method:
Before writing anything down, imagine answering the prompt out loud. What is the most important information you want to impart? How do you tell your story? As you form your response, jot down phrases that feel right. Build your narrative like you would a conversation, moving to deeper topics as you explore the issue.
Hit every point
An applicant who weighs every question in the prompt demonstrates dedication and attention to detail. While outlining your essay, make sure to devote equal space to each portion of the prompt. Before editing, review the prompt again and make sure your essay amply addresses each point.
Organize in 3’s
Human reasoning can be divided into 3 categories: pathos, logos, and ethos, translated as emotion, logic, and ethics. In essay format, you may think of them as stories, facts, and personal beliefs.
In your writing, make liberal use of all three forms of reasoning. Whenever possible, explore each point using each of the three. Let the reader understand your logic, moral grounding, and emotions as you tell your story. Prove every statement using the three aspects of human reasoning.
Only use words you know
When composing an essay, it is tempting to grab a thesaurus and find the biggest words. However, the moment a word is misused, the judge catches on to exactly what you are doing. When examining the thesaurus, carefully look up how an unfamiliar word is used before dropping it in the essay.
Depending on the scholarship you’re applying for, it may be best to use simple language. Most scholarship judges are not looking for candidates with expert writing skills, just the ability to communicate ideas clearly.
Find someone you know who can provide an expert opinion on your application. This person may be a hiring manager, professional editor, or a trusted friend. You may ask multiple people to review your essay, but the feedback may become overwhelming.
Stay well ahead of the deadline
Procrastination is what happens when we don’t know what to do next. Remember to pace yourself and break the work into chunks so it doesn’t feel daunting. If deadlines make you anxious, consider this step-by-step plan:
- Read all of the instructions. Sleep on it.
- Use your favorite method to start getting something on paper. Write an outline or list, use the Conversation Method (see above), or start jotting things down through stream of consciousness.
- Turn what you have into a draft. When you feel lost or overwhelmed, take a break. Think about what you’d like to write while on the go, eating, and drifting off to sleep.
- Come back to your draft. Make the changes you’ve been thinking about. Read it through and mark things you’d like to change.
- Take your draft to a trusted friend who can provide insights and editing expertise.
- Make the changes you like to your draft.
- Before turning it in, read through the instructions again. Go over your application one last time. If you have time, sleep on it for one final night before sending it in.
The Trinity Education Foundation offers 3 scholarships. For our Trinity Scholars Program, we are not looking for someone who knows all the answers - we are seeking out anyone with two ears open, ready for divine guidance. Applicants must attend an accredited Christian University in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or Montana. Special consideration is provided for students with significant financial need. We are accepting applications through March 31st 2019. Finally, please give yourself plenty of time to form a spectacular essay.