Oh no, you spelled that word wrong! It happens all the time but mistakes like these and others can cost you free money aka scholarships. You wouldn’t want to miss out on $2,500 because you typed an “L” instead of a “Z” right? Well here are some common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.
Fulfill the Criteria
Make sure you read the scholarship application description and follow the guidelines. If the scholarship asks you to write about a time where you overcame a struggle, don’t write about how your aunt’s cat is the most adorable cat. Be careful with copying and pasting other scholarship essays that you wrote - this could be a huge blunder if you replace it with the wrong topic. If the scholarship application says there is a maximum of 500 words, keep it to 500 words. Unfortunately, you won’t get any extra credit here for going over the word count.
We mentioned it briefly in the introduction but this is a very easy way to mess up your scholarship essay. One or multiple misspelled words show the scholarship reviewers that you didn’t take the time to proofread. If you’re competing against others for scholarship money, taking the time to proofread shows that you actually care about getting the scholarship. We suggest getting a second pair of eyes on your scholarship essays to check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, run-on sentences, and more.
Although scholarship essays ask you to talk about yourself, they are no place to brag and boast. In acknowledging your accomplishments you should always carry a strong sense of humility. Scholarship reviewers are here to help support you and it helps if you have stories that reflect on how others in your community have helped you to achieve your goals. We’re all in this together and it’s hard to want to stamp ‘won’ on essays where people think they’ve got it all figured out themselves.
If you’ve experienced hardship in your life and your scholarship essays ask you to write about that, make sure that you write in stride. Try to tell your story in a frame that doesn’t sound like you’re complaining about your situation. How people write about their experiences can be very telling about how they deal with those experiences and reviewers of scholarships want to ensure that the individuals they’re supporting will use their resources to continue growing to advance themselves out of their situation.
While researching scholarships and scholarship application tips, you may have come across the phrase “tailor your essays” or “personalize your application.” But what exactly does that mean, and how do you do it?
What are Tailored / Personalized Essays?
When something is “tailor-made” it means it was specially made for a specific person or reason. The same concept applies here. A tailor-made scholarship essay is one specifically designed to appeal to that scholarship’s sponsor.
Sometimes the phrase “personalized” is used instead, but it means the same thing. Your essay is personalized towards that specific sponsor. It’s not generic, it’s specialized.
Why You Should Tailor Your Essays
It sounds tedious to ensure that every application or essay you make fits each place you submit to. A one-size-fits all method sounds a lot easier, right? However the benefit of tailoring your essays are well worth the extra effort.
By personalizing your essays, you not only show the scholarship’s sponsor that you’re willing to go the extra mile, but that you’ve done your research and truly embody whatever they’re trying to promote.
How to Tailor Your Essays
If a local company sponsors a scholarship about community service, you’ll want your essay to reflect the importance of community service and teamwork. If you just copy + paste an essay about hard work, without tweaking it to make it specific to them, they’ll be able to tell. You may not lose points, per se, but you won’t gain extra ones.
Do your research into these sponsors. Visit their websites to see what values they emphasize. It might be right there in the name of the scholarship, or under their “mission statement.” Find an element that they value and make sure it appears in your essay.
Does That Mean I Have to Write a Brand New Essay for Every Single Scholarship?
No. If you already have an essay that fits a certain prompt, you can reuse it. You can tailor your pre-existing essays by adding a few new details, or rewriting a paragraph or two to fit the new sponsor’s goals. (Just make sure everything still flows well and that the essay fits their prompt).
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