There are many important pieces of your scholarship application, but the essay is your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants. Although your test scores, GPA, and extracurricular activities provide a picture of the kind of student you are, your essay provides insight into who you are as a person. This makes keeping your essay interesting especially crucial—your goal is to make scholarship committees want to keep reading!
The first, and often most difficult, step in writing an interesting scholarship essay is choosing your topic. Many scholarship essay prompts are relatively broad and leave the writer plenty of room for creativity. A major key to this step of the process is choosing a topic that you truly care about. If you don’t find the topic interesting and meaningful, chances are, neither will the judges.
Though many scholarship essays allow students freedom in terms of what they write about, it’s still extremely important to make sure you address all parts of the prompt appropriately. It’s also helpful to consider your audience. You should treat your scholarship essay as a piece of persuasive writing, and what kind of scholarship you are applying for makes a difference. Don’t take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when writing essays for different scholarships, and try to consider what you personally find interesting about each individual organization.
As you begin crafting your essay, be sure to devote plenty of time to the brainstorming phase. Though on the surface, essays can be about various topics and issues, at the core they are really about you. Keep yourself, your values and your interests at the center of your essay, and don’t rule out any idea right away. By giving yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas, you might surprise yourself with what you’re able to come up with.
Once you’ve picked your topic, it’s time to write about it in a format that will set your essay apart. Choosing the right angle is an important aspect to consider, and it’s helpful to think about how you could approach your topic in many different ways. For example, if you’re writing about your love of sports and your instinct is to write about a time your team won, consider instead discussing a time your team lost.
Though essay prompts are often relatively vague, it’s necessary to make your essay specific and detail oriented. Since most essays aren’t long enough to cover extremely broad topics, it’s easier to write interesting content that focuses on details. Every word counts, so making broad or general statements means wasting your opportunity to write about details that matter. Scholarship committees read essay after essay after essay—don’t sacrifice any of the minutes they spend reading yours on generalizations. Anyone can make grand, sweeping statements about a topic, but only you can provide the personal details that make the essay relevant in showcasing who you are and what matters to you.
Another way to avoid wasting words that could be used to make your essay more interesting is to avoid using fillers and placeholders in your writing. Dictionary definitions are a great example of what you shouldn’t include in your essay. Not only do they take up valuable space, but in most cases if a scholarship judge wouldn’t know the meaning of a word, you probably shouldn’t be using it in your essay. Using quotes from other writers is also something to avoid — this is about you!
No matter what topic you choose to write about, your style and tone are incredibly important. Unlike a purely academic essay, this is an opportunity to let your reader hear your voice. Your reader wants to get an idea of the person writing the essay, so be true to yourself and your style. Scholarship committees aren’t going to be impressed by the writer that uses the most extensive vocabulary. What they will be impressed by is the writer who uses a clear and engaging voice that is honest and genuine.
Once you’ve finished your essay, don’t forget to edit. No matter how interesting, unique, and captivating your essay might be, your reader will notice if you haven’t thoroughly checked your work for errors. The essay is a tool to showcase your writing ability and your attention to detail, making editing a key factor in writing a successful essay.
Keeping your scholarship essay interesting is a challenge, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to showcase your skills and talents.