Last Updated: August 28, 2015
by Cari Bennette
With tuition prices at an all-time high and the economy still looking sluggish, a lot of students are in need of some kind of financial support during college. Thankfully, there are literally hundreds of thousands of scholarships out there for every type of student.
If you’ve spent some time doing research to find out which scholarships you could qualify for, you’ve probably noticed the application requirements often include an essay.
Below are some of the most common mistakes most students make when writing scholarship essays and how to avoid them:
Don’t Let Grammar Mistakes Slip Through
Making sure that your grammar is correct shows the reader that you care. This is a general rule, whether it’s a term paper, a thank-you note, a resume, or a personal statement for college applications. In the case of scholarship essays, you’re asking someone to consider giving you money, so you want to make the best impression possible. Put your essay through a spellcheck. Ask a friend to read it and correct it. Print it out and read it out loud. Make absolutely sure there are no errors when you send it off.
Don’t Trail Off Topic
A lot of students do this and it’s one of the worst essay mistakes ever. If you’re supposed to be writing about how you overcame a challenge, don’t write about how you enjoyed visiting Paris last summer. It’s amazing how many students start out strong and then start meandering into other subjects. Rambling makes for a weak essay and doesn’t give the reader any idea of your potential. To avoid straying, make an outline of your major points before starting and stick to it as you write.
Don’t Ignore Word Count Limits
If the scholarship providers ask you to write a 350-500 word essay, don’t stray outside of this range. Falling short of the minimum 350 words leaves the impression that you didn’t try hard enough. Exceeding the 500 word limit could get you eliminated for being unable to follow directions or express yourself succinctly.
While you want to highlight your strengths and qualities, a dose of humility is always a good idea. You don’t want to be so humble as to leave out the great things about you, but you do want to strike a balance between listing your qualities and showing off. Don’t say, for example, “I’m the greatest basketball player of all time in my high school. Nobody can beat my record. I’m a living legend.” Instead say, “I’m proud of the fact that my long hours of training and my passion for the game have led me to be the top-scoring basketball player in my high school’s history.” Nobody likes to hear someone’s brag. But people do love to hear someone’s success story.
There are a lot of scholarships available to students who have experienced hardship. If you’ve been through a difficult experience as an immigrant seeking asylum or if you have a disability or your family has an extremely challenging financial situation, then it’s important for you to tell your story. If you’re writing an essay in this category, please consider what the scholarship donors are looking for: someone who is bright and positive who has earned an opportunity to improve his or her life. That means you’ll want to steer clear of whining or complaining. Tell your story in an objective way.
Cari Bennette is a passionate blogger, aspiring writer, and avid reader. She works at custom writing service Jet Writers, and contributes to different blogs related to e-learning, college study, education, and other topics in her articles. Cari also helps students who seek writing advice.
image credit: nau.edu
Original Post Date: August 27th, 2015