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What Are the Best Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay?

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  • Written By: Maggie Worth
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Those applying for scholarships for college are often required to write scholarship essays to accompany their applications. These essays can often play an important role in determining which applicant is awarded the scholarship. Those writing such essays should make sure that they fully understand and address the essay topic, be honest and open, and write their essays in an engaging voice that gives the reader an idea of the writer's personality.

In many cases, a scholarship essay is written to address a specific topic, and that topic may have more than one facet. For example, a community service scholarship might require the applicant to write an essay detailing her past community service, what degree she intends to pursue, and how that degree will enable her to give back to her community after college. An essay that only explains past community service does not answer all parts of the topic question and may be disqualified from consideration as a result. The best essay will be one that addresses all parts of the stated topic.

Essay writers should also take care to read and understand the specific stylistic requirements for the scholarship essay they are writing. Some scholarships specify a maximum length, either in number of words or number of pages. Others require that submissions be typed or computer-generated. Nearly all have firm deadlines by which all submissions must be mailed. Failing to follow any of these guidelines may result in the writer's disqualification.

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Honesty is extremely important when writing a scholarship essay. Writers should not claim achievements or motivations that they do not have or make promises they do not intend to keep. In some situations, falsely claiming an award, test score, or achievement, or lying on a scholarship application or in an essay, can be grounds for disqualification. Some scholarships even reserve the right to strip a recipient of an awarded scholarship if dishonesty in the application process comes to light later.

Applicants should remember that a scholarship essay is intended to do more than transmit information to the reader; it is intended to give the reader an idea of who the applicant is, what her personality is like, and what makes her special. While the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be observed, it is also important for the applicant to write in a style that reflects the way she speaks and presents herself. An essay with personality is more likely to attract the interest of the scholarship committee than one that simply states facts.

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