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Get Inspired to Write that Scholarship Essay

Here are five tips to help you successfully get your ideas across in an essay.

Blank pages are intimidating. Rejection is a bummer. Standing out is harder than it looks.

These are examples of typical concerns that prevent students from writing scholarship essays. Sound familiar? Has the fear of essay writing caused you to ditch the idea of applying for certain scholarships?

Don’t ditch ’em. Just write them. It’s in your best interest to do so, and you have nothing to lose by tossing your hat into the ring. (Who doesn't want to try to get extra money for college?) Plus, the writing process may turn out to be easier than you expect! Here are some tips and words of wisdom to help you get started.

Embrace the rough draft.

Blurt out some words. Arrange them into sentences until they form something resembling an essay. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it’s called a rough draft for a reason. The sooner you can get your thoughts down on paper (or onto a screen), the sooner that looming blank page will be gone — and the sooner you can work on turning your draft into a winning piece.

Hone your message.

Now that you have a good idea of what point you’re trying to get across, or what kind of story you’re telling, it's time to tidy up your message. Add emphasis or clarifying details where necessary. Rearrange sections if the order feels confusing. Remove anything that sounds unnecessary or repetitive.

Speak from the heart.

“Your essay needs to reflect you and your goals,” writes Arthur Murray in an article for U.S. News & World Report. “It also provides perhaps your best opportunity to make the case that you’re a winner in general and should be the scholarship winner.”

Yes, trying to stand out sounds difficult, but remember that you have something no one else can offer: your unique perspective and experiences. Portray yourself as a winner by speaking personally, honestly, and from the heart.

Find a proofreader.

Having a second set of eyes helps not only to catch simple grammar and spelling mistakes, but also to make sure your submission reads smoothly and makes sense overall. Ask a friend to read through your essay, and invite them to make suggestions or ask questions if anything seems unclear.

Stay within the essay guidelines.

Before you submit, check the scholarship essay guidelines one last time. Make sure you've stayed within the suggested word count and that you've covered each question and/or talking point. Have you met all the requirements? Does it sound like it came from you?

Perfect! Toss it into the ring.

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