If we’re honest, most of us don’t like writing essays. The thought of writing one essay is tough enough — talk less, several. But when it comes to scholarships, what’s the process?
Should you write a brand-new essay for each scholarship or rinse and repeat?
Well, it depends.
In some cases, you can re-use your essay — or at least parts of it — for your application. Some prompts are similar to others you’ve submitted for another scholarship. Others may relate to a topic you’ve tackled for a college or high school essay, report or research paper.
There are no rules against re-using your essay for another purpose, unless you originally created it for an employer or organization and signed away your rights of ownership. I’m no lawyer, so you’ll have to look into the legality in such circumstances. However, the idea is yours, so you may be able to re-write the essay from a different angle.
If you’re submitting an essay you’ve used in the past, remove any specifics that touch on the provider’s name or college and anything that indicates you’re re-using the essay. It’s like sending a cover letter for employment, but forgetting to change the company’s name to the correct name in your application. Using the wrong name is a sure fire way to miss out on a scholarship.
To re-use an existing essay, remove sections that don’t relate to the topic and add related sections to it. You can even pull information from multiple essays if it makes sense and rebuild your essays like a jigsaw puzzle. In some cases, you can use an existing essay in its entirety, but just tweak the introduction or conclusion, so it works for your particular case.
If you’re re-using an essay you’ve submitted for another scholarship, stay true to your background and goals. Don’t switch from major to major or from goal to goal. You never know who’s on the scholarship board and if one of the members has read your essay before. Switching your major in each essay can make you appear indecisive — or worse — untruthful.
On the other hand, if you don’t have an essay that’s suitable for your scholarship application, you may need to write a brand-new essay that works for the topic at hand. This is especially true for essays with a unique topic you need to write about, like:
- “If you were an ice-cream, which flavor would you be and why?”
- “Create two questions that drive you.”
- “You’ve just reached your one millionth hit on your YouTube video. What is the video about?”
With that said, all is not lost. You can still jumpstart your essay with an outline. An outline will speed up the process and keep you on track. Once your essay is complete, be sure to file it away, so you can re-use it or submit something similar if you encounter a similar topic in the future.
You never know when your past work will come in handy, which is why you should save everything that applies to your educational accomplishments.
- Hang on to any projects, research papers and essays you received a good grade on during high school or college. Even if you didn’t receive an excellent grade on the assignment, save it anyway. Save any notes or feedback you receive from the teacher on how to improve the essay, then incorporate these suggestions into your new essay when you re-write it.
- Keep outlines, applications and resumes handy, so you can quickly refer to them as you write your essay.
- Save articles, books and writings that inspire you when you read them. You never know if you’ll need to refer to them for inspiration.
Utilize these tips and you’re sure to save time on your next essay.