It is clear what recruitment committees and college boards are looking for when they read a scholarship essay: they seek students who can express themselves eloquently, effectively, and correctly.
A scholarship essay must impress examiners with its topic choice, eloquence, relevance, correct references, signs of high intelligence, and superb mastery of writing and reasoning skills. Also, examiners are looking for students that are engaged in their community and have intriguing personalities—not just students that do nothing but study.
Steps for Writing a Scholarship Essay
- When the topic or question is decided upon, you must carefully create the main plan. It is key to decide upon the length, number of sources and citations, and the amount of time to be spent on research, drafting, and editing.
- The language to use in the planning stage must be flawless and unequivocal. The terminology and vocabulary must be derived from research—that is, the sources and other material gathered for the essay.
- List a number of points to help you decide which facts to use in support of your argument—which data can be considered relevant and how to analyze it.
- Decide on the citation style. Never deviate or confuse styles.
- Do not forget to write down the goals or aims of the essay. This is a competitive task. You are aiming to write a better essay than anyone else applying to your chosen institution in order to catch the attention of examiners.
- Research the topic you want to present in your essay.
- Write a first draft, second draft, then a final draft.
- Edit your essay at least three times with the help of a tutor or respected colleague.
Key Points to Consider
- When students decide they want to receive a scholarship at a college or university, they have to know that they are entering a competitive field. There are only a few scholarships given out and there are thousands of applicants.
- A solid and relevant topic must be found. It must be a little different from all other topics and must point to a number of easily-accessible references. A scholarship essay without exceptional references that are up-to-date, appropriate, and significant cannot hope to impress a board of selective examiners.
- When a topic is found, materials in the form of books, magazines, journals, and other forms of information, such as audio or video files, must be assembled in an organized and logical fashion. It is much better to have too much material to refer to than too little.
- More than in any other scholarly work, a scholarship essay is an instrument of exposure and demonstration. One must expose one’s knowledge, and demonstrate evidence of covered ground, and material being understood and interpreted correctly.
- A large amount of notes must be taken during the reading process. The notes must be in clear language, must make sense, and must be organized properly.
- All text must be supported by properly formatted citations and referencing, using APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian styles.
- A proven notetaking system is best, because with it, a student can keep all observations and rationale in sequential order. Strict organization is essential, and time management must be adhered to if the scholarship essay is to be successful.
- The key points of the research based on the topic must be sought, planned, and reported. Each paragraph of the report must deal with one of these points, and elaborate on what can be found in the reference sources.
- Deciding on a writing style is the easiest part: all the writing must be academic in style, and accurate. It is a mistake to use conversational language.
Do and Don’t
An ambitious student who wants to garner a scholarship must be twice as careful as regular students, and work twice as hard. It is useful to put a checklist of this nature in a prominent place to avoid submitting a scholarship essay that will not defeat the competition.
- Make sure your topic is relevant, up-to-date, interesting, and engaging.
- The language needs to match the argumentation style of your selection. Use a philosophical stance for humanities subjects, and an objective observational style for science subjects, for example. Never fall into colloquialisms or slang in an effort to be more persuasive.
- An engaging scholarship essay necessarily appeals to the examiners’ emotions, intellect, and memory. It must also present a new way of reasoning or findings.
- It is a mistake to make points that are mere opinions. All statements must be factual and supported by citations.
- Do not omit direct quotes from relevant texts, as well as suitable paraphrasing. Ensure that all your references are current and suitable for the subject and theme.
- Avoid driving a point home too emphatically. It is enough to support your claims with evidence without repetition, exaggeration, or hyperbole.
- Too many negative sentences can turn a successful essay into a destructive argument. A scholarship essay is constructive: analysis, interpretation, and questioning need not be critical of a person, piece of work, or philosophy.
- Avoid presenting facts and data while also omitting a clear and well-thought out thesis argument. Make a logical outline or plan, and adhere to its principles.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic scholarship essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our scholarship essay samples to link theory with practice.
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Samples for Writing a Scholarship Essay
Applying for the Educator’s Professional Master’s Program Scholarship
Applying for the WMU Lawrence, Clara & Evelyn E. Burke Scholarship
APA style was created by the American Psychological Association in order to standardize the formatting of papers written on social and behavioral sciences. Its manual has rules defining all the aspects of writing, thus making it easier for the authors to both format their own papers and work with the works written by other people.
There are several widely accepted formatting styles, every one dealing with a particular set of sciences, and the APA style is one of them. So, if you plan to write something dealing with psychology or sociology, you should learn some things about it:
- The APA format paper should be typed with double spaces on the paper of standard size (8.5”x11”). Margins: 1” on each side. Font: 10-12 pt. Times New Roman.
- There should be a page header at every page.
- Quotations that are less than 40 words should be left in the body of text and placed into double quotation marks. Mention the author’s surname, year of publication and the number of page in the brackets.
- If quotation is more than 40 words, you should use a block quotation starting with a new line, indented five spaces and without quotation marks.
- If you use Internet sources, provide the author’s name, the year of publication and the number of page (if it is PDF), the number of paragraph and a heading.
- If you retell someone else’s text in your own words, mention the author’s surname and the publication year (in brackets). If you use the same source in the same paragraph, don’t refer to the year again.
- If there are two authors, mention their surnames and publication year.
- If there are three to five authors, mention their surnames and publication year for the first time, then you may stick to the surname of the first of them plus “et al.”
These are the most general guidelines for the APA style; here we have mentioned mostly the citation rules, but keep in mind that it has instructions for various other aspects of writing, so don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the Manual before you start writing.
It is very important to learn all the tricky moments before you start working, for if you put it off until the last day, you may suddenly face the perspective of remaking the whole of your paper. Don’t let this happen and use correct formatting from the stage of writing drafts. It is also recommended to write down all the information considering sources you take as a basis at the stage of literature research so as not to forget some important details.
In order to see an essay with properly formatted references and bibliography, view the corresponding sample.