How To Write a High Quality Scholarship Essay | Academics
Senior Vice President and Dean Jonathan Wickert said when he was a student he found it a bit intimidating to start writing scholarship essays because he didn’t know who the audience was.
But now, after writing his own scholarship essays and serving on scholarship selection committees, he has some tips for ISU students applying for scholarships.
First, students must be prepared to take the time to apply for scholarships. Wickert recommended that students not only apply for well-known scholarships, but also dig enough to find “hidden gems” that might not be so competitive.
“Don’t think you can’t win a scholarship,” Wickert said.
Raeann Ritland, a PhD candidate in rhetoric and professional communication and a consultant at the Writing and Media Center, said the most important thing students should keep in mind when writing a scholarship essay is to “pay attention to what the prompt is “.
Based on his experience on scholarship selection committees, Wickert said the biggest mistake he saw was that students had “a hotplate test” rather than a scholarship-specific test.
“I generally recommend that you don’t just list the things you’ve accomplished,” Ritland said, adding that the biggest mistakes she sees students make are when they try to fit everything into the essay.
Ritland recommends that students use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) to describe two or three ways in which they demonstrate what the scholarship committee is looking for. For example, instead of a student listing all the volunteer work they’ve done while writing a service essay, they can talk about two specific philanthropic events they’ve attended and quantify how that has benefited the community. community.
Wickert said it’s important for your personality to come forward and said the essay should discuss your background, goals, how this scholarship will help your life after graduation, what do you want to accomplish. “
“It’s meant to be something that looks like you, and it’s meant to be something that comes from the heart,” Wickert said.
Wickert recommended asking someone else to proofread the essay to give him feedback. Students can also take advantage of free 30-minute or 1-hour appointments at the Writing and media center to review their essays.
Students can search for scholarships through the Student Financial Aid Office, each individual college and private organizations.
Ultimately, scholarship selection committees invest in the students who they believe will have a high return on their investment.
“I would like to know that if I give someone a scholarship, that student will be able to pay it back in the future and be able to help other people,” Wickert said.
Wickert provided The Daily with the following steps when writing your scholarship essays:
First of all, do your homework
Preparing for scholarship essays can be time consuming, so make sure and apply for the scholarships that are most appropriate for your discipline or situation. Better to spend more time on 10 essays that are right for you than rushing through 50 essays for scholarships you might not qualify for.
Read the essay requirements carefully
It’s no different than taking a test and reading the question carefully before you start answering it. You can write a great essay, but make sure you cover the right topic; otherwise, it may turn out to be a misuse of your time.
Evaluators want to know more about you, your experiences, and why you would be a suitable recipient of their scholarship. The essay should be professionally written, but at the same time not so formal that the “real you” does not shine through to the reader.
It can be hard to resist temptation, but don’t overstate your accomplishments and never lie. It will always catch up with you.
Also focus on the present and the future
Evaluators want to know what you are doing now, especially what you are learning and how you are involved in extracurricular activities. But they also want to know how you plan to use your Iowa state education. What are your dreams? Where do you want to go? How do you want to make your mark on the world?
Number of spelling and grammar
Scholarships are generally very competitive, especially for larger scholarships that might attract 100 applicants who are just as deserving as you are, so don’t waste your chances by misspelling words or making your essay hard to read.
Most essays have a maximum number of words, but that doesn’t mean you have to use every word. If you’ve broached the subject or answered the question completely, it’s perfectly okay to stop before the maximum. Your essay can’t be too short of course, but try to make it as easy on the reviewer as you can!