You’re getting ready to write your scholarship essay, and realize the instructions are missing one part the other essays had — a prompt. This might leave you worried, wondering what to write about. Instead of stressing out, let’s look at the advantages and strategies of writing an essay without a prompt.
International Student shares a valid point in their article, Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay. While writing a scholarship essay without a prompt can be harder, it gives you a chance to show your creativity. It reminds you to share your interests, background, and particularly, any experiences that fit the goals and mission of the organization that is awarding the scholarship. Creating your own prompt allows you to do this more freely, and add a more personal aspect to your response.
1. Reuse your other essays, within reason.
University Language Services says that many scholarship topics overlap, and recommends tweaking other essays to reuse them. By adjusting one scholarship essay, you can tailor it to fit the needs of another.
This is where writing a scholarship essay without a prompt can be used to your advantage. If you wrote a winning essay for one organization, this gives you the chance to use your efforts again and replicate your success.
However, some sources discourage re-using essays. If you re-use an essay, be sure to fine tune your revision so it’s directly applicable to the scholarship.
2. Clichés can be a good thing.
CollegeVine’s article “What If I Don’t Have Anything Interesting To Write About In My College Essay?” offers some great tips on selecting a topic when writing an essay for your college application. However, these suggestions can also be valuable for writing scholarship essays without a prompt.
They address the thought that people think they have to share an unusual topic to stand out above the other applicants. However, not everyone has an outlandish experience or topic to share. So, it’s okay to use cliché topics such as: why you deserve the scholarship, the best book you read, favorite memory with your family, your greatest achievement, or an influential person in your life.
For example, they share that cliché topics can actually set you apart from other applicants if you use the story to thoughtfully share your communication skills and personal qualities. The same goes for a scholarship essay. If you can share one of these stories and demonstrate that your experience is relevant to the award, your essay can stand out above the rest. If your experience is well-written and thoughtfully shared, it doesn’t have to be unusual.
3. Research common scholarship essay questions.
This can benefit you whether you are writing a scholarship essay without a prompt or not. Education Quest recommends creating a template for each common prompt. Then, when you are faced with that prompt, you can fine-tune your response for that particular application.
This strategy is especially valuable if there’s no prompt. Having a prepared essay template gives you a head start on creating a thoughtful essay.
If you need additional help, check out our list of common scholarship essay questions.
4. Find out what the judges want to read.
Amy Weinstein is the director of the National Scholarship Providers Association. In her money blog in Time magazine, she revealed 3 favorite topics that scholarship judges love to read about. Weinstein says judges want to know that a winner will be a good investment of their scholarship money.
Here are some topics you can try. They allow you to dig deeper and show judges that their scholarship is well invested if they choose you.
- What you love and why.
- How you recovered from a mistake or disappointment.
- Your family history.
Don’t stress out over writing an essay without a prompt. Scholarship judges read several applications and essays. By writing about something you’re passionate about, you give readers a deeper understanding of who you are. That may be the very thing that sets you apart from the other candidates. So, use this as an opportunity to choose that passion and let yourself shine!