Like the application itself, neatness is crucial when it comes to the essay. Type the essay on a separate sheet before committing it to the application itself. When you do type the final version, remember to double space. No point in further taxing the eyes of the screeners.
Good grammar is also crucial. Spell and grammar check relentlessly. Have friends, teachers, parents or anyone else with a knack for sentences go over the essay with you to uncover any structural, grammatical or logical problems. Needless mistakes will make the application look thrown together. If you’re going to put a lot of effort into the essay, you’ll want that effort to shine through to all who lay eyes on it.
One fine idea is to re-purpose essays that you have already written for class or other applications. If you’re applying for several scholarships, you’ll obviously want to avoid having to write separate essays for each. Be resourceful. Furthermore, because most essay questions are generic, it is possible to write two or three all-purpose pieces, and tweak them appropriately to fit each individual application. This too will save a lot of work.
As for the essay itself, the key is to write something that will stand out in the mind of the reader. This is done in several ways:
Pick a theme and make an outline
- Introduction — state the theme and the three main ideas supporting it.
- Three paragraphs — your three ideas, one in each paragraph. The support of your theme and the statement of your point.
- Closing — your conclusion, and chance to drive the theme home. Avoid re-stating points already made, fuse them together instead.
The structure and organization will keep you from rambling or veering off course. It will also provide needed focus to the writing process. Everything in the essay should serve the theme.
If it is a personal essay you’re writing, it should be a living document of your life at this point. Not only should it list your hopes, heroes, accomplishments et cetera, it should give a solid plan for the future, and clear examples and lessons from the past.
If it is a topical essay, be sure to use concrete examples, making them relevant to yourself, the essay and the scholarship foundation.
Again, check for grammar and spelling. Have others take a look at it. After spending so much time writing one thing, it’s quite difficult to remain objective. Others may find what you’ve missed as well as provide some ideas to shore up the essay.
With the essay out of the way, all forms correctly filled out and all secondary materials included, it’s now time to send the sucker off. Hit the post office, come home, sit back and take a deep breath. The only thing left to do is hope and wait.